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Time to Hang a Shingle

Posted by lcecere Feb 16, 2012

I have tried to avoid it, but to no avail. Last week, I completed paperwork to become the founder and CEO of Supply Chain Insights LLC. Today, I got the word that it was official. The website (under construction) will be up in March. I am busy building content for the official launch.

Yes, it is confirmed. To serve my audience and to deliver supply chain research with the rigor and discipline that I think that it deserves, I am hanging up my own shingle. I am starting my own research firm to focus on emerging topics in supply chain. In this blog, I share insights about my new firm and this new chapter in my life. I give thanks for the customers and supporters that have worked with me over the years that have helped to make this possible.



Why am I doing this? My goal is to reinvent the analyst model. I want to catalyze the shift in power to the user/buyer of software and services and facilitate a community of supply chain business leaders. If I am successful, global supply chain leaders will be able to share insights, experiences and get quick answers to questions on the evolution of best practices and the purchase of software/services. I plan to launch a community for Supply Chain Leaders in August(more on that later). My big hairy audacious goal (BHAG) is to make the Gartner Magic Quadrant and the AMR Research (now Gartner) Top 25 obsolete within two years. Got your attention? <Don’t you think that every gal needs a BHAG?>

What will Remain the Same: I will continue to write this blog and finish the book Bricks Matter. The book is set to publish on August 1st. I will continue to write and speak to audiences that care about supply chain.


What will be Different: One of my first hires in my new business is a quantitative researcher. Together, we will publish deep analytical studies on how supply chain leaders use supply chain practices to drive differentiation. Initially, I will use my network as a research panel group; and over time, I will do research in the Supply Chain Insights Community that I am building. You will find these research studies on our website (under construction) and on slideshare. I will also continue to work collaboratively with Consumer Goods Technology, Institute of Supply Management (ISM) and the Institute of Business Forecasting(IBF) (more on that later).



What is the Research Model? The quantitative studies will be based on the principles of open research(free to all readers). I will publish these reports in front of the firewall. Research that I do in the community–benchmarking and deep analysis of market trends– will be sold through a subscription model (more on that later). My goal is to serve the line of business leader in manufacturing, distribution and retail industries. While vendors may buy access to the services, I am committed to never have more than 50% of the funding for the company to come from vendor-based services.  The initial launch of the company is through personal funds.  I have no outside investors.



How will I Make Money? I will make money for the firm through value-added offerings in the community, speaking opportunities, advisory services, and targeted research projects.



What are my Milestones? The new website will be completed in March and you will see the first reports as part of the website launch. I am targeting August for the launch of the Supply Chain Insights Community. I will add other analysts to the company slowly. These hires will be based on fit, interest and availability.



What are my Research Themes? My primary research themes are Big Data Supply Chains, Cool Technologies, Social Commerce Convergence, and Market-driven Supply Chain Differentation.  I will publish a Supply Chain Index as part of the book launch to help leaders understand how supply chain excellence ties to shareholder value. I will continue to do research on this index as part of the charter of Supply Chain Insights.

I had a user tell me the other day that they think that I am biased. He said that he thought that I was biased towards new start-ups and best of breed vendors. I think that he is probably right.  I do have passion to help small companies grow. I like connecting the innovative spark of new ventures with early technology adopters. As a result, the website will also feature what I feel are cool technologies. (This will not be a paid advertisement. Instead, it will showcase what I think are new/different and differentiated solutions for the early adopter.) The blog content, along with the cool technologies section will be syndicated into a newsletter that will publish twice a month. If you are a supply chain leader, you will be able to opt into this newsletter as part of the official launch. If you have a cool technology that you think should be showcased, please let me know. I will continue to tweet under the Twitter name of lcecere.



I look forward to discussions about the new firm.  I am excited.  I hope that you are also!

Last week, I volunteered to give up a day of vacation to facilitate the Sales and Operations Planning (S&OP) IE event in Las Vegas. I like to facilitate groups, so I was looking forward to the day. As the session progressed, I had a realization that the audience was asking the wrong questions. They went on and on…. …and on and on.


I did not have the time or the energy to turn the tide, but I write this blog so that you can ask the right questions. What do I mean? Please read on…


Sometimes, when I facilitate S&OP sessions, I feel like I am therapist listening to group therapy session for people struggling with the victim complex. When you talk to a victim, they always find some way to weave in the fact that they have been victimized into the conversation. They are a martyr for a cause. I feel that many supply chain professions act like a victim when they talk about sales involvement in S&OP. They are a martyr for the operations cause. Their conversations are centered on these questions:


  • How do you get sales to give you a better forecast?
  • How do you get sales to come to the S&OP meetings?
  • How do you drive ownership of inventory with sales?


Let me let you in on a little known secret. You don’t. These are the wrong questions. You will never be successful trying to leverage change from the supply chain team. Especially if you have a victim mentality trying to make sales “responsible for inventory and forecasts.” You will retire<or get fired> before you MAKE sales do anything. Instead, change the conversation. Build a guiding coalition at the profit center level where sales reports. How? Start with the fact that S&OP on average drives a 2% increase in sales. <Now you have their attention. This is something that they care about.> Then make it worth their while…


  • How do you eliminate sales bias? Apply lean forecasting approaches to the forecasting process to erradicate sales bias and error. Make all people accountable by understanding the value of their contribution to the forecast.
  • What is the role of sales in the forecasting process? Don’t waste their time. Do not ask sales to forecast. Ask them for input on general trends and apply it to the forecast. Sales should never be asked to forecast at an item level.
  • How do you get sales to the S&OP meetings? Make it worth their while by making it important to their boss.
  • How do you make sales responsible for inventory? You don’t. You make the entire team accountable for inventory as part of the S&OP process.


There are natural tensions between sales and operations. Use the tensions to improve the process. Never wear the cloak of the victim. <No one looks good in that color…>



This week, I am busy writing my book. Let me know if you have any great case studies to share.