Last month there was an interesting announcement in the supply chain world - the strategic alliance between GT Nexus and Kinaxis. The new alliance is promoting the merger of execution and planning - via the cloud. Without knowing all the behind the scene details, this alliance makes a lot of sense on the surface
Something I wrote about a while back is the evolution to closing the loop - to finally being able to get to the “C and A” of PDCA. As companies call from tighter integration between their plans and execution, vendors will have to provide such capabilities within their business offerings. This represents an evolution in supply chain, where there was a separation of church and state between planning and execution (granted there were plenty of vendors that looked to do both).
What this really means is that users should start pushing their supply chain solution providers outside of their “comfort zones.” Just because your vendor is a planning vendor or an execution vendor does not mean they cannot nor should not have a strategy of how they integrate across these two worlds. How do they go about closing that loop? They do not have to do this across the entire supply chain, but within the realm they are dealing with.
For example, in a prior life, we worked with a large high tech manufacturer and their services business. The solution we offered allowed them to tie together their planning and execution for their service and warranty business. It was not only about executing on service tickets, or being able to manage spare parts inventory, or forecasting inventory levels...it was about tying the systems that ran these independent functions. The solution needed was one that would allow this user to reduce their reaction times when it came to service needs. It tied together their systems - both planning and execution. Now we did this via our own systems, but we leveraged the existing infrastructure already doing the underlying work. But as the Kinaxis - GT Nexus alliance demonstrates, vendors need to be thinking about how they can ensure closer integration between planning and execution.
As you continue your supply chain journey, think about how your technology providers can go beyond simple planning or execution and close the loop for you.
Guy Courtin is a veteran of the supply chain and software industries, having held leadership roles at Progress Software, SmartOps and i2 Technologies. He is an active member of the supply chain community and you can read his thoughts on leading blogs, such as this one, or find him at conferences and events - firstname.lastname@example.org
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