I read my colleague, Jonathan’s, post on Monday about the supply chain lessons that can be learned by playing Angry Birds. I loved the analogy and have another game to add to the list. Hay Day. This is truly a supply chain game. My 10-year old son is an avid player and, without knowing it, has become a supply chain expert. In fact, perhaps this is where our future supply chain leaders are starting out!? For those of you who may not be familiar with the game, in Hay Day you run a farm. You grow produce and make other products, and then sell them through different channels – order deliveries, customers that come to the farm, boat orders, or at a roadside stand. The money you make allows you to purchase additional equipment and resources to grow your farm and offer new products. All the basic tenets of supply chain are present in full force...
- There are multiple orders coming in from various channels and you have to figure out a way to deliver to the most customers to maximize your sales. And not all orders are created equal. Boat orders, for example, offer the most money, but involve a high-volume of long-lead time products that you have to deliver before a set deadline. And as in real life, you just never know what orders are coming.
- The bigger your farm, your product offering becomes more diverse and complex. You have to balance making products to sell, with making products that become a component of another product. For example, you can sell sugar directly, but you also need sugar for all your baked goods and jams. If you have an order for 10 cakes, you need to make sure you have all the butter and sugar on hand to make those cakes, and if you use the butter and sugar for that, you have to figure out what other orders you may not be able to fulfill as a result.
- Capacity is constrained. Equipment can only produce so much in a certain period of time, and the silo and barn can only hold a certain amount of inventory. You want to make sure your storage space is used for ingredients that are always needed so they don’t become your gating parts. Likewise, you need to fill certain machines (again, dairy and sugar machines as example) to full capacity before you leave the game (overnight), so the machines can work in your absence so you don’t have idle or underutilized workstations.
I could go on and on…the examples are endless. It’s been amazing to see my son build an understanding of pretty significant supply chain principles such as order management, customer segmentation, profit maximization, capacity constraint management, inventory planning etc.. This past week though, he took things to a whole new level. Previously, he was focused on his farm alone, but the sly little devil came to the realization that if he used the family iPad and his father’s iPhone, he could make their own Hay Day farms and use them as suppliers. He made these farms feed his farm with the products he needed to fulfill his own orders. Pretty cool. And then he realized, in addition to having the feeder farms work on products for his orders, he could also buy any product off these farms (at crazy low prices because he controlled them) and then turnaround and sell them at his own roadside stand at a huge markup. Ok, so maybe this last part is more about gaming the system and undertaking a total money-making scheme, but it’s still astute nonetheless, and it did have him double his farm in a matter of a day or two. Anyway, at one point, he was at the dining room table playing on all three devices simultaneously – now that’s what I call coordinating the extended supply chain! I know computer games can get a bad rap, but in this case, I’m viewing it as hands-on training for his future career as a supply chain manager. He did eventually turn off the devices to go play outside so he will be a well-rounded supply chain manager at any rate.