Could supply chain design have saved us from some of the logistical headaches of 2021? And in a world of constant variability, are there really any “safe assumptions” left to guide supply chain planning? It’s time for a reset – and in this episode, we’re bringing you the perfect pair of vision and insight with Lora Cecere, Founder of Supply Chain Insights, and Dr. Madhav Durbha, Vice President of Supply Chain Strategy at Coupa Software. They join host Scott to discuss:
1) The top 5 reasons supply chain design isn’t succeeding at most organizations
2) How to effectively implement technologies that can drive decisions (and not just data)
3) Who’s succeeding in the industry when it comes to continuous design
4) Predictions for the supply chain’s future
5) Five supply chain assumptions to leave behind heading into 2022
Welcome to Supply Chain Now, the voice of global supply chain. Supply Chain Now focuses on the best in the business for our worldwide audience, the people, the technologies, the best practices, and today’s critical issues, the challenges, and opportunities. Stay tuned to hear from those making global business happen right here on Supply Chain Now.
Scott Luton (00:32):
Hey. Hey. Good morning. Scott Luton with you here on Supply Chain Now. Welcome to today’s webinar. Folks, you’re in store for something really special today, resiliency and agility. Hey, how many times have you heard those words in supply chain conversations this year? How about network or supply chain design? Has your organization been rethinking its approach there? Well, today, you have the opportunity to learn from two of the best in the business as we have Lora Cecere and Dr. Madhav Durbha with us here today. Lora, how are you doing?
Lora Cecere (01:07):
I couldn’t be doing better. You know, as they say at West Virginia, fine as frog hair. And you?
Scott Luton (01:11):
Almost fine as frog hair. So, great to have you, Lora. And, Dr. Madhav Durbha, how are you doing?
Dr. Madhav Durbha (01:18):
I’m doing great. By the way, spare the doctor. Just call me Madhav. I’m good. I’m doing great. And how are you, Scott?
Scott Luton (01:25):
Awesome. We’re doing wonderful. I’m not doing quite as good as someone that had a hundred mile long distance bike ride, but maybe we’ll talk about that a little later on. So, welcome Madhav. Welcome Lora. And more on both of these esteemed panelists here in just a minute. But, hey, you’re in for a treat today with these two panelists. Let me introduce them, our esteemed panel.
Scott Luton (01:45):
First off, Lora Cecere is Founder of Supply Chain Insights, where she leverages 40 years of diverse supply chain experience to change the face of enterprise technologies, especially to help early adopters that are seeking that first mover advantage. She’s author of the popular blog, Supply Chain Shaman. She’s hosted a long running podcast, Straight Talk With Supply Chain Insights. And Lora’s mission is a simple and beautiful one, to help supply chains make the world a better place. I love that. Lora, good morning again. Great to have you here.
Lora Cecere (02:20):
Scott Luton (02:20):
All right. So, with Lora, we have Dr. Madhav Durbha, again, the Vice-President of Supply Chain Strategy at Coupa Software. Now, Madhav and his team helped customers and prospects solve a wide variety of supply chain challenges. Prior to Coupa, Madhav held positions at LLamasoft, Kinaxis, JDA Software, and i2 Technologies Incorporated. Now, with more than 20 years in the supply chain industry, Madhav has broad experience in strategy and process consulting, supply chain software, program management, software application development and deployment, and machine learning and data science. Madhav, great to have you once again.
Dr. Madhav Durbha (03:00):
Thank you. Thanks for having me.
Scott Luton (03:01):
So, the question is, not what we can solve here today, but what can we not solve today with Lora and Madhav. But today’s focus, again, that resiliency, that agility. That really brings us to – Lora, I’m going to start with you – supply chain design. That’s going to be a big thrust of our conversation here today. So, I want to start with our first question to you, Lora, how could the use of supply chain design have improved outcomes in 2021?
Lora Cecere (03:31):
So, Scott, only 9 percent of companies actively design their supply chain. And most companies are basically using Excel Spreadsheets. Which, it’s hard to manage a complex non-linear system like supply chain on an Excel Spreadsheet. And the traditional supply chain process delivers an efficient supply chain. And the resilience supply chain is one that has the same ability for balance sheet results given variability. And the agile supply chain is designed to absorb variability. So, if you’re not actively designing, you’re looking at buffers, push bullet, coupling points, form and function of inventory, location of suppliers, particularly with this high demand and supply variability environment, you can’t be resilient and agile. And that’s what a lot of people are finding out.
Scott Luton (04:24):
Well said. Madhav, same question to you, you know, how could the use of supply chain design at all or a better approach to supply chain design have improved outcomes in 2021?
Dr. Madhav Durbha (04:35):
Sure. So, if you look at how the companies make decisions, most companies make their decisions based on a preexisting thinking around supply chain planning and execution and so on and so forth. Oftentimes, the assumptions, the policies that guide these planning processes, are set in stone. Once you implement, once you go live, nobody goes back and questions and challenges those assumptions. But guess what happened? In the last year or so, all the pre-existing assumptions around the supply chains have been thrown out the window. One has to completely reimagine how their supply chains should look like and operate. And those are the areas where supply chain design can be of great help. In terms of outcomes, we’re finding more toilet paper on the shelf, right?
Scott Luton (05:25):
So, on that note, Lora, you shared a powerful statistic, and I want to ask about that in a second. But Madhav just brought up all these assumptions. All these assumptions that organizations, leaders, practitioners have made, continue to make, and they go unchallenged. But they have such a powerful impact on how supply chains perform. Do you want to speak to that for a second, Lora?
Lora Cecere (05:49):
I mean, you see it around us every day. One of the issues of the toilet paper shortage was the volume increased 23 percent. And we couldn’t stuff that volume through the retail doors. Now, if we had been doing active design, we would have looked at the middle mile and we would have looked at bringing that product directly to the stores, or redesigning those warehouses. But we just — we could make that a fit. If we look at what’s happening in Long Beach and Port of LA, we’ve got 39 percent more volume. We don’t have enough chassis. We don’t have enough chassis that are in working order. There’s no one that’s synchronizing those moves. And there’s also the need for us to step back and rethink, could we do this regionally? Could we simplify that bill of materials? Could we change where we actually are doing our buffers? And we’re only talking about the symptoms. We’re talking about all the ships off the shore. And the fact that ocean freight is five to seven times more expensive. And that the variability is much higher.
Lora Cecere (06:51):
But I got to tell you, Scott, only one percent of companies have – what I call – a supply chain planning master database, which is looking at variability and how lead times and conversion rates are changing in this world of variability. And they’re not designing for it. And so, we’re sort of asleep at the switch continuing to talk about symptoms.
Scott Luton (07:11):
Okay. Because I want to talk about the why there. You know, going way back to why only 9 percent of companies actively design their supply chains. Because as Lora said, Madhav, we’re talking about much of the country, much of the globe is talking about the symptoms. But speak to that for a second, Madhav, why are only 9 percent of companies actively designing their supply chains?
Dr. Madhav Durbha (07:37):
I think the key word that you used there is actively designing supply chain. So, when you ask somebody, “Do you design your supply chain more often than not?” They say, “Yeah. We design our supply chain.” Oftentimes, if you look at your supply chain maybe once in a year, once in two years, and make some adjustments, and off you go. So, I think the key word that you used is actively designing supply chains. So, some of the limitations that I see is, first of all, this thinking that supply chain design is this episodic exercise that I undertake only when I need to. Otherwise, I’m just running my planning and execution processes, and I’m happy. It’s like saying that I go to gym once in six months or once in a year and I feel fit. So, you know, that’s part of the challenge.
Dr. Madhav Durbha (08:27):
And part of the challenge is also in terms of what we talked about when these kinds of disruptions strike, it’s very easy to get myopic. We tend to trade our, you know, telescope for the microscope. We get so narrowly focused on here and now. But there is so much talk about real-time visibility. Where is my shipment? If you know that your shipment is sitting on a ship that is sitting at the port for two weeks, it’s like watching it crash in slow motion. Because there are things that you can do proactively. And the good news is, more and more conversations we’re engaged in now, customers are asking us, “How can I actively design my supply chain?” So, it’s to know how to head in the right direction, for sure.
Scott Luton (09:13):
I love that. Okay, Lora. Again, Madhav already kind of touched on some of what we’re going to be talking about next, which is some of the barriers. But let’s make sure we really give a fully throated definition of the why. Why are only 9 percent of companies actively designing their supply chains, Lora?
Lora Cecere (09:28):
Let’s start with what is actively designing. So, I see that supply chain needs to be redesigned based upon variability and changes and lead times quarterly or monthly as part of that SNOP process. And most people are hardwired to think about network design as an ad hoc process that’s really around bricks and mortar. They don’t think about inventory as a buffer and the need to reconfigure. They don’t think about what they need to do in the middle mile and the variability of nodes. And it’s a totally different discussion.
Lora Cecere (10:03):
And I often find that the people that use the design tools, which Llamasoft purchased by Coupa, is a great set of tools, are very low in the organization. And the supply chain strategy work is typically happening, and the finance organization on the back of Excel Spreadsheets, and they don’t know each other. In fact, I often will introduce them and talk to them about the use of design tools.
