The Supply Chain Detective™ – Our First 10 Cases!

10 Cases

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.

1. The Supply Chain Detective™! In Search of Broken Supply Chain Clues!

Fittingly our very first article was set up to introduce The Supply Chain Detective™ and the concept of investigative analysis and problem resolution in this arena.

In this article we also discuss “The Scene of the Crime” and “Discovering the Clues and Connecting the Dots”. These concepts are applicable for anyone in any company and in any industry.

2. The Supply Chain Detective™ and the Case of the Unpaid Invoices!

Our first full case involves a real life situation in which a mountain of unpaid invoices had suppliers rebelling and compromising the continuity of supply necessary to run a manufacturing operation.

Here we follow the The Supply Chain Detective™ investigation as to the clues uncovered, the issues that caused the problem, and then on to the solution.

3. The Supply Chain Detective™ and the Mystery of the Rock Star Boss!

The company had hired a new Chief Procurement Officer. As the CEO said this person was selected because he was considered to be a “Rock Star” in the field. But within a few months this “Rock Star” imploded and disappeared completely, never to be seen again.

In this article we follow the investigation as to what happened and how the situation was analyzed and solved, in a future that would no longer involve the “Rock Star”.

4. The Supply Chain Detective™ and the Case of the Missing Cash!

The CFO came into my office and told me we had a problem. We only had enough cash to pay either the employees or the suppliers for the next week. This was certainly a Catch-22 situation.

Follow along as we investigate what happened to create this untenable situation, what was causing the cash shortage, and the steps that were taken to restore cash flow.

5. The Supply Chain Detective™ and the Distribution Centre Disaster!

Having just joined this Retail company I was highly interested in the enormous automation investment they had just made in their Distribution Centre. I was shortly however completely astonished when the head of the DC called me to say that the Distribution Centre was out of space and could no longer receive and process goods, all in advance of the critical holiday season.

Here we learn how this complete breakdown occurred and the steps that were taken to ensure the very survival of the company during the busiest time of the retail year.

6. The Supply Chain Detective™ and the Inventory Turnover Mystery!

I had just joined the company which declared itself one of the leading Distribution and Logistics companies globally. But as I crawled into the details I learned that they only had 5-6 inventory turns. This was not only lagging most of the industry but was highly embarrassing.

In this case we follow the journey of discovery as to what was driving this chronically poor inventory performance. Then we proceed to use these investigative discoveries to double the inventory performance of the company in record time, creating a truly leading result.

7. The Supply Chain Detective™ and the Mystery of the S&OP Phantoms!

The company had no S&OP (Sales and Operations Planning), or SIOP process. Without this level of planning there were broken processes, missed metrics, customer delivery problems and financial losses.

In trying to create and embed an S&OP process in the company there were a lot of blockers, ghosts and phantoms getting in the way of process implementation and success. In this case we investigate why the problems occurred even though everyone stated they saw the need.

8. The Supply Chain Detective™ and the Holiday Readiness Catastrophe!

The holiday season is the biggest part of the Retail calendar. For most companies their yearly success depends entirely on a successful holiday period. Imagine my surprise that as goods started to come in our DC was unable to handle the volume of goods.

The Supply Chain Detective™ investigates this situation in the middle of a phenomenal crisis, which was necessary to turn things around quickly and save the holidays and save the company.

9. The Supply Chain Detective™ and the Change Paradox!

The company hired me to drive change and business transformation. Their old business model was under threat from intense competition and they needed to make change happen.

But despite the message for change coming from the CEO on down, the forces against change, also from the CEO on down, were contradictory. Here we investigate what happened, the characteristics of the saboteurs, and how to recognize these blockers creating the change paradox.

10. The Supply Chain Detective™ and the $25M Robbery!

The company had just invested $25 million in upgrading and automating their entire Distribution Centre operation. Being new to the company the project, which was nearing completion, seemed very impressive.

However within a short time it became obvious that they had just automated their old ways of doing things. There was no attempt to make improvements or streamline the process. Sticking to that old paradigm cost the company at least $2o million more than was absolutely necessary.

What happened and how did they miss the mark so badly? It certainly felt like a robbery had taken place in the 10th of our first 10 cases.


Every day Supply Chain professionals are involved in situations and problem solving which aren’t right. Decisions, processes and circumstances have all conspired to create these issues.

By investigating these problems and doing the forensics we can uncover the clues that will need to be understood in order to understand and resolve these issues so that they do not recur.

We hope you enjoyed our first 10 cases. Stay tuned for more cases from The Supply Chain Detective™!

First 10 Cases article originally published on July 19, 2022.