Needs & Challenges for Digital Supply Chain Planning

Needs & Challenges for Digital Supply Chain Planning

In the previous article, we covered the Future of Digital Supply Chains, Agile, connected and sustainable. Let’s now focus on what’s NeXt! In this article, the QAD DynaSys senior product management team will share their vision of Digital Supply Chain Planning, the challenges and needs for QAD DynaSys’s customers, the available technologies, the great features QAD DynaSys has developed in the DSCP 2021 release, and their plans for the future.

Meet our experts:

Jean-Luc Rominger who has worked at QAD DynaSys for more than 20 years, and is responsible for R&D and Support teams.

Juliette Bruneel joined DynaSys 8 years ago, after many years in inventory planning. Now you help customers discover the new features of the DynaSys solutions with documentation and training material.

Shaun Phillips, QAD DynaSys Product Product Director, who is responsible for creating the product strategies and go-to-market enablement. 

What are the challenges and needs for Digital Supply Chain Planning for your customers today and tomorrow?

Juliette Bruneel: Today, supply chains are global, so customers need a solution to access their data from anywhere, and anytime. They are looking for an intuitive and user-friendly interface, not only because it is nice-looking, but because it is essential for user adoption, to have people use it and like it. 

Those people should work on a single set of data to agree and to collaborate with. Of course the numbers must be up-to-date; this is what demand sensing is about, to be able to detect changes in demand or in constraints as soon as possible, to react quickly and adapt the plan. But the volume of data is huge, so the planning solution must provide an overview of the current situation with alerts and focus on priorities. And in the end, the plan calculated by the solution must be realistic and feasible, otherwise it will not be executed at the shop floor level. This is why all stakeholders, including finance, need to see the indicators to make sure that the plan is aligned with both their business and financial objectives. 

These days, technology is playing a key role. What specific technology is supporting Digital supply chain planning today?

Jean-Luc Rominger: Nowadays technology is everywhere. I play tennis with a connected racket and it helps me improve my game. With my connected racquet I know for instance the number of forehand and backhand shots I do, the effect provided, the impact location. It could be linked with the type of playground, the weather, the players I played with or against, and my physical indicators… data from players are compared together…, benchmarked, correlations found…

So what is the link with digital supply chain planning? My racket is a connected thing within the Internet Of Things. With digital supply chains, instead of racquets there are Connected Sensors that capture the flow of goods and materials, capacities, and actual inventories.  

Information is collected to update Data Lakes or contribute to Big Data collection. On one side the collection of data is important, on the other side, using it in an effective way  is THE key.  We need facts, tangible facts, real time collection and ability to use this data in an intelligent way to extract insightful decisions. Leveraging data to generate fact-based decisions is the end-game.  

This is possible thanks to new hardware and software capabilities available in the cloud. 

Digital Supply Chain planning uses a plethora of technologies to present fact-based decisions to the planning stakeholders.  This includes machine learning, embedded analytics, optimisation engines, and digital twins.  The planners access the planning solution from any web-browser or the DynaSys mobile application. 

Let’s now focus on the new QAD DynaSys DSCP 2021 release. Today, DSCP stands for Digital Supply Chain Planning. But it was not always the case.

Juliette Bruneel: Last year we decided to change the name of our product, from Demand & Supply Chain Planning and change Demand to Digital as we have entered into a new digital era at QAD DynaSys.

How does this new release support digital supply chain planning?

Juliette Bruneel: The DSCP solution is a proven supply chain planning tool; but it constantly evolves as Supply chains and customers evolve. The biggest part of the new capabilities we introduce in the solution derive from the market and from customer project experience. We understand our customers and we try to provide what will help them best in their today’s and tomorrow’s challenges.

In DSCP 2021, we added Financial planning to involve all stakeholders in the company, even outside of the “pure” supply chain and enable them to discuss over the same set of data, each one with indicators that are relevant to them. There are a full bunch of standard financial indicators, they are “plugged” to the calculated plans to make sure that projected plans are realistic and aligned with the objectives.

We also developed Scenario management features. With a new scenario dimension, you can make different assumptions and simulations, assess the risk, compare plans and their impacts side by side, including impact on cash flow and working capital, and finally decide and publish the scenario that will be the new baseline for operational planning.

Another great headline in our newest release is the Promotion planning and scheduling capabilities. Within QAD DynaSys DSCP, you can now define and manage your promotional events from conception to execution, in a very visual and user-friendly interactive calendar.

Last but not least, for many years now we have been supporting our customers in their digital transformation with a fully Cloud effective solution.

The digitalization of supply chains is a continuous  journey, and although QAD DynaSys has brought a comprehensive Digital Supply Chain Planning capability to the market, there appears to be a lot of opportunity to extend and refine Digital Planning. What are the Product Roadmap features planned for the coming years?

Shaun Phillips: A key roadmap item is Adaptive Planning via Supply Chain Digital Twins

A digital twin of anything is a real-time virtual representation of the physical object.  Adaptive planning uses supply chain digital twins to automatically and continuously analyse, predict, and tune supply chain model parameters using observed actual data. Adaptive planning re-calculates lead-times, run-rates, capacities, and production yields.