Lora Cecere (10:30):
So, five reasons. The people doing supply chain strategy don’t understand the tools and the need to really model complex nonlinear systems. Two, there’s a general lack of the terminology associated with active supply chains and how to put that into the processes in a systemic way. Three, we’re not tracking variability and holding ourselves accountable for resilience and agility to be able to really embrace variability. Four, we’re not really bringing that into systemic processes and asking ourselves about the design. Do we have a feasible plan? Are we able to execute? And the fifth thing, which is probably the most problematic is, when I do surveys and I ask people about the biggest barriers to drive progress, it’s the understanding of the executive team.
Lora Cecere (11:23):
And I think we’ve been lulled to sleep saying we got that end-to-end supply chain strategy, which is typically about transactional efficiency, order to cash, procure to pay. But most people don’t understand the decision support, how to make decisions, and how to use these technologies. And I find the weaknesses in the executive team.
Scott Luton (11:45):
I love that. All right. So, Madhav, let’s pick it up there. We started to touch on some of the barriers, both of you already have. What else are we leaving out? You know, how do we change this current state?
Dr. Madhav Durbha (11:57):
Sure. I think it all starts with the tone at the top, having the right executive sponsorship. Somebody with the charisma. Lora touched on this, this is like a team sport. And you’re designing your supply chain, you are driving the cross-functional alignment. So, really, that executive sponsorship becomes absolutely critical.
Dr. Madhav Durbha (12:18):
The second thing is in terms of the talent, acquiring the talent and retaining the talent as well. If you don’t show the law to these people who are designing your supply chain, there is going to be turnover in the organization. Acknowledge the value they bring to the table, but part of that also is bringing great analysis into fruition, and championing that. That becomes the role of the executive sponsor.
Dr. Madhav Durbha (12:44):
Really building strong relations with the university programs, and recruiting some of the right talent from some of the good supply chain programs out there and feeding that funnel, if you will, into the organization is absolutely critical.
Dr. Madhav Durbha (13:00):
The other thing I would touch upon is, oftentimes, I hear that objection that my barrier to adoption to design is my data is not ready. Let’s face it, your data will never be ready. It will never be 100 percent perfect. I’ve seen wonders happen when people visualize their supply chain map for the first time, let alone doing any analysis on that, all sorts of ideas start flowing through in that room. So, some of those things. And last but not the least, having the right technology. Lora talked about, you know, Excel Spreadsheets and things like that. Yeah, you can do an analysis, but how do you operationalize those recommendations. That’s where technology becomes an enabler. So, I see some of these as the barrier/bridges to cross.
Scott Luton (13:47):
Right. Opportunities. All right. So, Lora, I want to pose two of those that Madhav just shared to you. And I want to start with, he talked a lot about the involvement, the engagement, the sponsorship of executives, folks at the top, really, leadership throughout the organization. Speak to that a second, how critical is the involvement of our leaders?
Lora Cecere (14:08):
Off the charts. Let me tell you a story. I was working with a beverage company, and this beverage company was in the supply chain [inaudible] doing extremely well. And then, they decided to do product portfolio enlargement, but they didn’t have a feasible plan. Because every time you add a product to the portfolio, you increase the need for manufacturing capacity and cycle stock. And so, they didn’t understand that. And they didn’t understand that they were asking their manufacturing operation to do the impossible.
Lora Cecere (14:38):
So, I brought in a team with Llamasoft experience and using the Llamasoft tools – which is now owned by Coupa – and we started the modeling exercise. And I got to tell you, the CEO stood up in the middle of the meeting and went, “Oh, my gosh. I just didn’t understand. I didn’t understand the complexity of cycle stock and inventory planning.” Because most people are only looking at safety stock. They’re not looking at in transit and cycle stock and they’re not looking at variability. And I believe executives are visual learners and experiential learners, and people will talk the language of we need to do design. But when executives see it, they get up out of their chairs and they go to the screen, and they’re so excited, and they want to do what if analysis, and they want to understand why.
Scott Luton (15:26):
That’s the human element, right? We all want to understand what is just outside of our grasp.
Dr. Madhav Durbha (15:34):
Can I add something, Scott, to what Lora just said?
Scott Luton (15:35):
Dr. Madhav Durbha (15:38):
I think at the heart of it, people have the right intentions. Oftentimes, it’s missing the contusion that if I connect these dots, here is the trade off. So, for example, you are approaching your end of the fiscal year and you want to bleed down your inventory. But guess what? There is a cliff event when the next month day one comes along, so how do you make sure that you’re understanding this visibility. And the tradeoffs across functions becomes very important in driving that change.
Scott Luton (16:07):
Excellent point. All right. I’m going to data next, because Madhav, I love what you said about your data is never going to be ready. So, hold that thought. Lora, I’m coming to you next. I want to share just a couple of quick comments here. And folks I’m trying to organize. Our comments taskbar was not ready for the tidal wave of good stuff that comes in from the folks tuning in. Sophia is with us today, one of our favorites, a true ambassador of global supply chain. Sophia says, “I echo what Lora says about lack of understanding of how these tools for supply chain design can help us improve our decisions. It is mostly shown when starting the model, the depth of detail, and the scope of it is always a challenge.” Well said, Sophia. Well said. Okay.
Scott Luton (16:47):
Lora, Madhav earlier, before the last exchange, talked about how the data is pointed to maybe as an excuse of why we can’t change. The data’s not ready. We’re not gathering the right data or we’ve got too much of it, we’re not sure how to prioritize or whatever the feedback is. What’s your take there?
Lora Cecere (17:08):
It’s sort of like dieting, right? I’m going to wait until tomorrow. It’s like the biggest excuse ever. It’s like get on with it, whatever data you got and just get moving. You know, it is like the largest excuse. And if I look at business results, I think that supply chain leaders, on one hand, need to pat themselves on the back that we’ve done 35 percent more volume. But on the other hand, we have under-delivered on resilience and agility. We talk the talk, but we don’t know how to walk the walk, and that needs to change.
Scott Luton (17:41):
Agreed. It must change. It absolutely must change. Really quick and, Madhav, I’m going to come to you from one last comment around data before we, maybe, point to some of those that are really doing well. And we probably have about 17 questions already submitted, so we may have a jumbo Q&A session here towards the end of today’s session. So, get those questions in.
Scott Luton (18:03):
Let’s see, Memory says – and, Memory, great to have you here today – “Failure to communicate how the benefits of agile supply chains benefit the people who make supply chains happen. It’s a big problem. It needs to become the language and practice of management and leadership.” Excellent point, Memory. One other comment from Yohan. He says, “Hooray for visual supply chain analytics.” I think there was a lot of passion in that response there. Yohan just mentioned analytics. We’re talking data. Madhav, you’ve talked about how folks point to the fact that our data is not ready. Elaborate a little bit more on that. And then, we’re going to switch gears a bit.
Dr. Madhav Durbha (18:42):
Sure. Oftentimes, it points to two things, I don’t have all the sources of data I need and I don’t have the data of the right quality. My advice always is, talk to the use case first. What business problem are you trying to solve? Maybe you don’t need all the data that you’re thinking about. So, that’s one. The second thing is, there are holes in the data, let’s work together. Maybe there are some reasonable assumptions that we can put in place to start with. To Lora’s point, don’t wait until your data is perfect.
Dr. Madhav Durbha (19:13):
So, there are ways around that to be able to interpolate data, they are based to plug the holes in the data, but it has to be use case driven. And then, once you start laying that foundation, organically grow from there. As opposed to, “I got this data in this different spreadsheet and this data in this different database.” Let’s not proliferate that problem. Let’s start laying that data foundation and keep expanding on that as well.
Scott Luton (19:40):
Well said. All right. I’m going to stick one more question here before we point to some of those organizations that are really getting this right and do them well. You mentioned technology earlier, Madhav, and, goodness knows, we’ve got no shortage of technology options in today’s supply chain tech golden age. Lora, I’ll come to you. We’ve had plenty of conversations previously about the effective use and implementation of technology. And those that just go after all the shiny objects, and to Memory’s point perhaps – I think it was Memory – it burns people out. They don’t get it. It’s just implementation after implementation. Nothing gets solved. Nothing gets effectively and sustainably changed. So, speak to this golden age of supply chain technology, and maybe what you’ve seen well-performing organizations, how do they approach it?
Lora Cecere (20:30):
Well, you know, in many organizations, supply chain design technology sort of like that stationary bike in the exercise room that’s not used. In fact, I will go into organizations and I will call Madhav and I say, “Does this company have a license?” And he’ll tell me who, and I’ll introduce them and I’ll educate them on what the capabilities are. Because many people see it as a bricks and mortar exercise that they’re only going to do network design when they need a new warehouse or they need a new manufacturing site. They don’t think about it in terms of flow and variability.
