Productivity tools are wonderful inventions used for their intended purpose, making writing, calculating, and presenting information much easier and faster. But things can get ugly quickly when people and organizations attempt to turn these tools into something they weren’t intended to be or for that which they’re ill-suited.
Take Excel as an example. It’s a fast way to organize and parse specific data for specific uses. Instead of manually calculating each row or column, a little knowledge lets you create a spreadsheet showing formula-driven outputs to address a narrow set of parameters.
But when used as the basis or a critical component of a forecast or overall strategy, Excel supply chain planning is much less effective. Adding a spreadsheet to gut feelings, paper analysis, manual, tribal sales staff knowledge, and verbal vendor and supplier agreements makes the system not much more than an ad hoc, disparate approximation.
In short, it’s like putting lipstick on a pig. You may dress it up a bit, and you may, from time to time, find valuable nuggets of information. But at the end of the day, these supply chain planning systems are still ugly, and the pig is still the pig.
Don’t Cast Pearls Before Swine
An old saying admonishes us not to throw pearls before swine.
And the same goes for your data. Your company’s supply chain data is among its most valuable assets. And when it’s put through spreadsheet analysis, buffeted by gut feeling and intuition among planners, sales staff, and management, it will get trampled in the process.
Instead, utilize advanced software to use at or near real-time data. Platforms like Demand and Supply Planning software from Plex DemandCaster put your data into cloud-based analytics to render actionable insights and make your data shine with the luster it intended.
Never Wrestle a Pig
Although its source is murky, the advice of “never wrestle with a pig because you’ll just get dirty, and the pig will like it” is also sound for supply chain planning. The spreadsheets you use will work as designed and are happy to do so.
But planning staff and management are left with getting into the dirty details that come with the shortfalls of spreadsheet analysis and its limitations. Plex DemandCaster’s advanced supply planning software reduces bias and errors from manual data entry. It keeps data clean without wrestling the other parts of a manual system to get results.
Less labor and more accurate forecasting from a dynamic system – instead of a static tool that must be rationalized and standardized – will add value to the supply chain planning process.
You Can’t Make a Silk Purse Out of a Sow’s Ear
Communication is critical in a modern-day complex supply chain. If intercompany supply communication is broken, it’s a good bet that supplier communication is no better. Stitching it together with paper-based contracts and verbal agreements won’t streamline or make communication valuable.
Plex DemandCaster offers a software solution that builds and facilitates communication with unsiloed data and standardized processes. Minimum and economic order quantities, what-if planning, ABC analysis, and more can be automated and included in real-time communication across the entire chain, so everyone is always on the same page.
When Pigs Fly
Excel supply chain planning expectations are often unrealistic, and this tendency is especially true for transportation and logistics. Unrealistic expectations can be a jolt to an enterprise that realizes its grasp on data and analysis is so tenuous with spreadsheets that they have a better chance of seeing pigs fly than receiving material on time.
DemandCaster’s Distribution Requirements Planning software uses analytics-driven data to reduce transportation-related shortages and automate processes so you can respond to unplanned demand and supply constraints.
The software also automates decision-making with time-phased inventory replenishment tied into existing ERP solutions; this lets you fix disruption using inventory routing from trusted secondary suppliers. You’ll move from seeing your material arrive when pigs fly to seeing it arrive because data and accurate forecasting say so.
Using Software to Get Out of the Mud
Excel and other spreadsheet-based solutions will never deliver your business a successful supply chain plan. But the robust suite of software solutions from Plex DemandCaster will. With DemandCaster, you can realize complete end-to-end supply chain visibility and data-driven insights provided by advanced analytics using your data at or near real-time.
To rise out of the mud and stop putting lipstick on the spreadsheet pig, contact us today.