The Supply Chain Management Blog covers the latest
in SCM strategy, technology, and innovation.

Recent Posts

Oracle Supply Chain Management

Oracle’s innovation in a new generation of Cloud Applications

Digital transformation is nothing new, and the most forward-looking companies have been doing it for years. Yet in 2020, the arrival of the COVID-19 pandemic accelerated the pace of transformation to unheard-of speeds. Almost overnight, entire countries and industries had to change the way they operated. The businesses that were already on a software as a service (SaaS) and cloud journey prior to the pandemic had a head start—and in many cases, they fared better than those that put off transformation until the pandemic forced them to make the move. Businesses today have learned that a new generation of modern enterprise applications is key to helping them build a resilient organization—one that can respond and adapt to sudden shocks faster and more easily.   The importance of modern cloud applications Research firm IDC took a closer look at modern cloud applications in a recent report, Oracle Innovation Manifests in a New Generation of Cloud Applications. Author Frank Della Rosa, Research Director for SaaS and Cloud Software at IDC, writes: “Oracle Fusion Cloud Applications characterize this new generation of business applications and cloud services that are imperative for dealing with disruption from a position of strength.” The strength that IDC refers to comes from the common data model of Oracle Fusion Cloud Applications, supporting native integration across our Fusion Cloud line of business apps covering: Enterprise Resource Planning (ERP), Supply Chain Management and Manufacturing (SCM), Customer Experience (CX), and Human Capital Management (HCM). According to IDC, “A new generation of cloud applications is intelligent, easy to use, and better positioned to meet the rapidly changing needs of today's IT and business buyer that expects a frictionless purchase and onboarding experience; a consumer-like, responsive interface that encourages user adoption; and faster time to value.” They are “smarter, are fully integrated, deliver faster time to value, and are easy to onboard and use.” With these capabilities, our customers are fast-tracking digital innovation in disruptive times. Reliable data is critical for decision-making In 2020, the world discovered that reliable data and processes are vital for survival—literal survival, in the case of vaccines and virus-tracking, but also economic survival, as we started to navigate the world of remote work and omnichannel fulfillment. Old business processes that didn't support rapid shifts were replaced with new digital processes, helping employees get access to the right data, at the right time, to make informed decisions and respond to their customers. Along with integration and reliable data, what are some other benefits of a complete, interoperable suite of SaaS applications? For one thing, you don’t have to uptake the whole suite at once; you can onboard new capabilities in weeks and migrate your line of business applications at your own pace. A complete, interoperable suite We often see scenarios where our customers have legacy systems from competitors and want to modernize and digitize key processes immediately. For example, SAP ERP customers often adopt Oracle Cloud Enterprise Performance Management (EPM) to improve their financial planning, reporting, and close process. Or they enhance their supply chain capabilities with Oracle Cloud Transportation Management, part of our SCM solution. This approach to transformation helps you meet the business's most immediate needs while migrating your creaking, legacy core systems at a slower pace to minimize disruption. (Learn more about our offerings to SAP ERP customers here.) Ultimately, as you transition more of your business onto the suite, you start to “eliminate the cost and complexity associated with a myriad of point solutions by investing in a platform that simplifies integration, features a common data architecture, and supports multiple deployment options.” That is a very compelling argument to adopt the next generation of application software—and be ready for whatever comes next. Read the full IDC report and learn more about Oracle's new generation of cloud applications. Watch highlights of our Oracle Live broadcast: Hear about innovations across our cloud applications suite from Steve Miranda, Oracle Executive Vice President, Applications Product Development, and his development leaders. Hear how our customers responded to the last 12 months of uncertainty by partnering with Oracle as their innovator of choice.                  

Digital transformation is nothing new, and the most forward-looking companies have been doing it for years. Yet in 2020, the arrival of the COVID-19 pandemic accelerated the pace of transformation to...


