I interviewed Danny Bloem who discussed Why North-American Companies Have a Higher Need for Inventory Management Software.
The first question I was thinking of when we had this topic was: First, can you describe what inventory-management software is?
Sure, thanks for having me here, Dustin. Inventory-management software is typically a combination between forecasting and replenishment. By building a forecast based on historical data, allowing input from planners, sales, any promotions, you go back to replenishing your warehouses and fill in the pipeline of your supply chain. That’s inventory management.
I see a bigger need in North America for having that software. I’ve got about three reasons for that. First one being I think North American markets are typically bigger. I see companies here are bigger than back in Europe. By “bigger,” I don’t necessarily mean amount of inventory they have, but just the geographical size of markets. In Europe you see companies, even though the European Union is there, companies tend to stick to their own region or country, whereas here, companies expand over the whole North America, at least to a more complex supply chain when, already internally, they’re more complex. It gives the need for having better forecasting at a branch or regional level. I think the proper replenishment parameters in place benefit those companies here way more than back in Europe. That’s my first reason I’ve got for that.
Furthermore, I see that there is actually a much higher emphasis on good education here in North America. People take more pride in having an M.B.A. or master’s or any graduate degree or having done APIX education; that’s very good, very positive for a market. However, you can have your driver’s license, but if you don’t have a car, you’re not going to get anywhere. In order to use that better education, to have those higher-educated people, you need good software that can support their knowledge. The knowledge level here is good—better than Europe—but without the proper tooling, you’re not going to get any further than the level you currently have.
The third reason I see why companies need inventory-management software is that there’s a higher turnover of people. In Europe we’re pretty left governments, socialists, it’s difficult to let people go, people don’t leave companies as soon. Here, I see there’s a much higher turnover of employees. Businesses are tougher on their people, but that also means you need a stable workflow that’s reproducible. You need to * (3:45—unclear) in software, in your processes. I see you do your inventory-management planning in Excel; that’s just not reproducible and could lead to brig trouble when somebody’s leaving or you’re letting them go. That’s a big risk for companies, and I think that’s a very good reason to get dedicated software that has reproducible working methods…unlike Excel, which doesn’t have that.
Is there anything unique in North America about implementing inventory-management software?
Compared to my experience in Europe—I’ve been working in Europe for a year, and I’m currently residing in Toronto since half a year—I see companies are more demanding of doing implementations. They’re more demanding of the consultants, but there’s not a big difference on that side. Technically, there’s no difference at all.
Can you talk about where you’ve seen some success?
Are you talking about specifically a company, calling out a company name, or…?
Not necessarily a name, but success in North America, for North American companies.
Definitely. I’m currently doing an implementation in automotive companies. There are a lot of benefits. Typically, working with inventory-dedicated software is way faster than working with Excel; you get a lot of efficiency gains. Our software, Slim4, is designed to work on the basis of management by exception, meaning that planners get a lot more time to spend on articles that actually need attention instead of going through a large list of articles and just finding out where the discrepancies are in their forecasting. Software will help them do that so they can actually spend their time, their knowledge, use their experience instead of just looking for those discrepancies, because that’s something a system can take over really easily. I think there’s huge success in that.
There are inventory-management tools, like ours, that have better forecasting, they have more advanced algorithms. That’s already a big win, but I think the biggest win is allowing the time for planners to spend on their forecasting.
Thanks, Danny. Can you also provide a brief background of yourself?
Sure. My name is Danny Bloem. I’m an implementation consultant for Slimstock. Slimstock is the European market leader when it comes to inventory-management software. I’ve been working there for one and a half years now. I’ve got a master’s of science in supply chain management from a university in Amsterdam. I was working in the Netherlands for about a year.
I currently live in Toronto, Canada. I’m doing a lot of implementations in North America now. So far, it’s been a lot of fun. It’s a bit of a different market, it’s more challenging, and it’s a fun continent to live on.
Thank you, Danny, for sharing today.
No problem, Dustin.
About Danny Bloem