Supply chain planning, demand planning, forecasting, inventory optimization, replenishment, inventory management. Visit https://www.planningposts.com and subscribe at https://resources.blueridgeglobal.com/supply-chain-blog-podcast-subscribe/. PlanningPosts is sponsored by Blue Ridge - visit https://www.blueridgeglobal.com for more info.
Optimizing New Items: A Demand Forecasting Conundrum
Optimizing new items is one of the biggest conundrums in inventory optimization and demand forecasting. This PlanningPosts podcast with Tracy Coon reveals some LifeLine strategies to improve success with forecasting new-product demand.
5 Immediate ROI Areas for Supply Chain Planning Software
We all know what it’s like to have extreme inventory challenges and to be expected to deliver big ROI results through supply chain planning software. But isn’t it much more fun to watch and learn from another company going through it?
Admit it. You love knowing that you aren’t alone. It helps to know that other supply chain planning and demand planning teams are also sweating. So imagine this scenario:
You’re hired as a new demand forecasting team leader for a wholesale company. You are brought in and expected to align your team, install a new supply chain planning solution, then ensure that the two come together and deliver fast and dramatic improvement to customer experience and inventory reductions.
Sounds exciting doesn’t it? Sounds like a lot of pressure, also? To us it sounds like great reality TV, so let’s dive right in!
Today PlanningPosts welcomes special guest Chris Longhito, VP of Purchasing and Inventory Management at Global Industrial, along with Mike Mills, Director of Business Consulting, Blue Ridge, and Dan Craddock of Catalyst Consulting, to discuss 5 immediate ROI areas for supply chain planning software.
Episode 14 Show Notes
Will:Welcome back to our Planning Posts supply chain blog and podcast community! This is Will Haraway from Supply Chain Now and Backbeat Marketing, and I will once again be your host. I am especially excited to be your host for this episode!
If there were ever a chance to change the format from a podcast to a REALITY TV SHOW. Guys…. I think it would be this episode.
Welcome, Chris! And a big welcome back to our PlanningPosts ‘resident’ experts. Mike & Dan, tell me first…. can Chris do it?
Mike: Will, we have known Chris a long time. Trust me, if anyone can do it, it’s Chris. I have worked with Chris and his teams for years, and he has trusted me with the training of inventory gurus. Chris hires and develops true supply chain planning professionals!
Dan: Mike, I like Will’s idea of a Reality TV Series with this one. First of all, Chris is a big movie buff. He’s even part of a weekly movie podcast crew.
But Will, I agree with Mike. Chris is such a unique talent. He has been in this position before and delivered really great financial results. If anything, I think our community will want to follow him not just for the enjoyment of watching them go through it, but to learn from his experiences. I think do have a chance for a podcast series here.
Will: Well Chris, those are some big expectations. Welcome to the show and tell us about your team and where your head is right now as you prepare to go from good to great.
Chris: Thanks, guys. [Gives overview of his company, position at Global Industrial, his great team, and a quick 30,000-ft view of the coming weeks].
Mike: We should mention also that Chris, like all of us, was an inventory analyst/buyer when he started, and because of his success Chris moved to the unique role of Champion Leader — then of course now, in recent years, reached the executive level that leads the inventory team.
Dan: Yes. So Mike and I were really lucky to work with Chris because whenever we had a new idea or new strategy we wanted to try, we would turn to Chris and he would implement it. You always go first where you know you are going to be successful.
Chris was the first to implement our Blue-Chip Buyer program and to do some of the
unique professional development of team members at Henry Schein.
The Henry Schein executives were committed to building the best inventory team in the world and they positioned and equipped Chris to be a key part of doing that.
3 End-of-Year Demand Planning Strategies to Use Right Now
Year-end… A time to kick back and relax. But not entirely. These last couple weeks are the perfect downtime to squeeze some low-hanging fruit from your year’s efforts.
