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Lauren Bossers' Blog

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Our first SCM30 discussion kicked off last week. Have you been following the conversation? We asked the question: What have been the biggest supply chain mistakes (or failures) during the last 30 years, and what can we learn from them? And we’ve gotten more than a dozen responses so far. Click here to weigh in with your thoughts on the topic.


Last Friday, we posted blog on this topic on the 21st Century Supply Chain blog. The new SCM30 question was posted today: What have been the top 3 advances in supply chain management in the past 30 years?


Spring arrived last week, and that means that the conference season will be in full swing soon. Are you hitting the road for any supply chain events in the next few months? Share your thoughts on the best industry conference to attend this spring in the Industry Events sub-community, and take a look at some of the events that Kinaxis will be attending:


Global Pharma Manufacturing Summit - Edison, NJ

Gartner Supply Chain Executive Conference - Palm Desert, CA

Best of the Best S&OP Conference - Chicago

2012 Global Supply Chain Business Summit - Singapore


We hope to see you in person this spring!

Did you know that this year marks the 30th anniversary of the term “supply chain management”? Though supply chain management concepts have been around since the turn of the last century, Keith Oliver, a consultant with Booz Allen Hamilton, coined the term in 1982.


To commemorate this milestone, throughout 2012, the Supply Chain Expert Community will be exploring the past, present, and future of supply chain management. It all starts on Monday, so look to our Discuss Supply Chain forum for the first question in a series we’re calling SCM30, which will examine what we’ve learned during the past 30 years—and where we’re going next.


In the coming weeks we’ll also be launching a variety of new content with the SCM30 theme, including an exciting new six-word contest in which we will ask you to share your own SCM story. We can’t wait to hear what you have to say!


Speaking of milestones, we just crossed the 6,000-member threshold yesterday! Be sure to take advantage of the wisdom that these thousands of members have to offer—and share your own—in discussion threads such as these:


Best ways to accelerate up the Supply Chain Career Ladder?

Can your supply chain be a competitive differentiator when it's time to scale?

Looking for an S&OP video that could help me to explain the process to the C-level

Is the Outsourcing Job Vacuum Real?


See you on the community,

Lauren Bossers

We all have moments in our jobs where we ask ourselves: How in the world am I going to pull this off? (There might be a few other choice words thrown in there as well.)


When you have those episodes, I want you to think of us. That’s right, when you’re having your lowest professional moments, I want your mind (and then your web browser) to immediately go to the Supply Chain Expert Community. Why? Because there are nearly 6,000 members who can possibly lend a hand.


Just head to our “Discuss Supply Chain” forum and post your challenge, and let the community weigh in. Because I receive an email each time a discussion thread is posted, I personally seek out resources to help every community member find the answers they need. And I am a tenacious networker, so take advantage of that!


Speaking of challenges, take our latest poll: What's your biggest supply chain issue today?


We also want to hear from you when you’re at your best—share your lessons learned and victories with the community as well.


Be sure to explore some of our recent active discussions including:


Is the Outsourcing Job Vacuum real?

SKU Complexity Analysis

Forecasting: Does it belong to Sales and Marketing, or Supply Chain?

Sr. Business Analyst – Supply Chain/Operations, Barnes & Noble


See you on the community,

Lauren Bossers

Like many people, last Sunday I tuned into the Grammy Awards. I was partly driven to see how Whitney Houston was memorialized there, as undoubtedly others were. The show had its highest ratings since 1984—and its second-largest ever—attracting 39.9 million viewers.



What ended up resonating the most with me that night, however, wasn’t a performance, or an award speech. It was a commercial.


The Chipotle ad that aired during the Grammys features Willie Nelson singing Coldplay’s “The Scientist,” as a stop-motion video depicts the story of a man whose family farm evolves into an industrial animal factory. As the business grows, the farmer sees the error of his ways and, as the lyrics say, he goes “back to the start.” The factory is dismantled, and the animals are removed from cages and once again roam free. The final scene shows the farmer placing a crate into the back of a Chipotle truck.


