A Production Planner sometimes spends his day managing bucket loads of emails, faxes, telephone calls and emails getting his suppliers to share their information, align their inventory as well as production targets to align to his demand. In fact identifying what the inventory means to different stakeholders is not different from the story of six blind men and the elephant – The inventory like the fabled elephant for each one has a different meaning.
Different Dimensions to Inventory
The truth after all has different dimensions – time, ownership and location. Everybody shares their “true” inventory but there are too many versions of “truth” as each has a different dimension. Very truly inventory needs a taxonomy of its own – to identify inventory by its many different parameters but still be capable of rolling up all into one. That is very important to ensuring that the right stakeholders know their fulfillment responsibilities and the brand OEMs know exactly their liability per vendor in a Contract Manufacturing Scenario.
“Tomorrow’s” KPI’s today
SAP SNC’s SNI is an attempt to present this one version of truth that takes the time dimension into account. SNI expects the owners to pre-determine intelligently the taxonomy of the Inventory and decode its hierarchy. Its very similar to breaking down your liability by credit card and then the expense head per credit card. The information also needs to be synchronous – reported within the same time frame by all stakeholders. This sounds very simple but is a disciplined replacement of what could have earlier been a mélange of phone calls, emails, faxes and EDI Information. Also one of the major benefits of most replenishment monitors is to know “tomorrow” now. Different Inventory thresholds and KPI’s help evaluate the “Criticality” of this inventory situation tomorrow. KPI’s could manifest themselves as different Key Figures. The Data Matrix functionality in SNC does provide the ability to create new Key Figures at the relevant hierarchy levels.
The key therefore is to understand whether one can replace the standard reporting with structured information available in the “grid”. The SNI grid can be conveniently downloaded as an excel that can be further worked upon. However to regularly work on a report it must be saved as a variant. That is a feature missing on the SNI details screen as provided by SAP. But SNC does truly fulfill one of the basic pre requisites of a collaboration portal. That of providing the same picture in all its depth to all the concerned stakeholders. You are thus takes you a step closer to a Demand Driven supply Network.