Today’s episode offers 3 strategic year-end moves your supply chain planning team should make right now to close out 2019 with a bang.
Sven Aunapu, Director, LifeLine Services & Analytics at Blue Ridge and demand planning veteran Dan Craddock say these moves center around “The 3 Ps” – the areas of PROFITS, PRODUCTIVITY and PLANNING.
Sit back, relax and enjoy today’s show, hosted by Supply Chain Now host Will Haraway.
Episode 13 Show Notes
Will: Welcome back to our Planning Posts’ community. I’m Will Haraway from Supply Chain Radio and Back Beat Marketing, and I received a very special request to come in to the studio and get the podcast going and get it on the air!
The mail arrived, I quickly opened the envelope and began to read this invitation:
‘Twas the month before year-end…
And all through our community
Every planner was replenishing and prepared for opportunity!
All the orders were placed, with great service and care,
But there is a last chance for profits,
We need to make you aware!
This was the request to come in and help deliver a very special end-of-year podcast.
I have two guys sitting with me who have been telling me stories of what they used to do during the final weeks of the year. They make it sound like ‘The most wonderful time of the year’ in the inventory profession…
I don’t know, maybe it is!
They claim that the final weeks of the year are the ultimate chance for PROFITS, PRODUCTIVITY AND PLANNING.
Welcome back, Sven Aunapu and Dan Craddock.
(Thanks and hello)
Guys… PROFITS, PRODUCTIVITY and PLANNING? I would think this is more a time to kick back a bit and enjoy, but you suggest it is time to lean forward and take advantage of some opportunities.
Tell me more, and why those three specific words?
Dan: Will, it’s not just those three words.
It is those three words in THAT order:
Profits – Productivity – Planning
Sven: Dan, you have to start with PROFITS. Do you agree?
Dan: Absolutely, I do.
Sven: One of THE most popular podcasts on this show was the podcast on Forward Buying & Deal Buying. Everyone listened to Paul Rose of Henry Schein talk about how his team had that extra inspiration at the end of each year to approach those companies that had a chance to offer a deal if they received a larger order.
The end of each quarter is popular for this, but the end of the year is the grand finale. Sales people need to hit their numbers. Sales executives need to hit numbers. Production managers need to get product off of the floor.
Buying on deals is one of the most profitable inventory moves any retail or wholesale distributors can make. There is no question about that.
Dan: Will, Sven is really suggesting that our inventory community out there go pro-active.
I was an inventory replenishment buyer many years ago for a wholesale hardgoods distributor. I will admit that we were very guilty of sitting and waiting for the phone to ring. Who is going to offer us a deal this year?
That is actually what most inventory teams do. They sit and wait.
If they do make proactive calls,
How to Reduce Inventory 10% in 90 Days
In distribution, managing inventory is a beast. Competition is relentless and supply, wickedly unpredictable. So you stock up. At some point, executives notice the high cost of this and demand an urgent inventory reduction. You start to sweat. Service levels and sales can’t suffer because you’re also on the hook for that. More sweat. So what do you do? You listen to today’s episode… which offers prescriptive strategies on how to reduce inventory 10% in 90 days.
Jeff Ritter, seasoned LifeLine Consultant at Blue Ridge, and Dan Craddock, PlanningPosts evangelist join the show to explain how to reduce inventory in both manual planning environments and those where advanced supply chain planning tools are in use — such as machine learning-based analytics, automated demand forecasting and replenishment optimization solutions, and even pricing optimization solutions — to work better and faster.
Episode 12 Show Notes
Will: Welcome back to the PlanningPosts Podcast. I’m Will Haraway, your guest host and host of Supply Chain Now Radio.
The theme and feel of today’s podcast will be Urgency! It is about a challenge thrown at every inventory planning team every year or two.
You just got your first cup of coffee…. You and your team just sat down to place orders when your CEO walks into the department and makes the announcement:
“WE NEED TO DROP INVENTORY 10%. AND… WE NEED TO DO IT IN 90 DAYS.”