Build the Future of Business with Oracle Cloud Applications: Join us for Oracle Live March 24

As we look forward to a bright future in a post-pandemic world, now is a great time to reflect on the lessons learned in the last 12 months. Despite the disruption businesses faced in 2020, many of our customers used this time to better position themselves for the future using Oracle Cloud Applications. They used the past year of uncertainty as an opportunity to transform, prioritizing technology innovations for both resilience and growth. Steve Miranda, Oracle Executive Vice President, Applications Product Development and his development leaders hosted an exclusive virtual event at Oracle Live: Build the Future of Business with Oracle Cloud Applications. Watch highlights of #OracleLive to learn the lessons of the last months and how innovations across our Fusion Cloud Applications Suite can help you to improve your business across your finance, supply chain, human resources, and customer experience functions. Hear how our customers including Marriot International, Vanguard, and Broadcom responded to this time of uncertainty by partnering with Oracle as their innovator of choice. We highlight traits of companies that have pivoted forward and apply them to help you build the future of your business. Featured Speakers: Steve Miranda Executive Vice President, Applications Development, Oracle   John Bendl Principal, Funds Chief Financial Officer & Chief Accounting Officer, Vanguard Andy Nallappan Chief Technology Officer and Head of Software Business Operations, Broadcom Karen Nelson Senior Vice President, HRIS and Compensation, Marriott International   Rick Jewell Senior Vice President, SCM Applications Development, Oracle   Chris Leone Senior Vice President, HCM Applications Development, Oracle   Holly Simmons Vice President, CX Product Management, Oracle   Mazahir (Maz) Songerwala Senior Vice President, Cloud Service Excellence, Oracle   Rob Tarkoff Executive Vice President and General Manager, Oracle Advertising and Customer Experience   Catherine You Vice President, ERP Applications Development, Oracle Now is the time to build the future of business with Oracle Cloud Applications. Watch the replay here.    

As we look forward to a bright future in a post-pandemic world, now is a great time to reflect on the lessons learned in the last 12 months. Despite the disruption businesses faced in 2020, many...

