Category Archives: IT

Benefits Not Tools

One of the most challenging problems I encounter with Supply Chain teams, and executives, is the lack of credibility when they try to get support, sponsorship, approvals for major supply chain transformations. It was the #1 problem when I interviewed executives over the last 10 years in supply chain events. It manifests itselves in transformation programs when I hear “How do we know this is going to work?” or “We spend so much money on IT but we never see anything improve, how is this different?” in discussions with VP-level, or even C-level executives, and the teams begin to flounder. They’ve had this discussion before, and embark on one of three paths – discussion of features, discussion tools, or discussion of problems – hoping they can get buy in for a transformation project. Continue reading

KPI Infrastructure

Some time ago I reviewed the KPIs of a group of clients, and what was fascinating was the range of time it took for them to gather only the most essential data – Perfect Order Reliability (OTIF), Order Cycle Time (OCT), Upside Flexibility (Lead Time), Total Supply Chain Cost to Serve (TSCCS), and Cash-to-Cash cycle time (C2C). One team took an hour to get the metrics, even to the detail of segmentation by major supply chains, and so on – it was more time to fill in a form than it was to gather the data (that’s telling you a little bit about form design too). They used standard metrics as part of their overall day-to-day supply chain management, and the infrastructure to report was real-time – for all metrics. Another team took a day. Continue reading

From Supply Chain IT to IT Supply Chain

We are all well acquainted with the story of “the cobbler’s son,” whose father can’t keep his own children shod. Likewise, there is the saying “Physician, heal thyself,” which suggests the problems a doctor faces when he or she undertakes self-diagnosis. Then there’s the advice: “When going into a barbershop, always choose the barber with the worst haircut: He’s the one who’s been giving the other barbers their great haircuts.” And so on and so forth. In business we have our own funny stories. HR has problems with staffing and IT has problems when it seeks to automate its own services. Finance, remarkably, is immune; I’ve never heard of controllers being not able to manage their own budgets. At HP, we had the experience of “Physician heal thyself” when applying business analysis (read supply chain management) to IT processes, with some good results, and I’ll share with you the way we approached this. Continue reading

Metrics Always Win

Over the past two weeks I have had the pleasure of meeting with senior executives from a variety of companies in training situations where we could talk freely and discover opportunities within their businesses for improving their supply chains. SCC trainings—particularly in-house private trainings – take a practical, hands-on focus to supply chain improvement. Managers frequently leave the trainings with specific ideas and improvement programs laid out and ready to go. Continue reading

Growing Up

Many years ago (September, 1994) I read an Scientific American article “Software’s Chronic Crisis” with interest – my job at the time being precisely “Software Development”. The article introduced me to “CMM” (Capability Maturity Model) in software development, as an aid to improving software to avoid the inevitable ‘crisis’. “Maturity” here didn’t connote age (there are certainly very old IT organizations I’ve worked in I would hardly call ‘mature’) but rather ‘well developed’. Continue reading

If You Have a Hammer

As a trainer and advocate of standard process languages and standards for metrics I frequently talk to companies that don’t do classic manufacturing; services providers like banks, insurance companies, software companies, etc. Their observation is that they like the value of the standard reference models (SCOR¹, CCOR and DCOR) but they are too manufacturing oriented: “We buy and sell DIY hardware and tools, we don’t make them” and “we provide banking services, we don’t make or ship money”. The question I would like to address here is whether standard reference models can be deployed in non-manufacturing companies.

It was Abraham Maslow who said that when you have a hammer, you treat everything like a nail. My hammer is the SCOR language which I normally use to describe supply chain processes. With this hammer in hand I find that many processes appear to be some form of supply chain process. An organization or function performs supply chain processes if it delivers some type of goods or services. The problem I found is that the language may not match. Let’s take IT as an example. Continue reading

If I Had a Hammer

“When you have a hammer,” so the saying goes, “everything looks like a nail.” The implication, of course, is that when you have a good problem-solving technique, you tend to look at every problem and see examples of problems that would benefit from the use of your technique. By extension, this saying suggests that people with hammers often try to use them when they are completely inappropriate. Continue reading

Homeland Security Supply Chain

Since the HP Merger and the merger of several government agencies into the Department of Homeland Security overlapped in time, many in HP have been approached to learn what made the HP merger work, what were the best practices, and what were our experiences which could shed light on the government version’s inner workings. This is of particular interest to me: my first experience of the HP merger, in the ‘Cleanroom’ was sitting in a boardroom reviewing the scope and organization, while my Blackberry kept buzzing me. Others in the room also kept picking up their Blackberries and peering intently. Finally someone spoke up – “I’m getting a newsflash that a 747 has hit the World Trade Center”. It was 11 September 2001, and the World Trade Center attacks marked for many of us the beginning of work on the HP/Compaq merger. It’s hard not to see the HP merger and the Homeland Security merger as twins, given birth at the same time, but different parents. Identical Cousins perhaps. Continue reading