Lora Cecere (21:04):
And I really challenge people, because in the last decade, three things have happened, Scott. We’ve invested in ERP systems, which are really good on transactions, order to pay, procure to pay, order to cash, but we’ve not really cracked the nut in decision support. Secondly, alignment has grown. There are bigger issues between finance and operations and operations and sales. And that’s because we’ve invested in functional excellence. And third, people aren’t clear on supply chain excellence. They’ll say they want supply chain excellence but, really, what most people are advocating is the lowest cost efficient supply chain. And they don’t realize they have multiple supply chains, and that some can be efficient, but others need to be agile and resilient. And it requires a different set of techniques.
Scott Luton (21:53):
I love that. And all the definitions of supply chain excellence kind of you alluded to can be very different. And even in one single organization, does the whole team know what that means? So, Madhav, whether you want to piggyback on something Lora shared there, just one final thought around technology. We’re going to talk about, you know, some of the folks are getting it right, but how would you advise a listener when it comes to not just selecting, but successfully implementing the right technology these days?
Dr. Madhav Durbha (22:22):
Yes. Start small and think big, that’s what I would suggest, is, have an end goal in mind. But the technology of today can be consumed in bite sizes. That’s the big difference from the days of the ERP systems. These no longer don’t need to be like a long drawn out multi-year deployments. You could have a multi-year strategy, that is absolutely fine. But break it down into bite sizes and start giving that to the organization. So, frankly, in a matter of 12 weeks or so, 8 to 12 weeks, we had seen design projects come to fruition and then organically expand from there —
Scott Luton (23:06):
I love that. Let’s put aside that old example about how to eat an elephant. Let’s use how do you eat a box of French fries, one French fry at a time, to your point, Madhav. All right. So, a really quick example, Kayvon says, “Executives are visual learners.” I think one of you mentioned that, Lora and Madhav. Great point. Kayvon says, “All decision support systems should provide a tool for visualizing the results and showing how the decisions suggested can impact the outcomes.” Well said, Kayvon. And Sandra – it’s great to have you here, Sandra – she says, “Exactly. Get out of that cost reduction mindset, for the love of God.” Great to see you, Sandra. Okay.
Scott Luton (23:48):
So, let’s move then. We’re almost right on time, Lora and Madhav. How about that? Let’s talk about who’s doing it well. Both of you have already shared in, roughly, 20 minutes time a ton of analysis and observations around the massive challenges we have and some of the solutions out there to break through. But who would you point to as who’s doing this really well? Lora, we’ll stick with you, who’s out there with a cape on?
Lora Cecere (24:13):
Well, my candidates are Schneider Electric and Ikea. And both have leadership that is clearer on the definition of supply chain excellence. And they’ve built capabilities to make these tools to do what if simulation and connect them to systemic processes. Let’s say, and they’re all perfect, but those are my candidates.
Scott Luton (24:37):
Wonderful. Those are two great candidates that we probably can all relate to in a variety of ways. Including some of that furniture that Amanda is much more skilled and adept at. She takes all the tools away from me, Lora and Madhav, occasionally.
Lora Cecere (24:51):
Probably rightful that he says that. Amanda rules your place.
Scott Luton (24:56):
That’s right. Okay. And on that note, big thanks to Amanda and Jada, and Alice, and so many others behind the scenes. Trisha and Gina, you name it, that are helping to make the production happen today. All right. So, Madhav, same question, who’s doing this well? Who’s wearing the cape out there these days?
Dr. Madhav Durbha (25:09):
I think Lora covered two of my favorites already, for sure. You know, especially when you look at Ikea, they have design and planning under one umbrella. It is very important to make sure, because we talked earlier about the assumptions and policies that guide planning, oftentimes, come from design. Maybe if I were to pick a couple, my favorites would be beyond what Lora mentioned. I would pick CHEP as an example, they’re a Brambles Company.
Scott Luton (25:42):
The big pallet company.
Dr. Madhav Durbha (25:44):
The pallet company, right. So, they are designing circular supply chains and making the world sustainable. Saint-Gobain is another one that comes to my mind. What is interesting about them is, they are designing their networks, their transportation, logistics networks, exploring internal synergies between multiple business units. And if I’m delivering to the same customer, can the products go in the same truck. But they’re also looking externally as well. Because design does not have to be confined to the four walls of your company. They’re also looking at external companies like Heineken, for example, and [inaudible] partner together in jointly shipping product into the market. So, you know, those are some examples that come to my mind. You get cost savings on lock, but you also make the world a better place and more sustainable.
Scott Luton (26:37):
I love that. Okay. So, as we start to make progress towards Q&A here today, let’s look future, let’s look ahead. Let’s look at what’s next. Let’s put our shades on because the future is bright, I believe, as we continue to solve some of these persistent challenges that we’ve all alluded to, at least, a few of here on today’s call. So, Lora, what does the future look like for supply chain leaders?
Lora Cecere (27:02):
I think we have democratization of data and we have the digital twin on all their desks. And they can do their own what if analysis. And we’ve got – what I call – the market-driven knowledge graph, which allows us to see balanced scorecards and the impact of decisions and if we have a feasible plan. Why did we ever define supply chain planning? So, only 3 percent of the back office organization actually gets that data. And they’re low level people. They turn over a lot. So, I think we have a rebirth of decision support, a redefinition, and it’s ubiquitous and it’s democratized.
Scott Luton (27:41):
I love that. Democratization, that is such a wonderful trend. It’s been rippling out across global business for quite some time. Madhav, same question to you, what does the future look like for supply chain leaders?
Dr. Madhav Durbha (27:53):
Hopefully, very bright. But Lora hit the nail on the head. So, almost give this analogy of a flight simulator. So, before I make any big needle moving decision from an executive standpoint, do I have the simulation cockpit in which I can test out different ideas and then put them to practice in the real world? And being able to do so at speed and scale becomes a very critical core capability. Let’s face it, supply chains are undergoing massive shifts. If you take automotive industry, 3 percent of the costs today are electric. Whereas, ten years from now, it could be one third of the cost. Then, the world is changing so rapidly, being able to evolve as quickly with the speed of change is also absolutely critical. So, hopefully, they will have these systems at their disposal that will flex as their needs change.
Scott Luton (28:47):
I love that. And we all need to flex more these days, right? All the more reason to follow y’all’s example and become physically fit. Lora and Madhav in the pre-show conversation was making me feel bad for my lack of progress. But, hey, challenge duly excepted. So, one final question, and we’re going to get into Q&A. And, folks, we’re going to have quite a bit of time to work through some Q&A here today. And, of course, Lora and Madoff, as other things come to mind based on these critical area of resiliency and agility, especially when it comes to active supply chain design, we’ve got time for more comments from you both. Lora, starting with you, out of what we’ve talked about in the first 30 minutes or so of today’s webinar, what is one key takeaway that folks that are tuned in got to make sure that they leave this conversation with?
Lora Cecere (29:36):
I think the first discussion we had about active design, I think when people hear network design, it’s sort of like old stuff. Like, they’ve got these preconceived ideas that it’s one-off, it’s ad hoc, it’s done by a team, it’s part of the supply chain, and it’s usually [inaudible], we’re exploring bricks and mortar. I think this concept of an active cross-functional source make deliver together looking at options and what if simulation that lays above the tactical horizon of planning is something that’s not well understood. And so, I want people to think hard about active design, how it ties to product portfolio management, how it ties to SNOP, how it ties to supplier development and strategic procurement, how it ties to new product launch. And really make it part of the core fabric of supply chains. And the second thing is, be really clear on what is supply chain excellence, and what is an objective function, and what are the tradeoffs.
Scott Luton (30:41):
I love that. Two big things. And you make a great point, Lora, network designs, a lot of folks may go straight into transportation when they hear that phrase. Making sure trucks are making those right-hand turns back in my distribution days.
Lora Cecere (30:54):
You got it. Right. Right-hand turns.
Scott Luton (30:56):
It’s bigger than that, to your point. And I love how both of y’all have really embraced that supply chain design phrasiology. Madhav, the same thing for you, so Lora gave us a couple because today is Bonus Tuesday – I love that. What’s one thing, one key takeaway, folks that are tuned in here have got to leave this conversation with?
Dr. Madhav Durbha (31:16):
Maybe I’m doubling down on what Lora already said, but the move from episodic to continuous design paradigm. Match the clock speed of design with your SNOP processes. Otherwise, you’re working in a highly constrained environment where the cards are already dealt and you’re trying to play the best hand you can. Design allows you a lot more flexibility and optionality.
Scott Luton (31:39):
Well said. And that’s okay. Doubling down is perfectly fine in conversations like this. Folks, hopefully, you all have taken at least a page of notes, like I have here today. Usually, it’s closer to 17 pages when we have Lora and Madhav with us. All right.
Scott Luton (31:56):
So, folks, we’re going to move into Q&A. We’ve kind of had a 30 minute session with a nice primer, but we’re going to spend the next 20 or so minutes posing your questions to Lora and Madhav. So, this is your opportunity. We’re not going to be able to get to all the questions that are submitted today. However, we’re going to pass your questions over to our friends, Lora and Madhav. And who knows? Maybe you’ll have a chance to share a cup of coffee and a phone call after today’s session.