Oracle Supply Chain Management

Trends and Opportunities for Supply Chain Viability

The headlines over recent months have shown how the supply chain has moved to become front and center of people’s attentions - whether personally as consumers or professionally as corporations. Dominic Regan, Senior Director, EMEA Logistics Applications, shares some of the latest challenges and trends with us. During the pandemic, the supply chain community focused on keeping our society fed, supplied and healthy in the midst of disruption. What are the weaknesses that have been brought to light? Before talking about the weaknesses, I think that first it is important to recognize how well many supply chains have coped during the pandemic. Very often as supply chain professionals we spend a lot of time fire-fighting, and perhaps don’t step back and appreciate what we have actually achieved. If nothing else, the headlines over recent months have shown how the supply chain has moved to become front and center of people’s attentions - whether personally as consumers or professionally as corporations. So, when faced with the scale and size of global disruption that simply could never have been anticipated, I believe supply chains have in many cases proven to be both remarkably agile and resilient. We have seen customers managing unprecedented spikes in demand, customers who have successfully found new suppliers at short notice, and even customers who have switched entirely the products that they are manufacturing or distributing. We have also seen companies which have had to stop production entirely for diverse reasons. The automotive industry is perhaps a classic example of this, where McKinsey reported only last month that “the COVID-19 crisis has compelled about 95 percent of all German automotive-related companies to put their workforces on short-term work during the shutdown.” So why is it that some industries and companies have coped, whereas others have not? I believe a lot of this comes down to transparency, whether in terms of understanding the supply chain network and how it is made up of many interconnected players, or in terms of understanding the location and availability of inventory, whether in motion or at rest. Without this transparency it proved impossible for companies to put contingencies in place, certainly in the timescales that the pandemic required. So, we saw, for example, how single-country sources of supply meant that sometimes complete industries had to shut down, but also how the absence of inventory visibility meant that companies could not guarantee delivery times or certainty of supply. “By gaining this transparency, and then understanding how to analyze and act upon it, it will enable companies to become more agile and resilient” What does this mean for the future? Well I think the drive we have seen in recent years to get more accurate, granular and real-time data will become embedded as the foundation for supply chain transparency going forwards. This transparency will embrace the physical, financial and informational supply chains - meaning that companies become better at understanding the supply chains they personally operate as well as those other networks and partners they interact with, but also how the dependencies these supply chains have with other business functions such as Sales & Marketing, Research and Development and Post-Sales Service. By gaining this transparency, and then understanding how to analyze and act upon it, it will enable companies to become more agile and resilient, which I believe will become as important measures for the supply chain of the future as efficiency has been in the past. Aligning corporate and supply chain strategy Working with many companies globally and in Switzerland, what are the main inhibitors for supply chain viability and how is Oracle helping find solutions? The study we just released with the University of St Gallen “The Rise of Supply Chain Viability - digital solutions as a boosting role” highlights the steps necessary to achieve supply chain viability, and clearly companies that lack these foundations will find it difficult to progress. Lack of visibility and transparency, for example is one area. “If you can’t measure it you can’t manage it”, this saying is equally true for factors as diverse as freight spend, shipment utilization or the impact of the supply chain on carbon footprint. Clearly without visibility and transparency it is difficult to know what needs addressing, let alone where to start. However, there are other factors that also come into play. In particular I think a failure of alignment between the broader corporate strategy and the specific supply chain strategy can be a major inhibitor. This is perhaps one of the areas where I see differences in companies around the world, with many European companies - including those headquartered out of Switzerland - having perhaps a stronger focus on their Corporate Social Responsibility agendas than those based elsewhere. For example, one can look at companies in the Consumer Goods sector, such as Unilever and Tetra Pak, or in the automotive sector such as Volvo, whose websites speak to how sustainability is embedded as much in their culture as in their operations, whether this is in terms of ensuring products and components are ethically sourced or in terms of looking to reduce carbon-usage or the prevalence of single-use plastics across the supply chain. I believe companies such as these, who have become strongly customer-centric and who see sustainability as a corporate - if not societal - objective, will be better aligned in terms of achieving supply chain viability. In terms of how Oracle can help, if I look at my own area of logistics then clearly our execution level solutions such as Transportation, Global Trade and Warehouse Management can deliver the foundational requirements for supply chain efficiency. There are also technologies such as blockchain which feature in our Intelligent Track & Trace application that can help companies gain visibility into their multi-tier networks and understand the chain of custody. We also see how Machine Learning and Adaptive Intelligence can be used to deliver the type of automated predictions, and tracing of products and processes, that would otherwise go untapped. This ability to maximize the value of newer technologies, along with the ability to run scenario planning that helps deliver agility and resilience, is what I believe results in Oracle having an unrivalled portfolio to help companies progress towards supply chain viability, regardless of their current IT landscape. Starting by gaining that visibility and transparency is the bedrock for progression, as without this transparency companies run the risk of doing things based on gut feel and emotion rather than empirical evidence. It is surprising how many times gaining some simple visibility either highlights deficiencies in an operation, or presents some unexpected opportunities. But even visibility takes time, so you might want start in a specific operational area such as transportation, which has the by-product that it can also help deliver improvements in customer service. Ultimately what is important is not to focus on having visibility, or how you get it, but rather on what you then do with it. Clearly in terms of supply chain viability it is the case that visibility and transparency are just one step along the journey, albeit an important one. So, identifying the resulting business value that will come from this visibility, and then using that to drive ongoing rollout and adoption is key. Tetra Pak, for example, decided to become a global supply chain leader in the food packaging and processing industry by 2020. They leveraged Oracle Transportation Management (OTM) Cloud to gain a competitive advantage by completely overhauling their transportation management platform to improve their logistics capabilities, obtain real-time predictive shipment visibility and coordinate efforts on a global scale. Whilst visibility was important to them, it was not an end goal in itself. So, their supply chain control tower project was defined with a clear progression that moved from an initial focus on improving logistics efficiency, then to ensuring world class customer experience, to finally enabling optimized and sustainable transport management. This approach allowed them to start small, with a number of pilot deployments, before moving to several regional streams that together will deliver global visibility. All of this was done with a clear vision of both their corporate and supply chain strategies. To me this approach is ideal, and provides a model to follow for other companies progressing towards a vision of supply chain viability. 

