Three SCM table stake capabilities for the twenty-tens

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By the ‘twenty-tens’ I’m referring to the decade that has just begun and for which a colloquial name has not yet been coined. I feel that it’s going to be an interesting decade for enterprise software because we are going to witness the fallout from the failure of big ERP vendors to make software that addresses the modern-day challenges of this decade and beyond.

The last two decades are sunk. Now, it’s time to move forward. In my first post to this blog, I want to point out three table stake capabilities that ERP vendors have failed to provide. I’ve been with Kinaxis for four weeks and have been immersing myself in the world of supply chain and S&OP trying to figure out what really drives organizations to improve their supply chain.

In talking to my colleagues, which include some of the world’s most knowledgeable supply chain experts who work side by side with some of the world’s best run manufacturing companies, I’ve learned that customer service is at the top of the list. In these volatile, post-recessionary times, manufacturers need to know when a customer order is at risk, and then they need to figure out fast how to course correct.

Unfortunately the solutions in place – at one extreme, error prone manual spreadsheets, or at the other extreme, multi-million dollar ERP modules – can’t offer the following capabilities:

  1. SPEED. When a customer calls you with a potential order, how long does it take you to get back to them with a promise date? Increasingly, customers will want feedback in a matter of minutes – not hours or days. If you’re saying to yourself “That’s impossible.” Well, it is possible.
  2. RESPONSIBILITY ASSIGNMENT. When an unexpected event puts orders at risk, do you know who to call? How many steps are required to understand and rectify the situation? Being responsive to keep a customer order ship date on time requires an immediate response whether that be to an internal resource or external supplier.
  3. ONE VIEW. As you rely more heavily on outsourced manufacturing and suppliers, it becomes increasingly difficult to see and coordinate your supply chain from beginning to end. A ‘twenty-ten’ supply chain solution must be able to provide visibility across sites and suppliers.

The last capability might not stand up to the argument that it cannot be found elsewhere because given enough time and money, anything is possible. However, most manufacturers don’t have enough time and money to continue down the ERP path. Business leaders have realized that now it’s time for something different. It’s going to be an interesting decade.


Paul Boudreau
- February 19, 2010 at 2:48pm
The ‘one view’ is probably what got manufacturers into trouble – they were told ‘one view’ needed to be ‘one system.’ The recent recession may have highlighted the problem of continuing to throw money into big ERPs. Supply Chain Planning is based on data no matter where it comes from. Recession-based budget cuts put more pressure on harvesting the value from existing legacy systems to save costs. If that happens to be smaller systems with a variety of globally dispersed databases there is network capability that can pull the data into ‘one view.’

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