How LLamasoft Is Designing Success For Customers’ Supply Chains

Ann Arbor, Michigan-based supply chain design software business LLamasoft is considered one of the fastest growing technology companies in North America. The company was founded by Don Hicks and Toby Brzoznowski in the late 1990s, and offers a number of innovative solutions that help some of the world’s best-known brands make smarter, faster decisions about their supply chain operations.

Its flagship software, Supply Chain Guru, is used for optimizing and simulating supply chain network operations and modeling potential changes based on performance, costs and risks. Last year, LLamasoft released Supply Chain Guru X, the newest generation of its software, which enables companies to build living models of their end-to-end supply chains. Customers can easily visualize inefficiencies, optimize for significant improvements in cost, service and risk, and test hundreds of potential scenarios for continuous supply chain improvement and innovation. Also released was Demand Guru, a new solution that empowers companies to improve their supply chain design and strategic business initiatives by incorporating powerful causative demand modeling.

In 2012, LLamasoft raised $6 million in funding, led by MK Capital. Nike also became a strategic investment partner that year, taking a minority share in October. Jumping forward to 2015, LLamasoft had a big year – acquiring IBM’s LogicTools supply chain applications business, raising $50 million in Series B funding from Goldman Sachs to fund expansion and R&D, and acquiring South Africa-based Barloworld.

Several months ago, TPG Capital, the investment group behind companies like Uber, McAfee and Airbnb, invested over $200 million in LLamasoft after seeing great promise in the company and fully understanding the value its technology delivers to customers.

Today, LLamasoft counts among its 700 customers companies such as Michael Kors, Land O’ Lakes, Johnson & Johnson, and Wayfair. The company estimates that it signs 30 to 40 new clients per quarter. When I asked Brzoznowski if he could share some of LLamasoft’s customer success stories, he pointed out a few recent examples of customer use cases including Michael Kors, U.S. Silica, Hewlett-Packard and Johnson & Johnson.

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NFL Draft Lessons for Supply Chain Managers

Just like with successful football game play, having a well-developed modal selection strategy helps organizations defend against capacity concerns and score points for their bottom line by lowering transportation costs.

Every year, the NFL draft provides coaches an opportunity to re-evaluate their teams and supplement their current roster with new players to fill skill or position gaps and prepare their franchise for the future.

In a similar way, supply chain managers have the opportunity, on an ongoing basis, to review their transportation portfolio to ensure they have the right modes and processes in play to not only address the demands and the environment of today, but to face the challenges of tomorrow.

Read on to learn three important lessons supply chain leaders can learn from this year’s NFL Draft and how it applies to calling winning plays for their organization’s transportation network.

The Challenge for Supply Chain Managers

Much like NFL coaches, supply chain managers find themselves having to balance short and long term demands. Managing the demand between these two competing forces is fueled by:

  1. Ongoing disruptions: Whether on the football field or in the supply chain, disruptions can and will occur. It can be easy when everything goes according to plan, but when volatility and the unexpected cause disruption (and they always do) supply chain managers have to have a backup plan.
  2. Short-term cost-savings still primary focus: Organizations are still pressing supply chain managers to deliver more value and additional cost savings. According to a survey completed by Georgia College and the University of Tennessee, 36.7% of shippers listed reducing costs as their first priority in 2015, up from 32.2% in 2016.

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4 ways retailers can improve supply chain management

Retailers and their suppliers are under more pressure than ever before to deliver more goods to more destinations faster.

To stay competitive, “retailers need to know where things are at all times so they can redirect shipments, rebalance inventories and respond to new demands on the fly,” says Rich Becks, general manager, Industry Value Chains, E2open, which delivers cloud-based supply chain collaboration solutions.

And if there is a problem with their supply chain, and they can’t get products to stores and/or consumers, retailers (and their suppliers) risk losing customers.

So what steps can, and should, retailers take to make sure their supply chain operations are running smoothly? Following are four suggestions from retail supply chain experts.

1. Use cloud-based software that can track and manage inventory in real time.

“Retailers struggle to balance uncertain consumer behavior and long, complex supply chains,” explains Kurt Cavano, vice chairman & CSO, GT Nexus, a supply chain technology company.

2. Use source tagging and RFID to keep track of inventory and stock levels.

“To improve supply chain management from the moment product leaves the manufacturer’s warehouse all the way through to the point-of-purchase, retailers should deploy a source tagging solution,” says Steve Sell, director, North America Marketing, Retail Practice, Tyco Integrated Security.

3. Become a part of a B2B e-procurement network.

“B2B [or e-procurement] networks can help companies predict supply chain disruptions and act quickly to adapt business processes,” says Sundar Kamakshisundaram, vice president, Procurement and Business Network Solutions, Ariba, an SAP company.

4. Make sure your marketing and supply chain teams are in sync.

“When executing a promotion, a lot of retailers overlook the alignment of the supply chain and marketing teams, which is crucial [if you want] to successfully launch a promotion,” says Pat Sullivan, senior vice president, Promotions Management, HAVI Global Solutions, a consulting company.

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