It was our first Holiday season working in Retail. From a Supply Chain perspective the pressure was intense. Despite massive investments the previous year and repeated assurances of Holiday readiness from the incumbent staff the entire experience was disastrous.
First the Distribution Centre (DC) ran out of storage space. Delays by the planning team in releasing orders to the DC resulted in a mad scramble to get goods to the stores and fill their empty shelves. And a never-ending slew of stock-outs and productivity issues made the next few months an absolute nightmare. Potentially blowing the Holiday season was a constant reality which would undermine the very survivability of the company.
The entire team was on the verge of being fired. What on earth happened to Holiday readiness and how could be prevent this from ever happening again?
Much of Supply Chain activity not only involves solving problems but also involves doing the investigative work to find out what caused those problems so as to prevent recurrence in the future. In this vein we launched our “The Supply Chain Detective™ Series” and here we present our first 10 cases!
This is an intriguing and exciting part of any Supply Chain job. Most people don’t just want to be fixing problems. Solving problems, like material shortages, can be highly stressful and exhausting. But the more intellectual exercise is to figure out what happened to create those problems in the first place.
To this end we have captured real life experiences and articulate what happened through the eyes and mind of “The Supply Chain Detective™”.
Here we have summarized the first 10 cases that we have published to date.
The company I had just joined went to market declaring that it was a world leader in Distribution and Logistics. That was a clear contradiction to the Inventory Turnover Mystery I was about to discover.
As I settled into the job and started learning, and studying, the various Supply Chain metrics I was surprised when I looked at the Inventory Turnover performance of the company.
Looking at recent and historical Inventory performance I could see that turnover always stayed around 5-6 turns with little variation. Everyone seemed content with the situation and unmotivated to make it better.
For a company that declared their world leading capability I was astonished. 5-6 turns? True leadership in this areas would require double digit turns.
I needed to figure out what was truly going on and get this Inventory Turnover mystery solved. This was another case for the Supply Chain Detective™.
I was brought into the company to make changes happen. The company was facing overwhelming competition from a global behemoth. The product portfolio was outdated and the company needed to enter new markets with new products. And that meant that a fundamental change in processes, structure, systems and culture was required. There should be no change paradox.
The dire situation, and the need for change, was communicated first from the CEO. And it seemed that everyone in the organization, regardless of level or title, all recognized the need for change and the sense of urgency.
But when it was time to make change happen the level of resistance, from the CEO on down, was incredible.
The forces for change met with equal and opposite forces against change. This change paradox, and the resultant paralysis, could only be solved by The Supply Chain Detective™.
The company I had just joined was only a few months away from completing a multi-year project to revamp their primary Distribution Centre. The project would cost a total of $25 million, which seemed like highway robbery.
Part of my job was to see the implementation of the project brought to a successful conclusion, reaping all of the anticipated benefits.
But as I worked through the pains of a new system implementation, and gained more first hand knowledge, it occurred to me that the system design was completely lacking in strategic value.