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Regardless of what improvement program or acronym youre
currently involved with -
ERP, supply chain management, Lean Manufacturing, Six Sigma, reengineering - some things never change.
For example, Wights 35th Law, When you change five things at once
and things get better, credit will be given to the most complex thing you changed, when
the improvements actually resulted from the simplest thing, is as true today as it
Today, no one argues much about the need for accurate and timely data. Any modern
resource planning and scheduling system -including every supply chain management
alternative - depends on accurate inventory records, accurate distribution networks and
source of supply definitions, accurate transportation data, sensible lot sizing and lead
time data, reasonable safety stock guidelines, up to date in transit inventory records,
etc. Without this kind of data, the system wont work. Regardless of the size of your
investment in software, computers, and communication, results fall far short of
But data quality doesnt get much attention in most companies. Yes, there are a
few very well managed companies that know that accurate data isnt an accident. They
have in place proper accountability, defined objectives, performance measurements, and
Unfortunately, in most companies, theres an assumption that the data is, or will
be, good enough. People are focused on "more important things", like the new
MINTS, MARKS, or RANDOM scheduling systems "with the hot new constraint based
scheduling logic. After all, well let the stockroom people and planners clean up the
data". And, when and if things get better, what gets the credit? Why MINTS, MARKS,
and RANDOM of course. Not the threefold improvement in inventory accuracy or the
step-function improvement in transportation data. Or the new controls on safety stock
levels. Or the item data cleanup. Or any of the other data without which the "new
system" would never have worked.
Should you implement new supply chain planning systems? New systems may be required to
improve your performance: if your existing systems lack the fundamental logic to match
resources with demands, and communicate what is really needed and when, then they are probably
due for an upgrade. But it may be that your systems are adequate and that youll get
better results by focusing on basic data rather than a complete systems replacement.
Do you have an active and on-going process for monitoring the basic data upon which
your supply chain planning system depends? Do you really know how accurate your data is?
Or even which elements to measure?
Theres no time like the present to find out. In the chart,
you can see some of the specific areas you should be monitoring, along with the minimum
acceptable level of accuracy needed to operate a modern resource planning and scheduling
If your data is already accurate, great! Youre ready to move on to other
problems. But if it isnt, fix it now. It may be the simplest thing you can do to
generate the results you want.
- Chris Gray
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