Scott Luton (32:22):
I want to start with this question – and, Madhav, I’ll start with you here. This is from Nanda, “You stressed the need for Actively -” big A, capital A “- Actively designing. Many times I have experienced a lack of dynamic tools to design a supply chain, which takes into account external inputs dynamically. What would your advice be?”
Dr. Madhav Durbha (32:43):
So, first of all, Nanda is the one who is joining from India. Is that right?
Scott Luton (32:48):
Dr. Madhav Durbha (32:49):
Okay. Well, hopefully, we’re keeping you up still, so that’s great. So, start with the data that you have. Sometimes it is internal data or internal data feeds, that’s where you would start. Bringing in external data signals, increasingly where I’m seeing this design space evolving towards is more of a closed loop process. It’s not that you just design something and then you throw it over the wall. Instead, learn from the data that is emerging. Once you make that decision and execute, learn from the data and being able to bridge that back and close the loop. The technology is already starting to get there. So, Nanda, my advice to you would be, take a hard look at where you are at right now in terms of the technological capabilities you have. But, also, pay attention to where the world is evolving towards and see how you can bridge that.
Scott Luton (33:42):
I love that. Very nicely said, Madhav. Great question, Nanda. Lora, would you add anything to that?
Lora Cecere (33:48):
Yeah. I think, let’s [inaudible] structurally encased in yesterday’s solutions. So, if we look at, you know, what’s happening in in-memory models, what’s happening in cloud-based solutions, the capabilities have greatly increased. And people need to explore the envelope of, you know, simulation of what if optimization and the [inaudible] sequel.
Scott Luton (34:11):
I love that. So, on Twitter – and this is going to be a two-part. I’m going to share, perhaps, a question that they’re not looking for an answer on. A rhetorical question, thank you very much. And then, I’m going to ask y’all both a question of Christine that is looking for an answer. So, our dear friend, Tom Crag on Twitter says, “Any thoughts on how much of an ERP system is utilized, 10 percent, 25 percent?” And then, from Tom’s rhetorical question to Christine’s question, “How do we get organizations to recognize that just investing in ERP does not solve these complex supply chain problems?” And I want to start with you, Madhav, what would your response to Christine’s question be?
Dr. Madhav Durbha (34:51):
So, I think first of all, on the ERP question, if I recollect, Lora has done some research already in terms of what percentage of companies actually use that. I remember that, Lora. In terms of Christine’s question about how do you convince a leader who thinks that ERP is all I need, one thing to keep in mind is the world is turning more outside in at this point in time. What’s happening beyond the four walls of your company is going to impact you more than what’s happening within the four walls of your company. In an ERP world, you’re locked into the data within the four walls of your company. While that can be a starting point, that cannot be the end point that you end up. So, I think the key is to have them acknowledge that what is happening around in the world, and that data is not sitting in your ERP systems. You have to tap into those external sources of data. So, I may steal one of Lora’s phrases, the planning is going to turn outside in and that’s what the leadership needs to be prepared for.
Scott Luton (35:55):
You sound just like her, Madhav. If we’ve heard it once, we’ve heard it a thousand times. There’s a lot of truth to that, outside in. So, Lora, how would you respond to Christine’s question about, “Oh, if we just invest in ERP, we live in Utopia.”
Lora Cecere (36:10):
I have a deep sigh. I’ve been an industry analyst for two decades, and it really gets down to follow the money. The systems that the consultants are making the most money off of are ERP. The executives are listening to the high priced consultants. Most of the high priced consultants really don’t know much about supply chain. And so, we’re looking at transactional systems. We’re not looking at how do we embrace the world of variability. And I’m hoping that when every CFO has to go to the microphone and tell investors that they failed, they’re reflecting on the fact that they’ve only invested in ERP and they really do not know supply chain. And I’m hoping that it opens up a new world for supply chains and logistics leaders to come to the table with simulation and what if optimization from tools, like Madhav, and to show them the stupidity of the investments of the last decade. And that’s my hub.
Scott Luton (37:14):
Well said. So, they got an answer. There’s a reckoning is the picture in my mind as you shared that, Lora. A big reckoning. And investing in ERP does not prove that you know how global supply chain works. All right.
Scott Luton (37:26):
Different direction here with this next question. And we’ve got a ton of great questions submitted. We’ll try to get to as many as we can as time allows, Inga says – and, Lora, I’m going to stick with you in this question here – “What is the biggest opportunity you see in SNOP? What is your advice on the topic?”
Lora Cecere (37:43):
The biggest opportunity is to look at market data, and to decouple the SNOP process from the budget, and to bring in network design tools. In the last decade we have coupled SNOP directly to the budget, which is really a handicap with great variability and really bringing those network design tools.
Scott Luton (38:07):
Well said. And, Madhav, the same question to you, what biggest opportunity do you see in SNOP?
Dr. Madhav Durbha (38:13):
So, it’s really testing out those assumptions and the policies and rules that guide your SNOP processes. Peel the onion a layer or two and start fulfilling those underlying assumptions. Oftentimes, I get frustrated when SNOP conversations are all about striking the demand supply balancing, and assuming that everything else is fixed. So, it just really restricts organizations. So, I think a big opportunity I see is being able to relax those hard data assumptions around SNOP.
Scott Luton (38:44):
Well said. Well said. A couple of quick comments before I get to our next question here. Corey says, “Very well said, guys, on ERP systems. It is within the four walls focused only, not your extended supply chain.” Good stuff there, Corey. Randall says, “Most investors do not know to ask a CEO or CFO about these issues.” Gerald says, “I echo the statement by Lora about separating the budget from the SNOP process.” Good stuff there. Okay.
Scott Luton (39:14):
This next question is going to take me a minute to read through it. So, a little bit of question, a little bit of perspective around it. Lora, you had a name for these questions last time we were together, but it’s kind of multi-point. So, y’all bear with me, okay?
Lora Cecere (39:28):
It’s a triple decker sandwich, right?
Scott Luton (39:32):
That’s right. Submarine sandwich. That’s right.
Lora Cecere (39:34):
Like, a club sandwich, you know.
Scott Luton (39:37):
Douglas says, “Hey, Madhav and Lora, great information. Do you see these disruptions that have upset our finely tuned supply chains going forward? Or do you expect these norm busting variations to continue going forward? It seems we’ve been lulled into passivity with a level of seeming stability over the past ten years pre-COVID. How do we convince our leadership executives that it’s probably not going to go back to predictable stability?” What a nice question there. Madhav, we’ll start with you. And I’ll circle back to Lora.
Dr. Madhav Durbha (40:13):
Just look at the recent history. In fact, I have a slide like that, that shows all the disruptions and the frequency and the magnitude at which these disruptions are most striking supply chains. Those windows are starting to shrink. Just this year alone, we had Texas winter storms that caused global plastic shortage. We had a ship getting stuck on Suez Canal. We have port congestion. History is not on our side if we believe that we are going to get into a new steady state where the world is going to be very rosy. So, let’s better be prepared.
Scott Luton (40:53):
Well said, Madhav. Lora?
Lora Cecere (40:54):
I think every time a company fails because of supply chain, it is a great discussion for us to have as a case study about the fact that we assumed five things in the supply chain that are no longer applicable. We assumed that transportation would always be there, we just had to negotiate price. Look at all the RFPs, look at the pushing back of receivables against those carriers, we need to be accountable. We’ve assumed that 3 percent of people can plan an organization, and that we can invest in transactional systems, and the people don’t have to own the plan. People need to own the plan. We’ve assumed that if we just focus on safety stock. We got to inventory manage. No. We’ve got to focus on cycle stock, and in transit stock, and obsolescence, and really manage inventory. It’s our most important buffer and it’s our biggest source of waste.
Lora Cecere (41:54):
Fourth, we’ve only focused on volume. With inflation happening, the price inflation, the need for bi-directional orchestration will increase. And our systems aren’t able to do that absent network design. And fifth, we’ve assumed that the efficient supply chain can be efficient with these conditions. And it can not be. And so, as we think about the inefficient supply chain with radical times and uncertain conversion costs and the inability of suppliers to deliver, we’ve got to rethink our basics.
Lora Cecere (42:29):
And I think it’s a wonderful opportunity every time a company fails. Apple, look at their returns. Why? It’s the investment in Foxconn and it’s the fact that they’re not good at demand management. They’re not using market data. Every day one of those case studies is going to hit the Wall Street Journal. And it’s a great learning for us in-vitro to test basic assumptions, because the biggest issue we have is right here, our ability to unlearn what we think are great practices.
Scott Luton (43:00):
Well said. Well said. Madhav, you’re nodding your head as well. I think both of y’all are deacons in the church of challenging assumptions these days.
Dr. Madhav Durbha (43:10):
That’s right. That’s right.