This commercial, which was commissioned by Chipotle to emphasize the importance of developing a sustainable food system, definitely tap dances on all of the heartstrings that it’s supposed to. To the idealist, it is great vision of the way things could (and can) be. And is there any better voice than that of Farm Aid co-founder Willie Nelson to represent the U.S. family farmer? But to the cynic, it will undoubtedly appear as a flagrant oversimplification (hey, what are the financial and logistical implications of all this de-industrialization, anyway?). For me, it triggers both optimism and pessimism.


The song lyrics also sparked another supply-chain-related response from me. If someone were to ever write a song about the challenges of supply chain planning, I think it might sound something like these select lines from “The Scientist” that play over the commercial:


I was just guessing

At numbers and figures

Pulling the puzzles apart

Questions of science

Science and progress

Do not speak as loud as my heart

Running in circles

Chasing our tails

Coming back as we are

Nobody said it was easy

Oh it's such a shame for us to part

Nobody said it was easy

No one ever said it would be so hard

I'm going back to the start


What do you think? Did these lyrics elicit a similar response in the supply chain portion of your brain? And what do you think of the commercial itself? Does it present an overtly idealized vision for farming in the U.S.? Can we really go “back to the start”?

It may be cold outside, but things are heating up on the Supply Chain Expert Community! U.S. employers added 243,000 jobs last month, and we’ve added quite a few on the community in recent weeks. If you’re searching for a new job, or looking to hire new team members, check out the Industry Jobs sub-community.


Speaking of cold weather, if you’re looking out the window at snow as I am today, you might be daydreaming about getting away to a warmer locale. Industry events can provide not only a great professional development opportunity, but also a chance to explore other cities. Take the current community poll and let us know which city you would rather visit for an industry conference: Las Vegas, Austin, New Orleans, or Phoenix/Scottsdale.


While you’re on the community today, explore some of our recent active discussions including:


S&OP Technical Expertise and Trends

Should manufacturers worry about 3D piracy?

Launching a product is a group sport. What position do you play?

How can small businesses innovate in the US?


Show these members some warmth on a cold winter day, and respond to their queries!


See you on the community,

Lauren Bossers

I don’t know about you, but each January, Kinaxis places much focus on finalizing our annual event calendar. We put a lot of time and analysis into determining the conferences that are best fit for us to attend each year. The Industry Event section of the Supply Chain Expert Community is a great place to find out more about upcoming conferences, to post your own events, and to share feedback on the shows that you’ve attended.

I’d like to hear more about what industry conferences you will be attending in 2012, and what you believe constitutes a valuable conference. You can provide your feedback on the discussion thread here:

What makes a great industry conference?

You can also check out some of the events that Kinaxis will be attending in 2012, including:


Chief Supply Chain Officer Summit - Chicago

Sales & Operations Planning for High Tech - San Francisco

Inventory Optimization Summit

Sales & Operations Planning Summit Boston

See you on the community,

Lauren Bossers

Happy New Year! Do you think 2012 will be better for business than 2011 was? Click here to weigh in with your opinion on the latest Supply Chain Expert community survey, which asks, “What will be the major trend for the global economy in 2012?”

Thanks to everyone who entered the Supply Chain Expert Community 2011 Holiday Contest. We had many great entries. The winner of the NOOK Tablet was Len Raney, and the winning entry was:

This year, I asked Santa for a cloud-based solution with real-time visibility for my supply chain, but instead he left 7 e-books, 6 white papers, 5 Six Sigmas, 4 blog posts, 3 business cards, 2 RFP’s and an un-evolved S&OP under my tree. Next year, instead of cookies and milk, I’m going to give Santa a perfectly accurate forecast.

To view all of the contest entries, click here.

