Planning as a Service for the Service Supply Chain

Although most of the discussion around inventory planning is centered on the tools used to balance inventory and service levels, the skills and expertise to manage this function are also critical. Start-up companies and mid-size enterprises struggle to find resources with the required insight and experience. Even large companies may not find enough qualified people to plan and forecast their supply chain requirements.

Baxter Planning understands these organizational challenges and disparities. Working with clients of every size, Baxter offers a range of services, from traditional Software as a Service (SaaS), where your staff controls the planning process, to Planning as a Service, where inhouse Baxter experts perform planning activities on your behalf.

Supply Chain Planning Complexity

Supply chain planning is not a new concept: the function was identified in the early 20th century with the creation of the assembly line. Materials needed to be sourced and collected at a central point to start the manufacturing process. Even as Ford Motor Company, Boeing, DEC, IBM, and other legacy leaders employed supply chain planning to consolidate resources for automobile, airplane, and high technology production, supply chain planning was not a core competency. Over time, targeted solutions evolved – from MRP (materials resource planning), to DRP (Distribution Resource Planning) and ERP (enterprise resource planning) to SCM (supply chain management).

During the evolution of supply chain planning, it became apparent that skills gained in one industry or aspect of planning are not always transferable to another industry or area. “Just-in-Time” manufacturing supply chain planning processes and core metrics are significantly different than those required for retail supply chain planning or “Just-inCase” service supply chain planning.

The nuances and intricacies of inventory planning are particularly magnified in the service supply chain, where variable product lifecycles, service contract options, part supersession requirements, defective returns and repair planning within a global logistics network must be considered. These variables along with the complex logistics networks required to make spare parts available same- or next-day to field service technicians create unique challenges for planning a Service Supply Chain.

Find out for yourself how Baxter can optimize your service supply chain inventory.

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Planning as a Service

Today, only a fraction of companies have sufficient internal supply chain planning experts to manage all aspects of their supply chain. To magnify this issue, many do not have the mature recruiting, training processes, and career paths required to build and retain superior talent to effectively manage the supply chain. This issue is particularly relevant in the service supply chain where managing thousands of part numbers across hundreds of locations is not feasible via manual processes. In an article title “Forecasting a Supply Chain Talent ‘Perfect Storm’”, SupplyChain 24/7 cited this issue, stating that in addition to a smaller pool of potential professionals available for the future, the growing skills gap is exacerbated by the transition from an industrial economy to an information/service economy.

By partially or completely outsourcing service planning activities to Baxter’s experienced practitioners, your staff can focus on their main business functions and meet their service objectives faster and more cost effectively.

The Risks of Constrained Target Stock Levels

Clients using Baxter’s SaaS solution to plan service parts inventory using in-house personnel are able to gain the insight they need to reduce inventories and improve service levels. Incremental Planning as a Service benefits include:

  • Variable cost for planning expertise
  • Reduce/remove fixed costs and infrastructure
  • Accelerate capabilities and expansion
  • Improve performance

Depending on internal capabilities, clients may choose to completely outsource, partially outsource, or employ Baxter’s experts for training and mentoring. Through regular performance analysis, mentoring provides proactive client support to identify issues before they occur and recommend solutions.

Inventory Optimization, Service Supply Chain