Supply Chain Planning Consulting
BY NAIMA HOQUE ESSING
In its recent report, ALM Vanguard Supply Chain Planning Consulting, ALM Intelligence found that companies look to consultants to help them align and synchronize their cross-functional
planning activities through operating model and process design, but they increasingly seek opportunities
to use data — made available by the ongoing digitization of their supply chains — to improve supply
chain planning performance.
A major focus of consultants is helping clients to
extract more value from existing ERP-based planning
systems, which have proven inflexible in meeting actual business requirements. While the solution can be
as simple as Excel spreadsheets, more complex environments benefit from new cloud-based software solutions that scrape and shape data from existing systems
and enable a master data set or single source of truth
from which the entire organization can make more informed decisions from planning through execution.
With this digital infrastructure in place, companies
can begin to use their data more strategically, that is,
not only in pursuit of reducing cost and inefficiency but
also in enabling distinctive capabilities that support
growth by improving lead times and service levels.
Consultants are helping companies embed powerful
new analytical tools and methods that enable planning
organizations to streamline and improve their processes. The two areas ripest for applying planning analytics are in improving demand forecasting accuracy and
improving organizational responsiveness to changing
Concerning demand forecasting, consultants are
helping clients capitalize on system connectivity to
capture a wider variety of data sources (social media,
demographics, weather, geospatial) combined with
advanced demand-sensing and predictive analytical
methods and machine learning algorithms to generate
increasingly accurate, granular, and forward-looking
demand forecasts. These tools help tighten the link
between commercial, product development, and sup-
ply chain operations, for example using greater cus-
tomer and product insights to design segmentation
strategies, shape demand, smooth production, opti-
mize product life-cycles and portfolio profitability,
and other business objectives.
Rather than relying on gut feeling or conventional paradigms, supply chain organizations are increasingly using data to improve their speed and ability to
respond to both planned promotional events and unexpected market disruptions. Consultants are helping
these clients build digital models and organizational
capabilities that allow them to use scenario and simulation tools in evaluating alternative actions, assessing
risk and performance trade-offs, and drawing correct
and rapid conclusions.
Looking forward, many companies seek to build
upon these real-time demand forecasts and rapid optimization tools to achieve autonomous supply chain
planning systems. The idea is to eliminate forecasts,
which are always wrong, and instead produce to actual demand using data-dictated governance systems to
continuously and autonomously recalibrate production
parameters (e.g., capacity utilization, inventory buffers) and self-optimize production operations in line
with enterprise-wide strategic goals.
These so-called demand-driven supply chains
are rapidly maturing from proof of concept to actual deployments and require the development of
forward-looking talent strategies that support fewer
but more analytical and digital-savvy planning
The research report by ALM Intelligence, ALM
Vanguard Supply Chain Planning Consulting, delves
deeper into the leading methods and capabilities of
consulting firms offering Supply Chain Planning consulting services.
Naima Hoque Essing is leading ALM Intelligence’s Strategic
Risk and Supply Chain Consulting Research.