5 minute read

I love the 4th of July holiday. As a kid, the 4th of July always represented the best of the summer school break and often included fun activities like swimming, camping, fishing, spending time in a park, parades, and wonderful firework displays. Of course, there was always the abundance of kid-friendly foods like hot dogs, hamburgers, popsicles, watermelon (and the ensuing watermelon seed spitting distance contest), salty chips of all kinds, and lots of sugary drinks. As a parent, watching your child experience the 4th makes the holiday even more special.

4th of July picnic

Most people don’t think about all the planning that needs to take place in the months leading up to the 4th to make sure everything is available to make this national holiday a success. However, supply chain practitioners from thousands of different consumable and non-consumable consumer goods companies use historical sales to try to predict demand for their products for the upcoming holiday.

Forecasts for everything from paper plates and plastic utensils, to charcoal and lighter fluid, to suntan lotion, to foods and drinks of all kinds and even the amount of gasoline available for summer trips are calculated. Procurement needs to buy materials, and manufacturing needs to make the products based on these forecasts.

4th of July products

Products in the supply chain need to be carefully staged to meet projected needs in each market, and companies need to quickly respond to unplanned demand and shortages as they occur. It is no small effort to ensure millions of children and parents have a memorable 4th of July.

Why Planning Isn't Enough

It is almost impossible to create accurate forecasts for holiday demand using spreadsheets or the basic forecasting capabilities available in ERP packages. It is likewise difficult to model the variability introduced by the day of the week the holiday falls on, as well as local factors like weather and seasonal fashion trends. Accurate forecasts for new products introduced since the last 4th of July are difficult to produce, but are critical because often these are the products with the highest margins.

Advanced demand planning solutions can help, but with the amount of disruption in the supply chain today and the complexity of multi-enterprise, multi-echelon supply networks, planning is not enough to ensure a successful 4th of July Holiday. As Yogi Berra once said, “The future ain’t what it used to be.”

Collaboration is the #1 Strategy

What is needed today is the ability to quickly sense and collaborate around disruptions and opportunities to dynamically replan and optimally respond. Adopting a clothing fashion idiom to the supply chain, “Speed is the New Black”. In fact, I believe the need to increase process clock speeds is one of the biggest challenges facing supply chains today. It also offers one of the biggest opportunities for a competitive advantage. But how do you increase the speed and become more agile and resilient when you have a complex multi-party supply chain?

Gartner claims, “The number one strategy for improving resilience and agility is to deepen collaborative relationships with key customers and suppliers.” However, in my experience, most companies rely on manual and limited tools like email, spreadsheets, legacy EDI and conference calls to collaborate with the supply chain partners.

To make matters worse, there are often multiple groups within a company that interact with suppliers using different tools (e.g., purchasing, external planning, and logistics). Disconnects and misalignments lead to missed opportunities, higher costs, increased operational risks and slower reaction times to changes or disruptions. What’s needed is a new mindset for supply chain partner collaboration. We need to move from an EgoSystem (Me) to Ecosystem (We) approach.

Gartner predicts that by 2026, more than 50% of large organizations will compete as collaborative digital ecosystems rather than discrete firms, sharing inputs, assets and innovations.

This is happening because a growing percentage of products are produced and packaged through partners and to effectively manage the fast-paced, chaotic nature of today’s supply chain ecosystems requires a digital solution purpose built for multi-enterprise supply chain business process collaboration. This is where Multi-Enterprise Supply Chain Business Network (MESCBN) Platforms like the one offered by Nulogy come into play.

The Value of Multi-Enterprise Collaboration

Nulogy is hyper-focused on enabling efficient, agile and collaborative multi-enterprise supply ecosystems. Last year Nulogy was named a Leader by Quadrant Knowledge Solutions in their Multi-Enterprise Supply Chain Business Networks 2021 Spark Matrix report. Quadrant Knowledge Solutions said the following about Nulogy’s MESCBN Platform:

“Nulogy’s unified MESCBN Platform enables organizations to achieve deep collaboration and two-way real-time visibility between suppliers and brand manufacturers. […] The platform helps organizations drive agility and improvement across business processes, manage costs, enhance on-shelf availability, optimize operational excellence and efficiency, and mitigate carrying cost and material waste.”

Just recently, Gartner named Nulogy as one of only 13 companies named to the 2022 Gartner Magic Quadrant for MESCBNs and has recognized Nulogy as the ONLY notable vendor for the Contract Manufacturing and Co-packing Industry listed in their Magic Quadrant for MESCBNs.

Next time you shop for your 4th of July holiday necessities, stop and think about all the efforts by supply chain professionals to ensure you have everything you need to make your 4th one to remember.

Does your company have the supply chain collaboration capabilities you need to ensure successful holiday and event planning? If not, let’s talk. Enjoy the 4th of July Holiday and I look forward to getting your feedback.

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Written By
Jun 29, 2022

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