SAILS (Strategic Analysis of Integrated Logistics Systems), is the industry reference standard for supply chain strategy analysis. It is equipped with a proprietary, powerful optimization engine, an exceptionally easy to use interface, a host of built-in databases, extensive data analysis and preparation options, comprehensive reporting capabilities, and powerful scenario generation features. It is designed to comprehensively address the classic network design questions: the number, location, size, ownership and mission of raw material suppliers, manufacturing facilities, production processes, distribution centers, cross-docks, pool points, ports, and so on, and associated commodity flows. In addition, it is an ideal tool for addressing related issues such as strategic sourcing, supply chain vulnerability/hardening, capacity planning, supply chain capital investment planning, mergers and acquisitions, inventory strategy, transportation policy, green supply chains, and customer, channel and product profitability. It explicitly incorporates all relevant costs: procurement, manufacturing, transportation, warehousing, port handling, inventory, duties, and taxes, as well as all applicable capacity limits: procurement, manufacturing, throughput, storage, etc. with the objective of either minimizing costs or maximizing profits.
When you stop to think carefully about supply chain strategy, are you sometimes intimidated by the sheer complexity of the problem? How do you evaluate the myriad alternatives, fit together the pieces, and balance the competing objectives of many players both inside and outside the firm? Should you consider (or reconsider) outsourcing? New inventory deployment strategies? New consolidation strategies? Manufacturing postponement? Focused plants? Cross-docking in lieu of traditional distribution centers? New port and land bridge options? How should supply chain vulnerability and risk be assessed? What combination of facilities, missions, flows and service maximizes profit? Which markets, channels, and products are most profitable? How can supply chain and marketing strategies be unified so as to maximize corporate return to equity?
For most firms today the most important driver of financial success is identifying and implementing a superior supply chain strategy. Cardinal Health, Clorox, Dell, IBM, Procter & Gamble, and Wal Mart, among many others, are all fundamentally supply chain success stories. In turn, supply chain strategy depends critically on supply chain design. And once the macro design is in place, it must be implemented with complementary inventory and transportation strategies.
Even today, many executives equate supply chain strategy and design with the number, location, size and mission of distribution centers. Consider the possibilities when this outdated, myopic view is replaced with a contemporary list of issues:
- Facility location & size
- Facility capability
- Global sourcing analysis
- Capacity planning & budgeting
- Distribution methods and policies
- Make vs. Buy
- Seasonality & growth analysis
- Inventory Analysis
- Cost vs. service tradeoffs
Are you surprised by the scope? Does this remind you of the front page of the Wall Street Journal? You are not alone. Note especially that it covers the entire supply chain, from raw material supplier to final customer, and integrates traditional corporate silos such as procurement, manufacturing, and finished goods distribution. Perhaps the most important issue is profitability: identifying those markets, channels, and products that provide maximum margin. And for the first time it is now possible to go the final step: integrating the traditionally separate marketing and supply chain perspectives into a unified, coherent, corporate strategy that maximizes return to shareholder equity.