Supply Chain planning is dead...long live planning!

Supply Chain planning is dead...long live planning!

Posted on October 06, 2011 0 Comments

I was just at the annual North American CSCMP event in Philadelphia. I had the pleasure of spending time with some leading supply chain influencers and friends such as: @bob_ferrari, @lcecere, @arnoldmarkwells, @jeffashcroft to name a few.

What struck me was the absence of supply chain planning was from the event. Well I guess it should not be a real surprise when so many vendors have come and gone trying to provide users with the optimal "plan." Over a decade ago there was an explosion of companies that could provide an optimal planning the likes of i2 , Manugistics, Red Pepper Software or Numetrix to name a few, all looked to plan or schedule or optimize different parts of the extended supply chain. The ERP players did not stand still and created their own supply chain planning and optimization offerings - SAP APO even spelled it out- Advanced Planning and Optimization. But then the tide turned.

Businesses and supply chains realized that all the planning and optimization in the world was not a magic bullet. Companies such as i2 and Manugistics recognized they needed to add execution engines to their offerings to compete. ERP players like SAP and Oracle went about developing or acquiring their own execution engines. The past 5 years has seen an increase in the need for better execution, such as TMS (transportation management systems) solutions. Which brings me to CSCMP where the conference was heavy on the logistics and transportation side of supply chain. So has planning been killed off once and for all? No.

Planning will not go away, it should not be retired. Why? Planning is what allows companies to determine how resources will be allocated, where personnel is needed, the level of investments needed and finally what the goals are for the business. The basis of all plans is to determine a path to achieve a goal. Think about football (the american version), you have plays scripted and practiced, why? To achieve goals. Whether the goal is to score a touchdown, gain 5 yards or run out the clock, there are plays (plans) in place with the intent to reach these goals. Of course once on the field, you must execute this plan. As we all know, "no plan survives the first contact with the enemy." This is where execution kicks in, you need to be able to execute your plan. There is a third element to this - reducing the gap between execution and the plan. What do I mean by this? The ability to rapidly sense out of plan events, determine their impact and take corrective action.

There was some discussion about this on the floor at CSCMP, and many I spoke with were very excited about an ability to do this. The question remains, are we ready to move our focus away from simple execution and planning to the ability to truly correlate the two in such a manner that we can reduce our reaction time to out of plan events?

What do you think? And if you were at CSCMP what were your thoughts?

Guy Courtin

View all posts from Guy Courtin on the Progress blog. Connect with us about all things application development and deployment, data integration and digital business.


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