The Great Supply Chain Bake Off

Written by Jack Cheesbrough
Director of Operations at I-Plan. Jack specialises in driving organisational change through the alignment of business goals, his functional knowledge of I-Plan translates into an advanced analytical approach to supply chain management. Jack’s people orientated approach to software implementation gives him a unique edge when working on business process change, leadership engagement and user training.
6th May 2021

In Lora Cecere’s recent article, ‘How do we stop buying software the wrong way’ she calls for software buyers to request prospective technologists to participate in a ‘bake-off’ to demonstrate the potential business benefits from implementing their tools. I for one, love this idea!

As a software vendor, responding to proposal requests, I share her bewilderment of how many intelligent manufacturing teams buy software from PowerPoint. Lora rightfully states that planning software selection should really bear a lot more resemblance to buying a car. Start with the key criteria and then test drive various options to make a selection.

Having answered many RFPs (request for proposal) for services to the process manufacturing industry I can conclude that an RFP rarely benefits the buyer or seller, and I expand this to also include those the purchased software following the Gartner magic quadrant.

A well-thought-through test plan fills me with confidence that a client has a clear understanding of the problem they are trying to solve, and the goals they are shooting for. Similarly, these are the cases my consultants at I-Plan are desperate to be involved with. We know that demonstrating a lead time reduction, service level increase, or inventory reduction in real terms, using real customer data means so much more to our clients than generic industry figures in a PowerPoint. We also know that differentiating factors between our competition is not going to be lost between the pages of overly positive responses to the RFP. (Who, in this instance, I will not lay the blame).

At I-Plan we love a proof-of-concept request. The most important point that Lora makes is that each supply chain has its own potential. No vendor can guarantee industry-standard forecast error reduction or service level improvement without proving these improvements in the context of the customer supply chain. Recognising the importance of providing our market with the option to ‘test before buy’ we have set about embedding this as part of our services offering. To us, it’s simple, when participating in any kind of proof of concept, test plan, or competition, the likeliness of I-Plan being selected over our competition increases by 75%. We are proud to have offered a Proof of Concept to all our new customers since 2019.

A recent blog post by Alan Cheesbrough, I-Plan Founder and CEO describes how more about the importance of PoC. Read it here.

On your marks, get set, Bake!

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