I believe all of our listeners who have spent any time in or around the inventory planning profession have heard these words, and you are probably having some P.T.S.D. over it right now. You have been there.
Alright. So YOU NEED TO REDUCE INVENTORY 10%. Don’t worry about why; someone has decided that for you. You need a plan. We are here to help. And I have two guys here who are chomping at the bit to give you that plan.
You’ve heard of the company College Hunks Moving Junk? Well today we have Inventory Guys Reducing Supplies. Welcome again, Jeff and Dan!
Dan: Thanks, Will… Proud to be an Inventory Guy and I love this topic because it is so real. We have all been there and this is a perfect chance to help our community put a plan together BEFORE that next bold request happens.
Not only have I been in this spot, but I’ve had the chance to work with Jeff in this spot over the years……
Jeff, what reaction do you have when you think of those times that this request came up?
Jeff: [says hello and shares his reaction and quick memories]
Will: Guys, this is clearly a common request and a hot topic. What’s the best way to share great information with our audience, since people are on different systems and strategies?
Dan: Jeff and I talked about this and we are going to approach by splitting the audience into two groups, even though we want everyone to listen and learn from all of it:
The first group we’ll call the manual planners. They’re using things like an ERP solution, spreadsheets or other manual process to plan.
Our second group is the advanced planners. Pretty self-explanatory, but just in case you had too many beers last night or something… They’re using an advanced supply chain planning solution (of any level or sophistication).
We’ll give strategies for each group here.
Will: Sounds good. And don’t forget that this request is unique because there is an u...
The Role of AI in Price Optimization
Pricing shapes demand and demand shapes pricing.
Traditionally, the two were much more separate discussions. Today, the power of AI creates an opportunity to blend price optimization strategy with demand forecasting to create a value multiplier for distributors.
Episode 11 Introduction
Cliff Isaacson, EVP Product Strategy joins our show today to discuss the role of AI in pricing strategy. He shares how distributors are using Price Optimization solutions that combine pricing with supply chain planning to navigate the uber-complex B2B sales channel.
In fact, according to Gartner, nearly 1,000 companies had deployed Price Optimization and Management (PO&M) solutions at the end of 2018 — a 30% increase from 2017. Furthermore, Gartner estimates that as many as 10,000 B2B companies globally might benefit from a PO&M deployment.
when you combine Price optimization solutions with demand forecasting and ai, you get a continuum of intelligence that just keeps improving over time.
How AI-Enabled Price Optimization Works
AI-enabled Price Optimization solutions bring smart analysis to both price segmentation and customer segmentation across a broad assortment of items. So distribution businesses can get closer to actual demand BEFORE they make a risky price adjustment.
These systems apply AI and Machine Learning to merge big data with computational power to deliver deep confidence in your demand forecasts. You know the financial outcome will be a good one. And that’s a massive competitive differentiator.
Unlike B2C retail businesses where demand is much more obvious, the science is different in B2B. You have volume plays, payment terms, supplier negotiations. Even the item mix is much broader and should be analyzed with a different kind of intelligence.
A fully integrated Price Optimization solution quickly identifies under-priced and over-priced items, calculates max price, and identifies your top price-sensitive customers. So you can respond with agility and impact gross profits. Contact us after you listen to the show to get ROI examples or just share your pricing challenges.
Episode 11 Show Notes
Todd: Earlier we talked with Rod Daugherty about AI and machine learning in supply chain planning. Now we’re going to explore the role AI plays in your pricing strategy. We are joined by Cliff Isaacson, Director of Pricing Solutions. Cliff, Welcome!
Cliff: Thanks for having me, Todd. Yes, I want to start by saying that the Art of Pricing in an AI-driven world involves a great deal of science.
There are several points I want to make today:
* You have to look at price sensitivity, which is very difficult to determine and ultimately the customer’s willingness to pay.
