Imagine that you’ve decided to make your favorite chocolate chip cookie at home. You opened your favorite recipe, prepared all the ingredients, and pulled out the blender in your kitchen. You then preheated the oven. First, you attach the beater tip to mix the egg and the sugar. Next, the chopper tip for the chocolate. Then, you remove the chopper tip and attach the dough hook for the final mix. Voilà! You were able to make the cookie dough. You bake the cookies in your oven and taste them. How did they turn out?
The blender and the oven comprise a collection of tools that includes exchangeable tips and settings that can be used for different cooking endeavors. Without a great recipe and the right oven settings, the cookies you dreamed about may turn out to be in a landfill.
The difference between a Platform and a collection of Tools is the great recipe book and the right oven settings in our cookie analogy.
Here are 4 distinct reasons why you should prefer a supply chain platform as opposed to a collection of supply chain tools to ensure success in your digital transformation journey:
1) A platform is a living ecosystem
The platform includes a set of tools, indeed. With a toolset, you get the underlying technology to build a supply chain “something.” However, a platform provides the recipe and the balance required for a supply chain ecosystem to thrive: keeps the data for corporate memory, assures data integrity across functional tools, ensures consistency in assumptions and business rules across your tools, diagnoses the root causes of your business ills, predicts outcomes, prescribes optimal ways of managing your supply chain, enables cross-functional KPI measurements, and even keeps teams connected.
Scott Brinker, VP at HubSpot explains: “A platform plays an active role in coordinating how multiple products work together. You can picture a platform as a hub, with spokes connecting other products to its center. The hub binds those disparate products together and orchestrates them in a common mission. A platform creates a stable center of gravity for your tech stack.”
2) A platform manages data with a holistic view
Different supply chain functions require different tools. The data structure of each tool can be different, requiring you to set up different integrations among them. On a platform, the data are held and managed in a single data model that allows data exchange with fast, flexible, and secure integration technology options.
3) A platform adds measurable business value
Internally consistent data, planning parameters and business rules across many functions on a platform create the opportunity to add measurable value in many ways:
1. Let us start with the basic business questions and ask “what happened or is happening?” You need to understand the messages from your historical data in order to identify issues and to take effective actions. For instance, you can start by listing the backorders due to stocked out products. This by itself adds value in informing you of the issue and gets you to focus.
2. Then, you may ask “why did it happen?”. Now, you need to understand the root causes of this problem so that you do not have to hear from screaming customers again. Imagine the ability to drill down and have an AI-based engine digging into your historical transactions on the platform and pointing to a specific reason among many: materials arriving late, manufacturing not following this week’s plan, purchase orders placed late, another priority order got your allocation, etc. This adds value so that you get to take actions to (help) fix the root cause, stay mentally healthy, and perhaps keep your job.
3. Next, you need to have visibility into the future so that you may take proactive action. This begs the question “what is likely to happen?”. By combining data from your demand plan, inventory on-hand, in-transit inventory, production schedule, material inbound schedule, committed future orders, promotion plans, weather data, etc., you can be aware of future problems and their likelihood via an “exceptions and alerts” list: possible stockouts, high-probability backorders, customers that are likely to be upset, products that are likely to move to excess inventory status, growing gaps between the projection and the monthly budget target, etc. This adds value by making you a wise person and a proactive problem solver. Of course, if there are many like you, the business saves money through efficiency, increases revenue through foresight while keeping the clients happier.
4. And finally, ask “what should we do?”. Once you know which products are currently out of stock, the root cause(s) are apparent and you know the likelihood that it might happen again, then the platform prescribes multiple remedies, each of which can be evaluated as a scenario and compared under a total cost-to-serve measure: recalculate optimal safety stocks, reduce production batch sizes, negotiate reduced vendor lead-times, revisit order fulfillment priorities, reoptimize shipment frequency or transportation routing guides, etc.
4) A platform makes it fast to deploy and easy to maintain
A digital platform looks much like a car platform: a shared set of common design, engineering, and production approaches as well as common components used for configuring outwardly distinct models and even custom-looking solutions. The advantages of a platform are the same: robustness, ease of upgrade and/or reconfiguration, and long effective life. Furthermore, having an easy-to-use and consistent user-interface on a platform makes training and adoption much faster and easier, leading to higher planner productivity and shorter planning cycle-times.
In conclusion, we can add the words “connectivity, singular data model, measurable value add, configurability and best-in-class templates,” next to the “collection of tools” to define the supply chain platform.
At Solvoyo, we provide the ecosystem under one roof serving all primary supply chain functions. It’s a next-generation platform with one goal in mind: The only supply chain planning platform a customer would ever need for simple and holistic solutions that generate measurable business value.
We are ready to be your technology partner in your digital transformation process and help you achieve your expected business outcomes.
Request a demo now to see our Supply Chain Analytics and Planning platform in action.