Be sure to take a look at some of the recent discussions on the Supply Chain Expert Community, and contribute your thoughts to the conversations:

·         Supply Chain Thought Leadership Videos

·         Are you happy with the Status Quo?

·         European Supply Chain Forum

·         Pharmaceutical S&OP - (scarce supply and govt. control)


See you on the community,

Lauren Bossers

I am pleased to share with the Supply Chain Expert Community this guest blog post from the University of San Francisco:


The use of web-based technology and communication is a necessary component to provide the best outcome for a supply chain system, especially if a company wants to remain competitive in a challenging economy and a global marketplace. However, bridging the gap between knowing what needs to be done and implementing those changes can pose a formidable challenge. 

Increasing knowledge of available software and harnessing the communication skills needed to implement the technology are two vital components of any online supply chain management program. With or without special training, supply chain managers can use the following tips to make the transition smoother for all key players.

1.  Do your research and take the time to know the pros and cons of various software packages ahead of time.

  • Be sure your company has an organizational system in place before choosing software and spend the time to clarify what goals you want to accomplish with the integration of technology before you meet with software vendors.
  • Keep your managers in the loop. Taking the time to plan for and respond to obstacles in the beginning makes the transition easier. Listen to individual concerns and what managers foresee as challenges with the other vendors and clients with whom they interface.

2. Once you have identified a system, keep your communication with all affected parties positive and well-informed.

  • In an economically challenging climate, managers are multi-tasking more than ever. Make it clear how getting on board with your new technology will make their job easier to manage after the initial investment.
  • Communication will flow better; the supply chain will move faster; and with the language barriers removed in software applications, all links along the chain become marketable on the global level.  Communicate these pros explicitly to all your managers.
  • There are always glitches in the adaptation process of any new software; be sure to have support in place to address the specific concerns and problems that might arise. If you cannot address a concern immediately respond with a timeframe for follow up.
  • Find out what the obstacles are and address them head on.  Is a vendor afraid to security breaches; is a client reluctant to take on anything new because of time constraint issues or budget constraints; has someone posed concerns that include a bad experience with similar technology? Listen and take the time to address the resistance on a case by case basis.

3.   One key point of installing technology into a supply chain management system is to leverage more efficiency, power, and competitive advantage out of your investment.

  • With the active collaboration of managers along the supply chain, you will compound your investment, and so will they.
  • A well-planned educational campaign to give management the tools and answers they need to make informed decisions will help your organization build the trust it needs to enforce the control necessary to achieve your specific goals you will now be able to keep track of more efficiently, such as:

o   time compression

o   increased labor efficiencies

o   increased response time

o   streamlined communication

o   and other competitive advantages unique to your own industry

4.  Stress the potential for increased collaboration and profitability for all parties; remain flexible when rolling out conversion timelines, maintain strong communication and follow-up once the process begins.

  • International vendors and clients may need additional training or time to make the transition; be supportive and stress the potential for increased profits.
  • Communicate updates through managers along the supply chain; encourage team interaction.  Has one group solved a problem that can benefit the whole supply chain?
  • Set out a timeline to re-assess the needs and the goals as the market changes, or with the addition of new suppliers. 

While no one can predict all challenges present during the implementation of technology to supply chain management, putting the time in to plan, predict, and personalize the software transition process ahead of time will help boost collaboration, trust, and efficiency of the process over the long haul. Technology is a vital piece of the puzzle in securing and maintaining the competitive edge in an ever-changing and global marketplace. Supply chain managers willing to put in the time to assertively lead technology transitions can reap big rewards with proper planning, education, implementation, and sustained follow-up.

This guest post was provided by University Alliance and submitted on behalf of University of San Francisco. University of San Francisco offers online supply chain management courses that are designed to help professionals advance within the field.


Membership has its privileges. In the case of the Supply Chain Expert Community, members can access the wisdom and real-world experience of more than 4,600 members (and growing daily!). Membership in the Supply Chain Expert Community brings you another privilege that I want to draw your attention to: The free Kinaxis Benchmarking Service.