If a supplier has contractual lead-time of 7 days, but in reality delivers in 3 days during summer and 11 days in winter, then the raw material buffer inventories can be auto-adjusted to reflect real-life.  

This brings significant benefit to traditional supply chain models that rely on static master data.  The outcome is a more accurate plan, often with reduced inventory, and higher service levels.  The planning model essentially becomes a living thing that evolves to reflect the current reality.

However the headline of our roadmap is the Continuous Improvement Ecosystems. Digital Supply Chains deliver a nexus of perfect technology.  With a high level of connectivity in the public cloud and the capability of artificial intelligence to reliably “pattern match”, our intention is to build a planning ecosystem that continually tunes your planning experiences towards achieving better outcomes.

The ecosystem can profile your planning environment to similar ones and make suggestions regarding planning techniques or business processes. If a majority of planners in the community matching your profile are using a specific planning technique, i.e. daily forecast consumption, then the system may suggest this planning technique to you. Not only will it suggest the technique but also identify the likely added value it will bring.  If external data is required to implement this technique then it will enable the necessary data connectors. You don’t need IT expertise nor super users.  

Continuous Improvement Ecosystems will also extend to the business processes.  There may be a required step or an obsolete step in the planning process. Perhaps there is a forecast collaboration task which consistently introduces forecast error. The system could suggest eliminating this step from the process.

The end result is a simple to use, self-maintaining, learning environment. It is our planning utopia and is something which is at the core of our product vision. 

Let’s get back to the topic of emerging technologies. What is your vision for future and emerging technologies, and what are the added values they will bring to QAD DynaSys customers?

Jean-Luc Rominger: It has already been mentioned several times today, we are in an exciting  period of time embracing the perfect technology storm. QAD DynaSys with many years of providing Cloud Solution is well positioned to extend the Public and Native cloud Software capabilities as part of its DSCP solution.

A public cloud brings added value as each ring of the chain is highly specialized BUT strongly linked to the others. So, the future for Digital Supply Chain Planning Solution is public and native cloud oriented…

Let me give 3 examples of native cloud technologies at QAD DynaSys, among many others:

  • Google Map API : They are used today in DSCP to visualize and interact, on a map, product distribution flows. In the past, an in-house graphical user interface was developed to do it, but for more than 4 years now it’s a simple embedded service based on native cloud technology 
  • Today our Machine Learning capabilities run on QAD DynaSys private cloud. Tomorrow, native cloud AWS services such as Sagemaker will be used instead to leverage highly optimized and shared resources providing huge improvement in the processing time
  • User Experience is evolving, including Natural Language Processing to ask about search or provide short or key information through Personal Assistant (like Google Home or Alexa) is one of the extensions that will be added to professional software. Part of this, new kinds of social collaboration Bots will answer simple questions or manage non added value tasks using RPA (Robotic Process Automation). This free-up time for real challenging problems to solve by supply chain planning stakeholders.

What type of data does a connected supply chain planning system leverage in the Cloud?

Jean-Luc Rominger: Let me recall the example of my connected racket. My data and my personnel statistics are interesting for me, but even more interesting for the community.  Manufacturers can discover possible improvements for their  rackets or other equipment. And if the data collected becomes real time and ultra connected, the racket will populate data to a global ecosystem. It brings an exponential quantity of potential added value. It should not be seen as a risk in terms of competition but as an opportunity of bringing the game or the business at a higher level of maturity. Data is the fuel and digitalisation is the engine.

Data should no longer be considered individual or private. We all collectively win if the flow of data is widely shared. The benefits of leveraging the power of community data to supply chain planning is stronger connectivity,  access to benchmarking data,  and improved collaboration to achieve a higher level of efficiency in a more sustainable ecosystem. Of course sensitive data needs to be kept sensitive but sharing more demand, supply, and capacity data will bring productivity and shared benefit to all players in the network.

Juliette Bruneel
Juliette joined QAD DynaSys in 2013, as she wanted to expand her horizons after experiences in Supply Chain as Procurement Planner and Inventory manager (in mail-order then bakery supplies businesses). She currently coordinates the DSCP product documentation and training material, ranging from the presentation of new features to training guides, and the update of demo environments. Out of working hours, apart from managing her domestic Supply Chain as a mother of two teens, she spends her spare time playing the clarinet with the village orchestra and looking for ideas around zero waste and upcycling (such as making handbags from soda pop tabs).
Jean-Luc Rominger
Jean-Luc has worked at QAD DynaSys since the late 90s and is responsible for R&D and Support teams with the aim of creating an overall excellent customer experience. He defines himself as a problem solver and places customer satisfaction as top priority. His focus is to deliver added values through the new features of the QAD DynaSys solutions. Married and the happy father of 2 daughters, he enjoys running in nature, participates in competitions and is involved in the local tennis team championship.