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Make Sure Your Supply Chain Planning Solution Has All the Gears You Need

Aug 19, 2015 2 min

A while back I was taking part in a cycle road-race in Finland. It was a lovely day and it was great to be back in the saddle feeling the excitement, effortlessness and freedom of riding in a peloton. I was also riding my new bike with electric gears (I know, how lazy can a guy be, having a gadget to change gears for him?).

I was doing pretty well and was towards the front of the peloton as the race was nearing its end. And then the battery that operates the electric gear died. After that it was a struggle. Every time we headed uphill I found myself slogging away in a relatively high gear, having to pump really hard and risking getting cramps in my thighs. When we hit the level or slight downhill slopes I had to pedal frantically, over 150 revolutions per minute, just to keep up with the pack. It quickly reminded me just how useful gears are; they set the mechanics of your bike just how you need them when you want to accelerate; likewise whether you’re just cruising, motoring along at top speed, getting ready to climb or spinning downhill, they transform the bike into the machine you need for the job.

I believe the same is true of the best supply chain planning solution. The solution should be flexible and comprehensive enough that you can comfortably cruise through regular weeks of demand and supply. But it should also allow you to change gear when you get into the rhythm of planning for promotions and sales seasons.

Expect Better of Your Planning Solution

Too often it seems that planning teams can cruise comfortably with their solutions during normal times, but when, for example, Christmas is getting closer, they have to start pedalling heavily on different planning Excels just to stay on top of the job, because their main tool doesn’t support seasonal planning properly. It’s the supply chain management equivalent of pedalling like mad and it leaves you exhausted – I know, on both counts! The problem is becoming ever more prevalent as sales increasingly come from promotions and seasons, and you cannot leave your planning team over-extended like that for too long.

Maybe it’s time that we all expected better of our planning solutions – that they be sufficiently adjustable to offer a good level of support across all the supply chain planning challenges we face at different times.

Written by

Mikko Kärkkäinen

Mikko Kärkkäinen

Co-founder & Group Chief Executive Officer