The Kinaxis Benchmarking Service enables you to determine if your business is on the right course – and where your course needs to be corrected. The service provides a wealth of information to companies interested in comparing their supply chain performance against multiple companies and across various metrics. It is offered at no cost to any registered member of the Supply Chain Expert Community—which is also free! So if you aren’t already a registered member, join today. You must be logged in to view and use the Kinaxis Benchmarking Service; access it here.

While you’re on the community, be sure to view and respond to our latest discussions, including:

Supply Chain Event Management


The problem of managing unanticipated events


Has anybody been able to create a scorecard that shows gross changes instead of Net changes between the Baseline scenario and other?


Recommendations for supply chain recruiter



I look forward to seeing our members share their insights in these and other discussions.



See you on the community,

Lauren Bossers

Have you taken our community web design survey yet? It’s still open, and you still have a chance to win a $50 American Express gift card! Just take a few minutes to give us your thoughts on the home page design of the community here. Be sure to enter your email address at the end of the survey if you want to be entered to win the $50 American Express gift card; one respondent will be randomly selected to be the winner. Click here to read the contest terms and conditions.

Spring is always a busy time for trade shows and conferences. Which ones are you attending this year? Is your company sponsoring or hosting an event? Be sure to visit the community’s Industry Events area to tell us about the events that you’re producing or attending. You can post the details of upcoming events and share your thoughts on conferences you’ve recently attended.

Speaking of events, find out more about what we’ll be doing next week at the Gartner Supply Chain Executive Conference here. We hope to see you in Scottsdale!

We think the Supply Chain Expert Community is ready for a fresh look, and we want to incorporate your feedback into the redesign. Take our community web design survey and you’ll get a chance to win a $50 American Express gift card! This survey should take less than five minutes of your time, so please help us to improve the community. You can take the survey by clicking here. Be sure to enter your email address at the end of the survey if you want to be entered to win the $50 American Express gift card; one respondent will be randomly selected to be the winner.

Speaking of your opinions, we’d love to see more of them on the community polls. Click here to view all of the active polls—be sure to weigh in with your choices!

Are you looking for a new job, or looking to hire a supply chain professional? Visit the community’s Industry Jobs area to view and post jobs for free!

See you on the community,

Lauren Bossers

If you haven’t been watching the “New Kinexions” video series on the Supply Chain Expert Community, you’ve been missing out on some great laughs at the expense of bad software. The sixth and final episode of the series, which focuses on rapid results—or a lack thereof—went live yesterday. Be sure to check it out, along with the first five episodes of “New Kinexions.”

There’s also a new poll on the community, which asks: What do you find most frustrating about enterprise software? You can find the poll on the left-hand margin of the community home page, or on the polls page.

In the past few weeks, the community has hosted some great discussions around practical challenges that supply chain practitioners face today. If you have a challenge you want advice on, or have some best practices to share with the community, start a discussion thread in the in Supply Chain Discussion area. And don’t forget to share your job postings and industry events in those sub-communities. You have more than 4,100 professionals waiting to read them!

What do supply chain skills, safety stock, and a high-maintenance ex-girlfriend have in common? They’re all featured topics on the Supply Chain Expert Community this week!

The latest poll asks: What is the most important skill for a supply chain professional? Respond to the poll on the community home page or on the poll page.

Take a moment to check out this discussion thread that poses the question: Is it appropriate to add safety stock to forecasted finished goods demand? Be sure to weigh in with your opinion today!

Check out “New Kinexions,” the hilarious new supply chain comedy video series that compares bad software to an annoying ex. The latest episode finds Sally Ann Perkins showing what high maintenance is all about when she recites a to-do list as long as her arm, just to get ready for a night out. Ouch! Speaking of supply chain comedy, be sure to watch the new episode of the Late Late Supply Chain Show!