* It’s even more difficult for certain items and industries such as distributors and manufacturers selling on B2B channels.
* If you want to get better at determining price elasticity, you HAVE to have Machine Learning.
* Pricing segmentation best practices vary by industry, but all can benefit from Machine Learning.
* And finally, pricing strategy approaches depend on customers and industry, but are gaining early benefits from AI.
Todd: I’ve heard you talk a lot about retail vs. industrial price optimization. How does the science differ in each of those applications?
Cliff: Science in B2C pricing: elasticity measurements, pricing segmentation, inference,
Moving Your Inventory Team from Defense to Offense
Today in Episode 10 we are sitting with two former inventory analysts who have now evidently turned into offensive coordinators! Welcome, Sven Aunapu and Dan Craddock.
Sven is Director of LifeLine Services and Analytics, joined by Dan, our resident inventory planning evangelist. They are here today to share 7 steps to move your inventory team from playing defense throughout the day to playing offense when forecasting demand and reporting on their success.
Enjoy the show, share it, and subscribe to PlanningPosts for more great supply chain planning resources from our playbook!
Episode 10 Show Notes
Todd: Guys… You have to explain this to me and to our audience out there.
You both claim that, in your inventory days and in your travels, most inventory teams find themselves playing defense way more than they would like. I need to hear more about this phenomenon.
In addition to both of you being education specialists and consultants in the area of inventory optimization, you were both inventory analysts, correct?
Dan & Sven: That’s right, Todd.
Todd: And both of you say it has become the norm for inventory teams to always be on the defensive?
Dan & Sven: Indeed. Absolutely.
Todd: Okay, Dan, let’s start with you. What does that mean and what does it do to the team?
Dan: Todd, when you look at this from 30,000 feet or from this podcast studio, it sounds amusing. But I will tell you that when you live in it, being on the defensive 24/7 does not feel amusing!
You see, we have chosen a profession that mainly gets feedback when things go wrong. When I started as a replenishment analyst years ago, I was told the following: “Hey kid, know this… When you are out of stock, it is your fault. When you are overstocked, it is your fault. When things go well, it is thanks to the sales team or the store teams!”
I learned pretty quickly that my goal was to minimize the noise! Minimize the noise from sales and customers when out of stock and from our CFO when overstocked.
The goal of the inventory planning profession for many became…
‘Stay. Out. Of. Trouble.’
Because of this, you are always playing defense and explaining yourself. Even traditional reports that would hit everyone’s desk in the morning started with the Out-of-Stock Report, which basically highlighted, “Here is how Dan hurt the company yesterday.”
Sven, you lived this same world as a replenishment buyer in both wholesale and retail didn’t you?
Sven: Yes, the same world, the same people, same approach — just different names.[Sven elaborates on his experience].
Todd: So if that is the case, let’s make this really worthwhile for our audience. If your inventory teams are facing this dilemma, we need to break down why it is happening and give them hope and a plan to make it better.
Before we talk about that plan, is there hope? Have inventory teams successfully made the move from playing defense to playing offense?
Dan: Todd, there is most definitely hope. And many inventory teams have flipped the script and can share incredible stories of what a difference it makes in the confidence of the team.
There are inventory leaders out there who will tell the story of their team growing from the LEAST respected department in the company to the MOST respected department in the company. Henry Schein, Inc. is a great example; one of our most popular podcasts covered their story from SVP Supply Chain Paul Rose, including strategies for forward buying. a href="https://resources.blueridgeglobal.com/how-to-create-a-culture-for-innovative-forward-buying-feat-henry-schei...
Very timely information!
Informative & Entertaining Podcast!
PlanningPosts is an awesome podcast with great information for individuals in all levels of wholesale distribution companies. The topics are informative and thoughtful while still being entertaining to the listener. I highly recommend giving it a listen!
This is a great resource for supply chain professionals. I subscried and now I get great quality content applicable to my job.