Lora Cecere (43:12):
Scott Luton (43:14):
Okay. Wonderful. All right. Hey, really quick, before we move forward – and I got about 12:47. We’ve got about ten more minutes with Lora and Madhav – we’ve got a few more questions submitted – well, more than a few. Inventory is full with questions. But Madhav said a second ago that he had some slides, you know, both Lora and Madhav are great follows and connections across social media, make sure you connect or follow Lora and Madhav on LinkedIn, in particular. And, folks, I also want to mention just now, before we wait to the end, if you want to learn more about how continuous supply chain design can reduce risk, improve resilience, and turn supply chain challenges into a competitive advantage – how beautiful would that be? – you can download Coupa’s ebook, Continuous Design Outsmarts Disruption: An Imperative For Supply Chain Resiliency. And you can download that right here on the go to webinar toolbar. You can click the download button and you should have that. If for some reason Murphy’s Law intervenes, just reach out to us. We’ll make sure you get a copy.
Scott Luton (44:13):
Okay. Continuing right along. This is a great question – and, you know, in the pre-show, Lora and Madhav, as we got our teams together, we had about 20 things we want to work through, and they were 20 of the best questions. But we’re like, “Hey, we got an hour. Let’s kind of streamline it down to here.” Well, this touches on talent, which is one of those questions that we were going to share initially. This comes from Scott, and I’m going to post this to Madhav first, should manufacturing organizations target having supply chain design talent with their differentiated quantitative skills and specialized tool sets as part of the organization? Or should they rely on outside help from consultants and contractors for design and then leverage analytics to monitor supply chain performance? Wow, that is quite a question. Madhav, your take.
Dr. Madhav Durbha (45:04):
Okay. So, I’ll tell you, based on what I have seen work [inaudible]. A central of excellence driven approach. However you staff [inaudible], it could be external consultants coming in and helping you out, your own internal staff, and whatnot. But really establishing that analytics center of excellence, and making sure that the center of excellence is very closely tied to your planning an execution of arms of the business to make sure that any recommendations that are made are getting implemented is absolutely critical. So, it’s not one of the other. But, to me, the linchpin is going to be having that focused center of excellence is what drives it. Staffing of that, it depends. It could be internal. You could externally source them. But you can’t outsource your problems away to other is the crux of it.
Scott Luton (46:02):
So, Lora, same question, when it comes to talent, what would your advice be?
Lora Cecere (46:08):
Build it in-house and train your executives to do their own supply chain side. But the tools and the capabilities we have today, you know, we should be really designing actively at the executive level and do it yourself.
Scott Luton (46:26):
Yeah. I’m with you. All right. This first question came from a comment you made on the frontend of the conversation, going back a ways, and it’s about planning, which is one of our favorite topics around here. Before I get to the question, Lora, one of the best parts of your conference back in September was you had a super planner. Someone that does really well in that role, speak and give best practices. And, Madhav, you were there as well. That was a stroke of brilliance. And I think one of the best things we heard from her, all three of us did, was, we got to recognize our planners. We got to love them. We got to hug them. And thank them for what they do for the whole organization. And, Lora, you want to comment on that really quick?
Lora Cecere (47:08):
So, the best red block post in my whole Supply Chain Shaman career is, have you given your demand planner some love today? And they don’t feel satisfied in the job. They’re beat up. And most people feel that the tools that they have don’t work well because we’ve hardwired them into the back office and they can’t do what if simulation and they can’t really look at variability. We need to change that. And, you know, it was really eye opening for me when I started being open to the fact that how we’ve designed demand planning doesn’t work for demand planners. We need to do better.
Scott Luton (47:50):
Agreed. We must do better. And, Madhav, your quick comments before I pose this question from Blaine.
Dr. Madhav Durbha (47:56):
So, in terms of showing love to your planners, I would say the same thing about people who model and design their supply chains. Oftentimes, organizations fail to provide the right career path for this kind of talent. Especially when you’re building your supply chain and designing your supply chain, you have that end-to-end perspective, very unique perspective that you can bring to bear. And oftentimes, I see this kind of talent being grossly underserved. And what happens? That’s where you have retention issues, internal. So, really investing in their career growth, investing in their ongoing education, and providing that impetus would go a long way.
Scott Luton (48:38):
I love that. And, hey, we got to give our planners and those supply chain designers, you just mentioned, Madhav, the right tools and support. The right ones. Not the latest and the shiniest, but those that really work and move the organization ahead, in addition to the recognition.
Scott Luton (48:53):
Okay. Blaine asks Lora then, “The master supply chain planning database is intriguing. Can you elaborate?”
Lora Cecere (49:01):
Well, I think people should take the signals of loading, unloading, arrival, and they should record it by lane. And they should be looking at, not only what it is, but the variability. And then, they need to feed that into their batch systems for planning. And they need to look at shifts and conversion rate as they run manufacturing, and the impact of product proliferation, and make these discussions data-driven. We’re not doing that. We run our planning processes with the same old assumptions that when they were installed and they’re not really looking at variability and current factors.
Scott Luton (49:43):
Madhav, any comments?
Dr. Madhav Durbha (49:45):
Sure. I’ll give a example. Recently with the COVID impact and all that, some of the work we had done in the area of demand planning, for example, or demand modeling, relying on three year historical indicators is not giving the right information for CPG companies. However, when you bring in things like Google mobility indices, how much are people moving about? Are they stuck at home? Are they going to entertainment establishments? And how are those patterns changing provides you a whole new set of insights. That’s where this marrying external data with internal data becomes absolutely critical. And I gave it, Lora, that supply chain master planning database needs to incorporate these not so traditional data streams into that process.
Scott Luton (50:32):
Well said. Okay. Go ahead, Lora.
Lora Cecere (50:34):
And people shouldn’t just think about master data is transactional data. They need to think about it as the data that is used ubiquitously across people.
Scott Luton (50:44):
Christine says, “Yes. Yes. Yes. Dynamic data versus static master data, that is not updated and does not reflect what is happening today in your supply chains.” I love that, Christine. One final question from Wallace here today. And I hate to say that because I’m really enjoying these conversations and all the things we’re getting from the cheap seats or the sky boxes, depending on how you view the comment section. This comes from Wallace – and, Madhav, I’m going to pose this to you first – “In supply chain design, is there enough buy-in of a deductive process in building our master schedules? Or do you start with a fresh set of ideas and strategic plans that are drawn from our preconceived needs before our ideas are validated and documented?” Madhav, your thoughts.
Dr. Madhav Durbha (51:32):
If I understand the question correctly, you know, do we look back into the history and use that as the basis for designing your supply chain? Or do you want to look into the future? Maybe that’s how I’m kind of interpreting that. I would look into the future. I would look into the future and design a supply chain for future, as opposed to, this is how my supply chain ran and this is what has worked for me. So, that’s how I think about that.
Dr. Madhav Durbha (52:02):
Maybe I’m not understanding the question as well, but that’s my interpretation based on what I sense there.
Scott Luton (52:08):
Yeah. And, Wallace, that’s a great question. Wallace says, “Looking into the future,” as a follow-up. So, I think we’re tracking there. You got to start with that white open canvas, like Lora and Madhav, y’all both did back in September with the visual illustrations, which we really loved. So, Lora, your take on that question from Wallace.
Lora Cecere (52:29):
I think that you do need to have the design planners working in concert and archiving their plans. I’m amazed how a few companies archived their plans. When I first started studying active network design, I was doing some work with HP. And they had a group of master planners, and they would archive their plans, and they would compete, and they would share plans across the world. And then, when they started, they would start with the white sheet of paper. But they could go back to historic plans and they could tweak it and they could learn from it. Three things I see people aren’t doing, (1), network design and doing it actively; (2) even saving plans; and (3) going back and questioning how good was that plan.
Scott Luton (53:14):
Well said. And we got to leave it there as much as we hate to do so. But, hey, be sure to check out, to connect, follow Lora and Madhav across social media. Lora Cecere, again, big thanks to you. The Founder of Supply Chain Insights. And Dr. Madhav Durbha, Vice-President of Supply Chain Strategy at Coupa Software, big thanks to you as well.
Dr. Madhav Durbha (53:37):
Thanks, Scott. And thanks, Lora. I’ve always enjoyed talking.
Scott Luton (53:41):
And thanks to everybody behind the scenes. Most importantly, thanks to everybody that showed up here today. Don’t forget, you can check out the ebook, Continuous Design Outsmarts Disruption: An Imperative For Supply Chain Resiliency, in the download section of go to webinar. Be sure to find more conversations like this one at supplychainnow.com. On behalf of our entire team here, Scott Luton signing off for now. Hey, challenging you to do good, give forward, be the change that’s needed. And on that note, we’ll see you next time right back here at Supply Chain Now. Thanks everybody.
Thanks for being a part of our Supply Chain Now community. Check out all of our programming at supplychainnow.com, and make sure you subscribe to Supply Chain Now anywhere you listen to podcasts. And follow us on Facebook, LinkedIn, Twitter, and Instagram. See you next time on Supply Chain Now.