Have you entered our current contest on the Supply Chain Expert Community? It challenges you to complete the following sentence: "Software is like an annoying ex because..." To see the entries that have already been submitted, and to learn how you can win an Xbox 360 console with Kinect bundle, click here.

Happy New Year! 2011 is less than three weeks old, but after many months of economic turmoil, I’m already looking forward to seeing what this year will bring. According to a forecast issued today by the U.S. Chamber of Commerce, the U.S. economy is expected to grow 3.2% this year and add 2.4 million jobs. The world’s leading central bankers also announced on Monday that the global economy is recovering faster than expected, particularly in emerging economies.

But as we all know, an optimistic economic outlook doesn’t translate into diminished risk—the risks just become different. With that in mind, there is a poll on the Supply Chain Expert Community home page that asks you what the biggest supply chain challenge for 2011 will be. Be sure to weigh in with your opinion!

I’d like to thank everyone who participated in the “What’s Your Six-Word Job Description?” contest. We had so many great entries that we decided to create a top ten list that you can view here. Congratulations to Traci Nichols, who won a Toshiba Mini Netbook with the following entry: “Captain Vendor Defender,” referee and psychologist.

Speaking of contests, our latest one is already generating lots of great responses. Whether they're in your professional life or your personal life, all bad relationships have some common themes: frustration, annoyance, and stress, to name just a few. Playing on those commonalities, our new supply chain comedy video series, "New Kinexions," draws parallels between bad software and an annoying ex. We want you to get in on the fun, so our new contest on the Supply Chain Expert Community challenges you to complete the following sentence: "Software is like an annoying ex because..." To learn more about the contest and how you can win an Xbox 360 console with Kinect bundle, click here.

For those of us who work in supply chain management and its related industries, it can be a real challenge to easily describe to others what we do. Despite the fact that supply chain management touches each of our lives on a daily basis, it can often be difficult for a layperson to grasp--and for the experts to explain in a way that is easily understood.


Demystifying the industry, the Department of Supply Chain Management at Arizona State University's W.P. Carey School of Business created a great series of videos to explain exactly what supply chain management is. The format of the videos' information delivery is clear and concise--and, while there is s a healthy dose of whimsy involved, there's also elegance in its simplicity. The concepts are delivered in a way that is easily digestible (and humorous) without leaving you feeling as though it's been "dumbed down." The supply chain manager is repeatedly positioned as a superhero with a cape, someone that children aspire to become.


This type of message is exactly what the industry needs to attract more people to the field of supply chain management, a challenge that only looms larger as we enter 2011. A December 27, 2010 Fortune magazine article calls supply chain management "2011's hottest job you never thought of," in addition to stating that the industry currently has a shortage of qualified managers and "a decidedly unglamorous image."


While the article also states that supply chain management is "the complicated, behind-the-scenes work of getting goods from one place to another, on time and on budget," the video series from ASU proves that, while the work itself may be complicated, explaining the industry doesn't have to be. And, in my opinion, the videos also demonstrate that the industry's "unglamorous" tag is an unfair one. As a resident of Pittsburgh, I'm accustomed to counteracting unjust accusations of being unglamorous, so this battle is one I'm well prepared to wage.


Whether you're a typical consumer, a student contemplating a career in supply chain management, or a 30-year veteran of the industry, there's something to learn from these ASU videos--even if it's just how to explain to your mother what you do for a living. I know I'm planning to send the links to my own family!


Check them out for yourself on YouTube:


Module 1: What is Supply Chain Management?


Module 2: Buy It: Managing Supply


Module 3: Make It: Manufacturing and Operations


Module 4: Move It: Transportation and Logistics


Module 5: Sell it & Service It: Retail Considerations


Module 6: Supply Chain Integration


Module 7: Global Supply Chain Management


Module 8: Socially Responsible Supply Chain Management


Module 9: Business Processes


Module 10: Measuring Performance


Module 11: Quality Management


Module 12: Supply Chains and Information Technology

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