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Design Your Business to Thrive with a Smart Supply Chain Modeling Platform

By John Ames  July 15, 2015

The value of supply chain modeling for businesses to continuously optimize their supply chain operations and adapt to ever-changing market conditions and to answer a variety of scenario-based questions is becoming widely adopted. But a sustainable and impactful supply chain modeling platform is more than just great technology. So what else does it entail? Let’s analyze four of the key components of a smart supply chain modeling platform that drive significant improvements in cost, service and risk.


Four Components of a Smart Supply Chain Modeling Platform

1. A Unified Optimization and Simulation Engine

Having the power to generate and solve what-if scenarios quickly and easily has changed the way businesses look at supply chain design as businesses can now evaluate ranges of options and test them under real-world variability for better decision making. An all-in-one design engine with multiple integrated solvers can perform network, product flow, cost-to-serve, inventory, production and transportation optimization as well as greenfield and demand analysis in a single user interface and data model. Integrated simulation with optimization enables businesses to predict future supply chain performance and readjust their strategies accordingly.

2. Automated Model Building for Simplified Data Analytics and Documentation

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The volume of data required to model the complex supply chains of large corporations can be overwhelming. The final analysis is only as good as the data put in, so make sure your modeling data is accurate and complete. To increase productivity, look for a vendor that offers reference and benchmarking data you may lack, such as transport costs, facility costs, and transit time estimates. This can both speed the modeling process and improve the accuracy of results.

By extending models to the cloud, businesses can expand the influence and relevance of design by more rapidly executing large, impactful projects; sharing collaborative models with stakeholders across the organization and centralizing all modeling data and analysis to enable continuous supply chain improvement and innovation. Cloud-based modeling enables greater collaboration between the team, centralized knowledge and data, extended scalability, and mobility to access data on-the-go.

3. A Shared Service Center/Center of Excellence (COE) for Supply Chain Design

To maximize efficiency supply chain design should be able to see across the entire business to optimize the true end-to-end supply chain and not just a specific business unit or business function. Shared service centers, or supply chain design centers of excellence, can pool talent and technology to provide analysis capabilities to the entire organization. This organizational structure can help the group avoid the pitfalls of local bias or politics and remain focused on data-driven business solutions.

Supply chain design can help businesses identify major breakthroughs in cost savings or service, but those large initiatives can sometimes be disruptive and time consuming. Many companies will first identify quick-win projects that are much easier to implement and still deliver significant cost benefits (e.g., product flow-path, inventory right-sizing, DC-to-customer assignments) to get started. Quick multi-million dollar wins can gain executive attention and establish early credibility for the supply chain designers, and are often used to justify further investment in staff and technology.

4. Support and Guidance from the Supply Chain Design Community

Businesses frequently want to do their own modeling, but need expert guidance to be fully successful. Many organizations utilize project coaching from modeling experts experienced in delivery approach, data analysis and technical guidance that goes well beyond standard technical support. Effective coaching can help guide companies along their journey of building and sustaining a supply chain design team and assist them in establishing their strategic project roadmap, as well as educate them in how best to use the modeling software.


These are just four components that leading businesses are putting into practice in an integrated supply chain platform. By adopting these businesses processes, organizations can now more rapidly and accurately answer their most challenging supply chain what-if questions and offer fact-based and effective recommendations.

To learn more about the elements of a smart platform check out our “Design to Your Business to Thrive: Four Components of an Smart Supply Chain Modeling Platform” Ebook.