Dr. Madhav Durbha is the Vice President of Supply Chain Strategy Coupa Software, where his team helps customers and prospects solve various supply chain challenges. Prior to Coupa, Dr. Durbha held positions at LLamasoft, Kinaxis, JDA Software and i2 Technologies, Inc. With more than 20 years in the supply chain industry, Dr. Durbha has broad experience in strategy & process consulting, supply chain software, program management, software application development & deployment, machine learning and data science. He received his Ph.D. in chemical engineering from the University of Florida and his bachelor’s degree in chemical engineering from the Indian Institute of Technology at Madras. Connect with Dr. Madhav on LinkedIn.
Lora Cecere, Founder and CEO of Supply Chain Insights, is widely recognized as a global supply chain thought leader and recently received the 2020 Women in Supply Chain Influencer Award. Today, Lora has nearly 320,000 Linkedin Followers and is known for her high-value point of view and research geared at helping early adopters seeking first mover advantages through innovative supply chain strategies and market execution.
Host, Logistics with Purpose
Adrian Purtill serves as Business Development Manager at Vector Global Logistics, where he consults with importers and exporters in various industries to match their specific shipping requirements with the most effective supply chain solutions. Vector Global Logistics is an asset-free, multi-modal logistics company that provides exceptional sea freight, air freight, truck, rail, general logistic services and consulting for our clients. Our highly trained and professional team is committed to providing creative and effective solutions, always exceeding our customer’s expectations and fostering long-term relationships. With more than 20+ years of experience in both strategy consulting and logistics, Vector Global Logistics is your best choice to proactively minimize costs while having an exceptional service level.
Joshua is a student from Institute of Technology and Higher Education of Monterrey Campus Guadalajara in Communication and Digital Media. His experience ranges from Plug and Play México, DearDoc, and Nissan México creating unique social media marketing campaigns and graphics design. Joshua helps to amplify the voice of supply chain here at Supply Chain Now by assisting in graphic design, content creation, asset logistics, and more. In his free time he likes to read and write short stories as well as watch movies and television series.
Director of Communications and Executive Producer
Donna Krache is a former CNN executive producer who has won several awards in journalism and communication, including three Peabodys. She has 30 years’ experience in broadcast and digital journalism. She led the first production team at CNN to convert its show to a digital platform. She has authored many articles for CNN and other media outlets. She taught digital journalism at Georgia State University and Arizona State University. Krache holds a bachelor’s degree in government from the College of William and Mary and a master’s degree in curriculum and instruction from the University of New Orleans. She is a serious sports fan who loves the Braves. She is president of the Dave Krache Foundation. Named in honor of her late husband, this non-profit pays fees for kids who want to play sports but whose parents are facing economic challenges.
Vicki has a long history of rising to challenges and keeping things up and running. First, she supported her family’s multi-million dollar business as controller for 12 years, beginning at the age of 17. Then, she worked as an office manager and controller for a wholesale food broker. But her biggest feat? Serving as the chief executive officer of her household, while her entrepreneur husband travelled the world extensively. She fed, nurtured, chaperoned, and chauffeured three daughters all while running a newsletter publishing business and remaining active in her community as a Stephen’s Minister, Sunday school teacher, school volunteer, licensed realtor and POA Board president (a title she holds to this day). A force to be reckoned with in the office, you might think twice before you meet Vicki on the tennis court! When she’s not keeping the books balanced at Supply Chain Now or playing tennis matches, you can find Vicki spending time with her husband Greg, her 4 fur babies, gardening, cleaning (yes, she loves to clean!) and learning new things.
Founder, CEO, & Host
As the founder and CEO of Supply Chain Now, you might say Scott is the voice of supply chain – but he’s too much of a team player to ever claim such a title. One thing’s for sure: he’s a tried and true supply chain expert. With over 15 years of experience in the end-to-end supply chain, Scott’s insights have appeared in major publications including The Wall Street Journal, USA Today, and CNN. He has also been named a top industry influencer by Thinkers360, ISCEA and more.
From 2009-2011, Scott was president of APICS Atlanta, and he continues to lead initiatives that support both the local business community and global industry. A United States Air Force Veteran, Scott has also regularly led efforts to give back to his fellow veteran community since his departure from active duty in 2002.
Host, Logistics with Purpose
Allison Krache Giddens has been with Win-Tech, a veteran-owned small business and aerospace precision machine shop, for 15 years, recently buying the company from her mentor and Win-Tech’s Founder, Dennis Winslow. She and her business partner, John Hudson now serve as Co-Presidents, leading the 33-year old company through the pandemic.
She holds undergraduate degrees in psychology and criminal justice from the University of Georgia, a Masters in Conflict Management from Kennesaw State University, a Masters in Manufacturing from Georgia Institute of Technology, and a Certificate of Finance from the University of Georgia. She also holds certificates in Google Analytics, event planning, and Cybersecurity Risk Management from Harvard online. Allison founded the Georgia Chapter of Women in Manufacturing and currently serves as Treasurer. She serves on the Chattahoochee Technical College Foundation Board as its Secretary, the liveSAFE Resources Board of Directors as Resource Development Co-Chair, and on the Leadership Cobb Alumni Association Board as Membership Chair and is also a member of Cobb Executive Women. She is on the Board for the Cobb Chamber of Commerce’s Northwest Area Councils. Allison runs The Dave Krache Foundation, a non-profit that helps pay sports fees for local kids in need.
Principal, Supply Chain Now
Host of Supply Chain Now and TECHquila Sunrise
When rapid-growth technology companies, venture capital and private equity firms are looking for advisory, they call Greg – a founder, board director, advisor and catalyst of disruptive B2B technology and supply chain. An insightful visionary, Greg guides founders, investors and leadership teams in creating breakthroughs to gain market exposure and momentum – increasing overall company esteem and valuation.
Greg is a founder himself, creating Blue Ridge Solutions, a Gartner Magic Quadrant Leader in cloud-native supply chain applications, and bringing to market Curo, a field service management solution. He has also held leadership roles with Servigistics (PTC) and E3 Corporation (JDA/Blue Yonder). As a principal and host at Supply Chain Now, Greg helps guide the company’s strategic direction, hosts industry leader discussions, community livestreams, and all in addition to executive producing and hosting his original YouTube channel and podcast, TEChquila Sunrise.
Principal, Supply Chain Now
Host of Supply Chain is Boring
Talk about world-class: Chris is one of the few professionals in the world to hold CPIM-F, CLTD-F and CSCP-F designations from ASCM/APICS. He’s also the APICS coach – and our resident Supply Chain Doctor. When he’s not hosting programs with Supply Chain Now, he’s sharing supply chain knowledge on the APICS Coach Youtube channel or serving as a professional education instructor for the Georgia Tech Supply Chain & Logistic Institute’s Supply Chain Management (SCM) program and University of Tennessee-Chattanooga Center for Professional Education courses.
Chris earned a BS in Industrial Engineering from Bradley University, an MBA with emphasis in Industrial Psychology from the University of West Florida, and is a Doctoral in Supply Chain Management candidate.
Director of Sales
Tyler Ward serves as Supply Chain Now's Director of Sales. Born and raised in Mid-Atlantic, Tyler is a proud graduate of Shippensburg University where he earned his degree in Communications. After college, he made his way to the beautiful state of Oregon, where he now lives with his wife and daughter.
With over a decade of experience in sales, Tyler has a proven track record of exceeding targets and leading high-performing teams. He credits his success to his ability to communicate effectively with customers and team members alike, as well as his strategic thinking and problem-solving skills.
When he's not closing deals, you can find Tyler on the links or cheering on his favorite football and basketball teams. He also enjoys spending time with his family, playing pick-up basketball, and traveling back to Ocean City, Maryland, his favorite place!
Host of Digital Transformers
Kevin L. Jackson is a globally recognized Thought Leader, Industry Influencer and Founder/Author of the award winning “Cloud Musings” blog. He has also been recognized as a “Top 5G Influencer” (Onalytica 2019, Radar 2020), a “Top 50 Global Digital Transformation Thought Leader” (Thinkers 360 2019) and provides strategic consulting and integrated social media services to AT&T, Intel, Broadcom, Ericsson and other leading companies. Mr. Jackson’s commercial experience includes Vice President J.P. Morgan Chase, Worldwide Sales Executive for IBM and SAIC (Engility) Director Cloud Solutions. He has served on teams that have supported digital transformation projects for the North Atlantic Treaty Organization (NATO) and the US Intelligence Community. Kevin’s formal education includes a MS Computer Engineering from Naval Postgraduate School; MA National Security & Strategic Studies from Naval War College; and a BS Aerospace Engineering from the United States Naval Academy. Internationally recognizable firms that have sponsored articles authored by him include Cisco, Microsoft, Citrix and IBM. Books include “Click to Transform” (Leaders Press, 2020), “Architecting Cloud Computing Solutions” (Packt, 2018), and “Practical Cloud Security: A Cross Industry View” (Taylor & Francis, 2016). He also delivers online training through Tulane University, O’Reilly Media, LinkedIn Learning, and Pluralsight. Mr. Jackson retired from the U.S. Navy in 1994, earning specialties in Space Systems Engineering, Carrier Onboard Delivery Logistics and carrier-based Airborne Early Warning and Control. While active, he also served with the National Reconnaissance Office, Operational Support Office, providing tactical support to Navy and Marine Corps forces worldwide.
