Trip Down Memory Lane – and What is old is new again: JDA Flowcasting Product to power DRP at Retail?
I cut my business teeth in manufacturing. As a youngster I worked for 5 years at (now defunct) E.G.&G. Sealol, an aerospace and defense manufacturer. I started out as a production planning assistant, eventually running production planning, and before I resigned to move on, being the self-named MIS Manager, running the corporate business systems. When at school I had sat as a boy next to my father who had been a Supply Manager for a division of (now defunct) Harris Graphics in the UK. While sitting at his side during school holidays he showed me how he had led an early implementation of MRP, using ICL OMAC 29. My professional training started after college where I studied for several years, obtaining the Diploma in Industrial Management, and also what was then known as the British Production and Inventory Control Society’s (BPICS) Diploma. I spent many hours reading and leaning about MRP, MRP II, S&OP, JIT, Kanban, OPT, SME, QE, and much, much more. At Sealol I was able to do myself what my father had shown me. It was a fun time.
At Sealol I actually formed and led the roll out of an early net-change MRP system from Honeywell – called HDMS. This was a system ahead of its time. It had a very basic DRP, or Distribution Requirements Planning capability. This early experience paid off when I started work next at Elizabeth Arden UK. Their DRP implemetnation had been a failure; but while running production planning for several product lines and factories, I spent a year learning about the DRP software and working out how to use the software properly to get the planning data needed by the business. I read in these days a lot about Andre Martin (DRP) and Darryl Landavater (MRPII and S&OP). These were pioneers of the stuff of legends. Andre had developed the first DRP system, and Daryl had pioneered the Sales and Operations Planning process that helped move MRP to MRP II. I was in awe of these gents – and many others such as Tom Wallace (S&OP), Oliver Wight (MRP), Shigeo Shingo (SMED), and Hal Mather (P😀 Ratio for order fulfillment). I still have all the books!
It so happened that when I moved into the software vendor space, my good fortune led me to meet – and even work along side for a spell – Andre and Daryl. I cannot tell you how lucky I felt, and feel today, that I had the opportunity to talk and explore – even develop – pioneering ideas with such thought leaders. There was another thought leader at American Software that I got to know well – Carl Bhame. He co-authored what I regard to be the best forecasting or demand planning of operations management text books ever: Forecasting Systems for Operations Management. Many a time I would be in the same room with these (unkown to them) mentors of mine.
Andre and Daryl had another idea they have been trying to develop. DRP is a key business process that formulates the relationship between what had previously been thought of as independent demand with what is far easier to plan, dependent demand. This difference is what creates the infamous bullwhip effect in supply chain management. Andre rightly determined that if retailers could actually “unthink” their current best practices of 20 years (focused on optimizing independent demand with their suppliers) and deploy an integrated DRP system from “store to factory door”, the goals of many retail supply chains might be achieved more effectively and efficiently (fewer out of stocks, lower inventory, increased sales). For many years this “last mile DRP” was a bit of a dream. Technology was not quite ready to process the volume of data needed; and the need to change behavior in retail was not there. Well, it seems time might finally be on Daryl and Andre’s side.
I spotted a press release this week and it seems JDA software, a well-known amalgam of multiple retail, distribution, wholesale and SCM systems from E3, to Manugistics, to i2 Technologies, is now selling the resulting product from Andre and Daryl, now called Flowcasting. Even my old competitor and eventually collaborator, Fred Baumann, GVP at JDA, says some good stuff in the press release.
I no longer cover Supply Chain Management or its technology at Gartner, but I remain in awe of the knowledge and experience that I went through in that market that got me where I am today. I wish Andre and Daryl well on their new journey and I hope they do well and more importantly, I hope that the retail and supply chain industry finally gets to grip with “retail centric DRP”. Good luck chaps.
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