One of my most sincerely held beliefs is that the most valuable things in life need effort. This seems to be as true of supply chain development initiatives as of any other area of life. And with IT-enabled development it’s doubly true. However, even though technology is evolving to become more flexible and quick to implement, many companies are still haunted by their experiences of the never-ending, byzantine IT projects that used to be the norm.
In our ‘State of the Retail Supply Chain 2017’ study of supply chain planning practices amongst European retailers, the leading reasons for a lack of new investment were budgetary reasons and the perceived complexity of and risks involved in implementing a new solution. Their apprehension is, to a large extent, borne out of bitter experience, or the experience of others, who tried implementing last-generation planning software.
The Most Valuable Things in Life Need Effort
Software as a Service (SaaS) removes one of those obstacles. It’s no longer necessary to commit to such a large investment because it allows a pay-as-you-go approach where the process improvements are financed by the actual savings generated from the improved quality of the process resources. The flexibility made possible by In-Memory Computing allows companies to change their business modelling, user interfaces and system processes at will, on-the-fly, and thus adapt the solution to their processes and their needs with the minimum of stress. This possibility helps to completely circumvent the challenges with complex fixedly defined processes.
The biggest strength of SaaS-based solutions is that they allow you to try out new ways of running your supply chain processes. Through using a system in practice you normally learn how to use it quickly and can therefore make progress faster, and of course, you can make better decisions about those tools once they’ve been put properly through their paces.
Failing quickly is the cheapest way to fail.
In my experience, testing is most effective when one really rises to the challenge. The solution and the vendor should be tested hard and tested quickly so you can master and assess them quickly. And if the test fails, you will fail quickly – and failing quickly is the cheapest way to fail!
The best example of this approach is Booths. There the IT and eCommerce director Andrew Rafferty wanted to take on the hardest challenge first – the chilled cabinet products. His rationale for the decision was this:
That’s the way to learn and develop fast!