Host of Logistics with Purpose and Supply Chain Now en Español
Enrique serves as Managing Director at Vector Global Logistics and believes we all have a personal responsibility to change the world. He is hard working, relationship minded and pro-active. Enrique trusts that the key to logistics is having a good and responsible team that truly partners with the clients and does whatever is necessary to see them succeed. He is a proud sponsor of Vector’s unique results-based work environment and before venturing into logistics he worked for the Boston Consulting Group (BCG). During his time at BCG, he worked in different industries such as Telecommunications, Energy, Industrial Goods, Building Materials, and Private Banking. His main focus was always on the operations, sales, and supply chain processes, with case focus on, logistics, growth strategy, and cost reduction. Prior to joining BCG, Enrique worked for Grupo Vitro, a Mexican glass manufacturer, for five years holding different positions from sales and logistics manager to supply chain project leader in charge of five warehouses in Colombia.
He has an MBA from The Wharton School of Business and a BS, in Mechanical Engineer from the Technologico de Monterrey in Mexico. Enrique’s passions are soccer and the ocean, and he also enjoys traveling, getting to know new people, and spending time with his wife and two kids, Emma and Enrique.
Host of Dial P for Procurement
Kelly is the Owner and Managing Director of Buyers Meeting Point and MyPurchasingCenter. She has been in procurement since 2003, starting as a practitioner and then as the Associate Director of Consulting at Emptoris. She has covered procurement news, events, publications, solutions, trends, and relevant economics at Buyers Meeting Point since 2009. Kelly is also the General Manager at Art of Procurement and Business Survey Chair for the ISM-New York Report on Business. Kelly has her MBA from Babson College as well as an MS in Library and Information Science from Simmons College and she has co-authored three books: ‘Supply Market Intelligence for Procurement Professionals’, ‘Procurement at a Crossroads’, and ‘Finance Unleashed’.
Host, Veteran Voices
Mary Kate Soliva is a veteran of the US Army and cofounder of the Guam Human Rights Initiative. She is currently in the Doctor of Criminal Justice program at Saint Leo University. She is passionate about combating human trafficking and has spent the last decade conducting training for military personnel and the local community.
Jeff Miller is the host of Supply Chain Now’s Supply Chain is the Business. Jeff is a digital business transformation and supply chain advisor with deep expertise in Industry 4.0, ERP, PLM, SCM, IoT, AR and related technologies. Through more than 25 years of industry and consulting experience, he has worked with many of the world’s leading product and service companies to achieve their strategic business and supply chain goals, creating durable business value for organizations at the forefront of technology and business practices. Jeff is the managing director for North America at Transition Technologies PSC, a global solution integrator, and the founder and managing principal of BTV Advisors, a firm that helps companies secure business transformation value from digital supply chain technologies and their breakthrough capabilities.
Chief Marketing Officer
Amanda is a marketing veteran and entrepreneur with over 15 years of experience across a variety of industries and organizations including Von Maur, Anthropologie, AmericasMart Atlanta, and Children’s Healthcare of Atlanta. In 2016, Amanda founded and grew the Magnolia Marketing Group into a successful digital media firm, and now she develops modern marketing strategies, social campaigns, innovative operational processes, and implements creative content initiatives for Supply Chain Now. But that’s just the beginning of her supply chain impact. Amanda also served as the VP of Information Systems and Webmaster on the Board of Directors for APICS Savannah for several years, and is the face behind the scenes welcoming you to every Supply Chain Now livestream! She was also recently selected as one of the Top 100 Women in Supply Chain by Supply Chain Digest and IBM. When she’s not leading the Supply Chain Now marketing team, you can find Amanda with her and her husband Scott’s three kids, in the kitchen cooking, or reading.
Business Development Manager
Clay is passionate about two things: supply chain and the marketing that goes into it. Recently graduated with a degree in marketing at the University of Georgia, Clay got his start as a journalism major and inaugural member of the Owl’s football team at Kennesaw State University – but quickly saw tremendous opportunity in the Terry College of Business. He’s already putting his education to great use at Supply Chain Now, assisting with everything from sales and brand strategy to media production. Clay has contributed to initiatives such as our leap into video production, the guest blog series, and boosting social media presence, and after nearly two years in Supply Chain Now’s Marketing Department, Clay now heads up partnership and sales initiatives with the help of the rest of the Supply Chain Now sales team.
Trisha is new to the supply chain industry – but not to podcasting. She’s an experienced podcast manager and virtual assistant who also happens to have 20 years of experience as an elementary school teacher. It’s safe to say, she’s passionate about helping people, and she lives out that passion every day with the Supply Chain Now team, contributing to scheduling and podcast production.
Host of Dial P for Procurement
Billy Taylor is a Proven Business Excellence Practitioner and Leadership Guru with over 25 years leading operations for a Fortune 500 company, Goodyear. He is also the CEO of LinkedXL (Excellence), a Business Operating Systems Architecting Firm dedicated to implementing sustainable operating systems that drive sustainable results. Taylor’s achievements in the industry have made him a Next Generational Lean pacesetter with significant contributions.
An American business executive, Taylor has made a name for himself as an innovative and energetic industry professional with an indispensable passion for his craft of operational excellence. His journey started many years ago and has worked with renowned corporations such as The Goodyear Tire & Rubber Co. (GT) leading multi-site operations. With over 3 decades of service leading North America operations, he is experienced in a deeply rooted process driven approach in customer service, process integrity for sustainability.
A disciple of continuous improvement, Taylor’s love for people inspires commitment to helping others achieve their full potential. He is a dynamic speaker and hosts "The Winning Link," a popular podcast centered on business and leadership excellence with the #1 rated Supply Chain Now Network. As a leadership guru, Taylor has earned several invitations to universities, international conferences, global publications, and the U.S. Army to demonstrate how to achieve and sustain effective results through cultural acceptance and employee ownership. Leveraging the wisdom of his business acumen, strong influence as a speaker and podcaster Taylor is set to release "The Winning Link" book under McGraw Hill publishing in 2022. The book is a how-to manual to help readers understand the management of business interactions while teaching them how to Deine, Align, and Execute Winning in Business.
A servant leader, Taylor, was named by The National Diversity Council as one of the Top 100 Diversity Officers in the country in 2021. He features among Oklahoma's Most Admired CEOs and maintains key leadership roles with the Executive Advisory Board for The Shingo Institute "The Nobel Prize of Operations" and The Association of Manufacturing Excellence (AME); two world-leading organizations for operational excellence, business development, and cultural learning. He is also an Independent Director for the M-D Building Products Board, a proud American manufacturer of quality products since 1920.
Social Media Manager
My name is Chantel King and I am the Social Media Specialist at Supply Chain Now. My job is to make sure our audience is engaged and educated on the abundant amount of information the supply chain industry has to offer.
Social Media and Communications has been my niche ever since I graduated from college at The Academy of Art University in San Francisco. No, I am not a West Coast girl. I was born and raised in New Jersey, but my travel experience goes way beyond the garden state. My true passion is in creating editorial and graphic content that influences others to be great in whatever industry they are in. I’ve done this by working with lifestyle, financial, and editorial companies by providing resources to enhance their businesses.
Another passion of mine is trying new things. Whether it’s food, an activity, or a sport. I would like to say that I am an adventurous Taurus that never shies away from a new quest or challenge.
Lori is currently completing a degree in marketing with an emphasis in digital marketing at the University of Georgia. When she’s not supporting the marketing efforts at Supply Chain Now, you can find her at music festivals – or working toward her dream goal of a fashion career. Lori is involved in many extracurricular activities and appreciates all the learning experiences UGA has brought her.
Sales and Marketing Coordinator
Katherine is a marketing professional and MBA candidate who strives to unite her love of people with a passion for positive experiences. Having a diverse background, which includes nonprofit work with digital marketing and start-ups, she serves as a leader who helps people live their most creative lives by cultivating community, order, collaboration, and respect. With equal parts creativity and analytics, she brings a unique skill set which fosters refining, problem solving, and connecting organizations with their true vision. In her free time, you can usually find her looking for her cup of coffee, playing with her puppy Charlie, and dreaming of her next road trip.
Ben Harris is the Director of Supply Chain Ecosystem Expansion for the Metro Atlanta Chamber. Ben comes to the Metro Atlanta Chamber after serving as Senior Manager, Market Development for Manhattan Associates. There, Ben was responsible for developing Manhattan’s sales pipeline and overall Americas supply chain marketing strategy. Ben oversaw market positioning, messaging and campaign execution to build awareness and drive new pipeline growth. Prior to joining Manhattan, Ben spent four years with the Georgia Department of Economic Development’s Center of Innovation for Logistics where he played a key role in establishing the Center as a go-to industry resource for information, support, partnership building, and investment development. Additionally, he became a key SME for all logistics and supply chain-focused projects. Ben began his career at Page International, Inc. where he drove continuous improvement in complex global supply chain operations for a wide variety of businesses and Fortune 500 companies. An APICS Certified Supply Chain Professional (CSCP), Ben holds an Executive Master’s degree in Business Administration (EMBA) and bachelor’s degree in International Business (BBA) from the Terry College at the University of Georgia.