The headlines over recent months have shown how the supply chain has moved to become front and center of people’s attentions - whether personally as consumers or professionally as corporations. Dominic...

Oracle Supply Chain Management

Why do you need a data driven supply chain for 2021?

The new reality of 2020 pushed organizations to realign operations and supply chains to thrive. The focus is now on adaptability, speed, risk reduction, and sustainability whilst adopting more flexible sourcing and distribution strategies as regionalization has become a trend. The Institute of Supply Chain Management of University of St Gallen just released its latest study in collaboration with Oracle called “The Rise of Supply Chain Viability - Digital Solutions as a boosting Role”. The study's goal is to assess the triggers of Supply Chain Viability and look at the role of digital solutions in achieving Supply Chain Viability. Find the full study here. Professor Hofmann, Director, Institute of Supply Chain Management, University of St Gallen, shares some of the takeaways. Cloud solutions for Supply Chain Viability What are the main take-ways of your study? The increasing emergence of trend breaks, the shift of ecological and social imperatives and customer advocacy forces traditional supply chains to change. The need for sustainability and resilience is higher than ever before, which should be strongly focused by Supply Chains to survive in the future. Supply Chains should push the implementation of sustainability to survive on a long-term basis. The key enabler for supply chains to become viable is seen in the digital transformation. Today Cloud Solutions are the most promising technology to achieve a viable supply chain. What is specific for Switzerland? Do you see any threats or opportunities for Swiss companies? The global interrelation of Swiss supply chains and dependencies on international supplier networks paired with the strong export and transit orientation forces Swiss Supply Chains to implement transparency and sustainability as well as resilience to survive in the future, react to regional and global changing conditions and sustainability requirements. Due to the global relations and dependencies of Swiss supply chains, various changes not directly impacting the swiss economy can have huge influences on their Swiss supply chains. However, focusing on Supply Chain Viability and the implementation of sustainability and resilience in line with digital transformation can foster the global strength of swiss supply chains especially in times of emerging disruptions and global shocks. How have Swiss executives so far reacted to the findings and what do you expect over the next few months? Swiss executives realized the rigidity and complexity of current supply chains and the need of change to become resilient and sustainable to survive in the future. Within the next months supply chains will still struggle to survive the COVID-19 crisis as it will have tedious, far-reaching consequences. Despite this, supply chains will implement first instruments to predict future risks and changes and develop scenarios to overcome them. However, the transformation to viable Supply Chains will be a longer journey for some. What is your advice to Swiss companies wanting to ensure that their supply chain is ready for 2021? Focusing strongly on sustainability implementation and resilience as well as driving the digital transformation is key to achieve Supply Chain Viability. Supply Chains need to establish ecological and social orientation and long-term sustainability of all measures in their supply chain by using technological innovations to improve sustainability within and across Supply Chains. At the same time, adaptability should be built up in order to be able to react to disruptions. Data and analytics for agile and resilient supply chains “Ultimately, the companies that have their data under control and that use the appropriate technology to collect it will have the most agile and resilient supply chains.” Darko Belic, CEO of DHL Automotive GmbH and Head of DHL LLP Ford of Europe Much of the vulnerability related to supply chains is about the lack of visibility of inventory, whether static or in-transit, and how it can be affected by factors that are typically beyond the scope of a company’s own