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Trip Report: LLamasoft EMEA Regional User Group and Optilon Conference

By Phil Gibbs  September 16, 2015

At the beginning of the month LLamasoft headed to Scandinavia to participate in the Optilon Supply Chain Conference as well as host a meeting of the LLamasoft EMEA User Group. Both events were a huge success and included presentations from Ericsson, Syngenta, Unilever and more. We are always happy to get together with customers in a Regional User Group to discuss best practices, challenges and more as we continue to grow the supply chain design community. While much was covered during the event, there were some reoccurring trends and highlights that resonated throughout the presentations and discussions.

Trend/Insight One: Global versus Regional Teams

As supply chain design is being more widely adopted as an ongoing business process, the tools are being utilized to handle different types of analyses within different business units and different regions. While in the past there may have been one modeler or a small team managing small projects, the use of design is now so widespread that we are finding many of our customers throughout EMEA are now developing two teams – teams that focus on regional, tactical projects and those that focus on much larger, global analysis and strategy. Ericsson discussed how these teams were deployed and how they evolved over time. When they began to utilize supply chain design, Ericsson first operated in team silos, then expanded into developing a supply chain design center of excellence and now have a global team with an overarching strategy. However, they also stressed how important it was to dive into the detail on projects focused on just a single region.  The importance of having both the tactical and strategic teams in place cannot be stressed enough. In order for the region to be successful, the larger strategy must exist, but the strategy cannot succeed without smart decisions being made at the regional level. Unilever had a great saying to sum this up: “Think Global, Act Local”.

Product Manager Rebecca Koke providing a LLamasoft product update.

Product Manager Rebecca Koke providing a LLamasoft product update.

Trend/Insight Two: Taxes and Duties, Risk Assessment and Other Considerations for Global Businesses

As the marketplace becomes more global, organizations must keep up. They must reassess the types of models they run, scenarios they measure and factors they consider when devising a supply chain strategy. Taxes and duties implications vary from country to country and the impact of trade zones can overrule what would otherwise seems like a fairly clear-cut network strategy. Many organizations are now incorporating taxes and duties into their models so that they are considered as part of strategy development. Additionally, the presenters discussed the benefits of utilizing scenario analyses to adopt the best strategy to mitigate risks. This could take the form of determining the right number of assets to meet service levels at different levels of activity using transportation optimization, as was the case with Digitalis with their project in Turkey, to running a host of scenarios to test the robustness of a strategy, as presented by Optilon and others. By assessing risks within the safe confines of a model, and making adjustments to avoid them, customers cited huge savings in cost and service.

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Kicking off the day’s sessions.

Trend/Insight Three: Start Small and Grow From There

One reoccurring theme from all of the customer presentations was when getting started with supply chain modeling begin with one project that is valuable to the business and is within the capabilities of the team, then grow from there. A pilot project is an excellent way to gain an understanding of the baseline, learn the capabilities of the tool and deliver some results to stakeholders. By learning about tradeoffs in scenarios in a pilot project, it makes the use of scenario analysis more clear and can drive the direction of initiatives and goals. Unilever, one of the world’s largest consumer packaged goods companies, stressed the value of the baseline model as the jumping off point for any number of the concurrent projects that are running at a given time.  They also stressed the importance of developing a standardized approach to projects as more and more people in the organization become involved.

Networking at the User Group.

Networking at the User Group.

Despite my years in the industry, I am always inspired to see the various ways LLamasoft customers use our supply chain design platform to address business challenges to reach goals. To learn more about events with LLamasoft and networking opportunities with other supply chain and logistics professionals, visit the Supply Chain Events page.