Learn from the Supply Chain Masters – Q&A with Bill Riordan

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The next victim err… I mean willing participant in our ‘Learn from the Masters’ series, which features answers to your burning supply chain-related questions from our talented business consultants, is Bill Riordan. Bill has been with Kinaxis just over a year. How did you come to find yourself in a supply chain software business consultant role – what was your path to here? Probably like most of us in the BC role, we didn’t start out looking to become supply chain BCs. In fact, for many of us who’ve been around a while, the term supply chain hadn’t even been coined yet. I started out working with and developing plant floor manufacturing and controls systems, so that was my introduction to a part of the “supply chain”. I really enjoyed both the challenge of understanding and managing the dynamics of a supply chain, as well as the software technologies of the solutions that were being developed to address the challenges of the supply chain. Fast forward through a handful of really interesting technology companies which addressed different parts of the supply chain problem, and here I am. What’s the biggest lesson about supply chain management you’ve learned? You’ll never develop the perfect plan. Or, if you do, it’s good for about a second. The best supply chains are those that do a good job of anticipating what’s going to happen while at the same time having the ability to adjust when things (inevitably) change. What advice would you give to anyone considering a career in supply chain? Like any career, make sure you like what you do first and foremost. Supply chain isn’t sexy, but it matters and it makes a difference to a company’s performance. And, it offers an array of challenges from technology to organization to pure creative problem solving. If you had to name three priorities for a company looking to evolve their supply chain processes, what would they be?

  1. Make the ‘project’ a priority and give it the attention it needs.
  2. Put your best people on it. I’ve seen many failed projects because they we’re staffed with ‘available’ resources. Never works.
  3. Tie the success of the project to realistic, measurable business goals (revenue, margin, service level, share, etc.).
If you could change your job title to a comic or superhero name that would aptly describe what you do, what name would you give yourself?

Pixelator – because I use screen projections of PowerPoint and demos to show how wonderful our prospect’s futures will look with RapidReponse. What’s the one app on your phone that you can’t live without? RiffMaster Pro. I’m trying to learn to play the guitar like Bill Dubois (which is forever unlikely). But this app allows me to slow down music to 1/8 of the regular speed so at least I can get through a song. Tough to dance to, which is why you won’t see me playing the clubs anytime soon.  

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