supply chain. This is why Oracle has been working alongside DHL Resilience360 a web-based Big Data Supply Chain Risk Management Solution, to provide logistics planners and customer service clerks using Oracle Transportation Management with the ability to achieve enhanced visibility of potential risks on a global level to supply chain operations in order to react to near real-time incidents during both planning and execution, including the ability to re-plan shipments where necessary to avoid disruption and to pro-actively inform end customers of potential delays and delivery disruptions, offering value-added information services, avoid loss of reputation and protect their company’s top line. For some time DHL Supply Chain has been leveraging the integration of both solutions to offer their Lead Logistics Partner service to global shippers across multiple industries including Automotive and Life Sciences. Darko Belic, Managing Director of DHL Automotive GmbH and Head of DHL LLP Ford of Europe tells us more. What is your strategy to build resilience and transparency in the face of global disruption and how is Oracle’s technology helping? In order to create resilience and transparency managing and interpreting data efficiently is crucial. The team can react to unplanned disruptions if it rapidly knows where the material is located, if it is impacted by a local disruption like a local lock down for example, if regions on route are impacted and if the destination is accessible. This information is required in real time to allow for rapid decision taking. DHL uses “Resilience 360” in order to collect data from different sources like the www, social media or others and overlay the gathered data with its network. Ultimately, the companies that have their data under control and that use the appropriate technology to collect it will have the most agile and resilient supply chains. What about the human relationship within the supply chain? How do you develop the talent and culture to support innovation? Innovation and digitalization won’t be televised. An environment and organizational set up which does not give room for creativity will not empower its people to develop new ideas. One intuitive option to foster continuous improvement is to implement “think tanks” or dedicated teams in operations which solely focus on innovation and service or process improvement. Digitalization is mistakenly perceived as equal to efficiencies and reduced workload. The truth is that digitalization is key for companies to succeed in a global economy and supply chain as it helps not only to secure jobs but also can to enrich them. It not only attracts employees but offers existing ones the possibility to learn new skills. Robotics for example can replace repeating copy & paste tasks and enable the employee to focus more on value added services which are on the other side leveraged by digitalization. A good example is Track & Trace. Instead of calling the carrier to localize a truck, this solution can provide the information real time and the employee can focus on tasks like optimizing the routes instead, using the information to improve dock schedules at destination, keeping the inventory levels under control and planning contingencies earlier if needed. In this case a rather time-consuming low value task (phone call) is being replaced by other more strategic ones. What are your recommendations for companies embarking on a journey to a viable supply chain? Start with the current state mapping and define where you want to be in 1 to 5 years. Reduce the complexity of your long-term strategy by breaking down the rather complex and intangible vision into less complex and more tangible shorter-term actions and be open to adapt and amend your strategy during your journey if new technological developments offer better solutions. For example, if you are currently storing your data in Excel sheets and ordering your transports via phone, do not try to implement blockchain or internet of things but rather focus first on setting the basics like smarter connectivity tools with your stakeholders, implementation of master data like data lakes and a proper TMS and data managing system like Oracle. Once the basics are set review and re-asses your next steps and strategy and adjust if needed on learnings and new developments.

