How we saved an international retailer from bankruptcy! Part 1

“So can you help us?”, asked the logistics director

Let me summarize:

  • You are not necessarily overstocked, but you are somewhat clueless about where your items are; maybe in this warehouse, maybe in another, maybe in transit or maybe in one of your many shops, even though you have one of the best barcode scanner applications.
  • Customers don’t really receive the items they ordered on time. Sometimes they don`t receive it at all and sometimes they receive another item. You are happy with Dynamics CRM though but you are using CRM to register all complaints

Sounds familiar? Not yet? Then let`s continue.

  • Vendors are supplying you, but they are not necessarily fulfilling their whole purchase order, nor do they deliver on time. Also on rather good days your vendors deliver your whole order, twice and you are saying Microsoft BizTalk might be the culprit?
  • And because of all this your best demand planning system is unreliable? You think your 3 year old nephew`s logic can give better forecast than this multi-million-dollar system you just bought.
  • Customers are standing in line at the cash registers wanting to pay for an item but your in house made point of sale system can’t process items that are not on stock in that store.

And these are only your most pressing issues, because you also have a backlog of 384 other items that needs addressing?

Yes, we can help you! “Yes We Can!”

Mission: Impossible?

mission impossible

“Are there any questions?”, I asked. No one of the 24 Dynamics AX and BizTalk professionals asked any questions. The customers` Business Process managers did have plenty of questions though. After I dismissed my multiple teams of six , I addressed them:

“Look, what you have implemented is theoretically correct. There is not one flaw in this picture; you have chosen the best of breed systems and I understand why. You have connected all those systems using almost a hundred interfaces and you are managing them through Microsoft Biztalk, so theoretically it’s all correct.”, I praised them. However, having 14 best of breed systems in practice means you have to manage this complexity as well. Your almost 100 interfaces are basically 100 points of failures and apparently they do fail”.

Too much theory, no relation to simple day to day practice!

The next discussions were about “Who of those 14 vendors was to blame?”, “Didn’t we test well enough?”, “Did we put too much pressure on these 14 partners?”, which I basically ignored as much as possible. Appreciating the state of the company these discussions were held at the wrong time by the wrong people.

After all the emotions and blaming the solving part was actually the easiest. “If you guys did everything with the best of breed systems, and according to the best practices available, using different consultants and change-managers, then the issue is simply just that!”, I told the logistics director. A moment of silence and then the acknowledgment followed “Too much theory, no relation to simple day in day practice!”

The next step was…

Do you want to find out how we solved their problems? Stay tuned!

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