Host, The Freight Insider
Prior to joining TeamOne Logistics, Page Siplon served as the Executive Director of the Georgia Center of Innovation for Logistics, the State’s leading consulting resource for fueling logistics industry growth and global competitiveness. For over a decade, he directly assisted hundreds of companies to overcome challenges and capitalize on opportunities related to the movement of freight. During this time, Siplon was also appointed to concurrently serve the State of Georgia as Director of the larger Centers of Innovation Program, in which he provided executive leadership and vision for all six strategic industry-focused Centers. As a frequently requested keynote speaker, Siplon is called upon to address a range of audiences on unique aspects of technology, workforce, and logistics. This often includes topics of global and domestic logistics trends, supply chain visibility, collaboration, and strategic planning. He has also been quoted as an industry expert in publications such as Forbes, Journal of Commerce, Fortune, NPR, Wall Street Journal, Reuters, American Express, DC Velocity, Area Development Magazine, Site Selection Magazine, Inbound Logistics, Modern Material Handling, and is frequently a live special guest on SiriusXM’s Road Dog Radio Show. Siplon is an active industry participant, recognized by DC Velocity Magazine as a “2012 Logistics Rainmaker” which annually identifies the top-ten logistics professionals in the Nation; and named a “Pro to Know” by Supply & Demand Executive Magazine in 2014. Siplon was also selected by Georgia Trend Magazine as one of the “Top 100 Most Influential Georgians” for 2013, 2014, and 2015. He also serves various industry leadership roles at both the State and Federal level. Governor Nathan Deal nominated Siplon to represent Georgia on a National Supply Chain Competitiveness Advisory Committee, where he was appointed to a two-year term by the U.S. Secretary of Commerce and was then appointed to serve as its vice-chairman. At the State level, he was selected by then-Governor Sonny Perdue to serve as lead consultant on the Commission for New Georgia’s Freight and Logistics Task Force. In this effort, Siplon led a Private Sector Advisory Committee with invited executives from a range of private sector stakeholders including UPS, Coca-Cola, The Home Depot, Delta Airlines, Georgia Pacific, CSX, and Norfolk Southern. Siplon honorably served a combined 12 years in the United States Marine Corps and the United States Air Force. During this time, he led the integration of encryption techniques and deployed cryptographic devices for tactically secure voice and data platforms in critical ground-to-air communication systems. This service included support for all branches of the Department of Defense, multiple federal security agencies, and aiding NASA with multiple Space Shuttle launches. Originally from New York, Siplon received both a bachelor’s and master’s degree in electrical and computer engineering with a focus on digital signal processing from the Georgia Institute of Technology. He earned an associate’s degree in advanced electronic systems from the Air Force College and completed multiple military leadership academies in both the Marines and Air Force. Siplon currently lives in Cumming, Georgia (north of Atlanta), with his wife Jan, and two children Thomas (19) and Lily (15).
Host, Logistics with Purpose
Kristi Porter is VP of Sales and Marketing at Vector Global Logistics, a company that is changing the world through supply chain. In her role, she oversees all marketing efforts and supports the sales team in doing what they do best. In addition to this role, she is the Chief Do-Gooder at Signify, which assists nonprofits and social impact companies through copywriting and marketing strategy consulting. She has almost 20 years of professional experience, and loves every opportunity to help people do more good.
Host, Logistics with Purpose
Kevin Brown is the Director of Business Development for Vector Global Logistics. He has a dedicated interest in Major Account Management, Enterprise Sales, and Corporate Leadership. He offers 25 years of exceptional experience and superior performance in the sales of Logistics, Supply Chain, and Transportation Management. Kevin is a dynamic, high-impact, sales executive and corporate leader who has consistently exceeded corporate goals. He effectively coordinates multiple resources to solution sell large complex opportunities while focusing on corporate level contacts across the enterprise. His specialties include targeting and securing key accounts by analyzing customer’s current business processes and developing solutions to meet their corporate goals. Connect with Kevin on LinkedIn.
Host, Supply Chain Now en Espanol
Sofia Rivas Herrera is a Mexican Industrial Engineer from Tecnologico de Monterrey class 2019. Upon graduation, she earned a scholarship to study MIT’s Graduate Certificate in Logistics and Supply Chain Management and graduated as one of the Top 3 performers of her class in 2020. She also has a multicultural background due to her international academic experiences at Singapore Management University and Kühne Logistics University in Hamburg. Sofia self-identifies as a Supply Chain enthusiast & ambassador sharing her passion for the field in her daily life.
Host, Logistics with Purpose
Jose Manuel Irarrazaval es parte del equipo de Vector Global Logistics Chile. José Manuel es un gerente experimentado con experiencia en finanzas corporativas, fusiones y adquisiciones, financiamiento y reestructuración, inversión directa y financiera, tanto en Chile como en el exterior. José Manuel tiene su MBA de la Universidad de Pennsylvania- The Wharton School. Conéctese con Jose Manuel en LinkedIn.
Host, Supply Chain Now en Espanol
Demo Perez started his career in 1997 in the industry by chance when a relative asked him for help for two just weeks putting together an operation for FedEx Express at the Colon Free Zone, an area where he was never been but accepted the challenge. Worked in all roles possible from a truck driver to currier to a sales representative, helped the brand introduction, market share growth and recognition in the Colon Free Zone, at the end of 1999 had the chance to meet and have a chat with Fred Smith ( FedEx CEO), joined another company in 2018 who took over the FedEx operations as Operations and sales manager, in 2004 accepted the challenge from his company to leave the FedEx operations and business to take over the operation and business of DHL Express, his major competitor and rival so couldn’t say no, by changing completely its operation model in the Free Zone. In 2005 started his first entrepreneurial journey by quitting his job and joining two friends to start a Freight Forwarding company. After 8 months was recruited back by his company LSP with the General Manager role with the challenge of growing the company and make it fully capable warehousing 3PL. By 2009 joined CSCMP and WERC and started his journey of learning and growing his international network and high-level learning. In 2012 for the first time joined a local association ( the Panama Maritime Chamber) and worked in the country’s first Logistics Strategy plan, joined and lead other associations ending as president of the Panama Logistics Council in 2017. By finishing his professional mission at LSP with a company that was 8 times the size it was when accepted the role as GM with so many jobs generated and several young professionals coached, having great financial results, took the decision to move forward and start his own business from scratch by the end of 2019. with a friend and colleague co-founded IPL Group a company that started as a boutique 3PL and now is gearing up for the post-Covid era by moving to the big leagues.
Host, Supply Chain Now
The founder of Logistics Executive Group, Kim Winter delivers 40 years of executive leadership experience spanning Executive Search & Recruitment, Leadership Development, Executive Coaching, Corporate Advisory, Motivational Speaking, Trade Facilitation and across the Supply Chain, Logistics, 3PL, E-commerce, Life Science, Cold Chain, FMCG, Retail, Maritime, Defence, Aviation, Resources, and Industrial sectors. Operating from the company’s global offices, he is a regular contributor of thought leadership to industry and media, is a professional Master of Ceremonies, and is frequently invited to chair international events.
He is a Board member of over a dozen companies throughout APAC, India, and the Middle East, a New Zealand citizen, he holds formal resident status in Australia and the UAE, and is the Australia & New Zealand representative for the UAE Government-owned Jebel Ali Free Zone (JAFZA), the Middle East’s largest Economic Free Zone.
A triathlete and ex-professional rugby player, Kim is a qualified (IECL Sydney) executive coach and the Founder / Chairman of the successful not for profit humanitarian organization, Oasis Africa (www. oasisafrica.org.au), which has provided freedom from poverty through education to over 8000 mainly orphaned children in East Africa’s slums. Kim holds an MBA and BA from Massey & Victoria Universities (NZ).
Host, Logistics with Purpose
Nick Roemer has had a very diverse and extensive career within design and sales over the last 15 years stretching from China, Dubai, Germany, Holland, UK, and the USA. In the last 5 years, Nick has developed a hawk's eye for sustainable tech and the human-centric marketing and sales procedures that come with it. With his far-reaching and strong network within the logistics industry, Nick has been able to open new avenues and routes to market within major industries in the USA and the UAE. Nick lives by the ethos, “Give more than you take." His professional mission is to make the logistics industry leaner, cleaner and greener.
Sales Support Intern
Alex is pursuing a Marketing degree and a Certificate in Legal Studies at the University of Georgia. As a dual citizen of both the US and UK; Alex has studied abroad at University College London and is passionate about travel and international business. Through her coursework at the Terry College of Business, Alex has gained valuable skills in digital marketing, analytics, and professional selling. She joined Supply Chain Now as a Sales Support Intern where she assists the team by prospecting and qualifying new business partners.