The new reality of 2020 pushed organizations to realign operations and supply chains to thrive. The focus is now on adaptability, speed, risk reduction, and sustainability whilst adopting more...

Oracle Supply Chain Management

6 opportunities to eliminate waste in supply chain projects

By Kaushik Sivakumar, SCM, Oracle, Product Management Asset-intensive projects are typically long-term initiatives that can cost millions or even billions of dollars over the asset’s implementation. During these uncertain times, it is even more important to streamline efficiencies for effective project management and to eliminate waste on highly capital-intensive projects. Some examples of asset intensive projects are nationally based cellular buildouts or a utility company’s project to install smart meters throughout a city. According to PMI Pulse of the Profession* survey, 9.9% of every dollar is wasted on poor project management, which equates to $99 million on a $1 billion project.   According to the same study, only 64% of the most mature project management teams deliver a project on time, and only 67% of projects are delivered on budget. When you compare those KPIs to low maturity project teams, only 36% of projects are delivered on time and 43% are on budget. Unnoticed Project Wastefulness There are many reasons for the excessive waste and poor project performance—a lack of visibility into financials for a given project, disconnected software applications, manual processes, workarounds to derive data from siloed information. Some traditional supply chain solutions provide data as sources for some of the project metrics, but they often don’t provide the detailed insight that a project manager needs to course correct quickly to prevent waste or knowing when to adjust supplies. Phases of a project Let’s dig a little deeper into the progression of an asset-intensive project, such as building a cellular network. Here are the typical phases of such a project: •    Quote/bid, initiate the project – This includes engineering functions, as well as negotiations, legal reviews, contracts, and project planning.  Depending on the contract terms, it may include prototypes of cell towers or suppliers providing quotes for other major physical components of the cellular network that are being built out or upgraded. •    Supply Chain Planning and Materials Management – This starts the initial phase of the supply chain processes that include planning, ordering, manufacturing, managing inventory, and transporting goods for the project. It also typically involves subcontracted services for specific aspects of the project, e.g. hiring architecture or site planning company, engineering services, or welders and electricians to help construct cell towers. •    Construction – Actual work of the project is performed at project sites. The project manager carefully manages the process, inventory and contractors to try to avoid delays and mitigate risks so that the construction project is completed on time and within budget. •    Transfer of ownership and service – Here, the completed asset, in this case, a cell tower network is transferred from the project manager/contractor to the owner. Depending on the project, it may be a private company or a public entity. And then, the asset typically rolls into a maintenance phase. At this point warranties, service contracts, SLAs, and replacement parts come in to play when there’s a hardware failure, upgrade or damage to a cell tower network. •    Capitalization, billing and revenue – The finance department will account for the receivables and payables, properly attributing costs and expenses to the correct project, and capitalizing assets. Common Challenges to Overcome What has been described is the intersection between projects and supply chain processes. Without an integrated solution, these processes can be a muddle of disparate management software applications, manual tasks, and cumbersome work-arounds. Add in delays in the timeline because of macroeconomics events, inclement weather, resource scheduling conflicts, permit reviews, approvals from cities or component part delays, and you could quite easily have a confusing trail that requires forensic investigation to see if a project is on budget, let alone identify the nuances of project waste and detect in-flight project scope creep. The Solution:  Six Opportunities to Eliminate Waste in Supply Chain Projects An end to end project-driven supply chain solution that integrates the six functions listed below can help project managers eliminate waste.   1.    Project planning—with dashboard KPIs to streamline scheduling and budgets for individual projects to quickly gain insight and track the progress at any point in the lifecycle. 2.    Procurement—designed for project-specific purchasing to ensure materials are priced, procured, and received into inventory according to the specifications of each individual project. 3.    Supply chain—with automated functionality to orchestrate a complex multi-project supply chain, you can set up business rules for project requests, orders, creating documents, look-ups and attachment categories, and replenishment planning with a dashboard work area to manage the workflows. 4.    Manufacturing—offering functionality to create work orders, review availability and pick materials at the project or task level, attribute work orders as well as manage inventory and costs per individual project. 5.    Maintenance—with a process flow to create work orders, issue parts from a common or project-specific inventory, the solution also enables you to purchase outside services, import materials, and resource costs, with all costs, resources, and details associated with individual projects. 6.    Finance—with controls to ensure that multiple projects, customers, and associated activities can be accounted for separately with visibility into costs, expenses, and payables. Benefits of a Project Driven Supply Chain Fully supporting supply chain processes within the context of a specific project, including procurement, inventory, ordering, manufacturing, shipping, maintenance and costing, as well as finance functions and project accounting makes it makes easier to gain oversight and take corrective action as needed.  When connected to finance, the project manager can gain visibility into how each project relates to the planned budget at any point in time. For more information on a complete suite of cloud-based applications, go to www.oracle.com/applications. For Project-driven supply chain information, go here.   *2018 PMI Pulse of the Profession Survey                    

By Kaushik Sivakumar, SCM, Oracle, Product Management Asset-intensive projects are typically long-term initiatives that can cost millions or even billions of dollars over the asset’s implementation....