thumb 4 guidelinesWe all have experiences with situations we wish would be different. Short term encounters are easy to walk away from because there's usually little at stake. But longer term relationships, whether in business or in our personal lives are more difficult to walk away from. That doesn't make them any easier to deal with, but it does provide more incentive to make accommodations and look for ways to resolve differences. And the situations can get difficult when one side of the relationship seems to be bullying the other side.

Quality-Risk-ManagementBusinesses must put more effort into pre-planning for business interruption according to a survey by Zurich Insurance and the Business Continuity Institute (BCI). They are concerned about supply chain disruption and term it a "blind spot". We are concerned too. Zurich recommends mapping out your supply chain and quantifying each supplier by financial stability, geopolitical issues, et al. If you have a lot of global suppliers, this could be a tall order. I think Zurich is sitting in an "ivory tower" and not a "SCM Control Tower".

adafruit 67A few months back, we slogged through predictions for trends that would affect businesses in 2013. Many or most of them have already impacted us, particularly those related to mobile technology and the cloud. But the most powerful of all didn't appear on many lists and seems to be getting traction in the business and technology press a bit ahead of the hype curve. 

ChangesTThe economics of EDI are closely connected with the politics of the supply chain. What started as a utility for moving order information between trading partners has become at times, a battlefield over territories and processes. As different companies and groups determine the most advantageous methods for themselves, there is a normal tension between what's best for one and what's good for the overall effort. And at some point the choices can approach a tipping point at which decisions that had been historically unthinkable become more appealing than following the pressures being applied by the dominant forces. Are we approaching a tipping point?

notificationProactive Notification in Supply Chain Management gives us important and instant information on "breaks" in the supply chain. It could be the EDI system unable to process documents, it could be a parts shortage, or it could be a missed transportation appointment. It is more than a simple notification, it allows us to be proactive by fixing the problem or communicating with other "first responders". states that companies have lots of data but no data destination in mind. B2B firms are now collecting more data than ever before: from social media, marketing resource management, customer resource management. But they need to have a strategy.

a3-52 control towerYou are in the process of staffing your SCM Control Tower. This group will be drawn from different areas of your company (different "silos") and different skill sets (for example, a "hazmat" expert). Is your SCM Control Tower going to be a team building melting pot or a boiling cauldron of dis-function. You could draw the brightest and most hard working employees in and outside of your company; but if they don't get along, it could wreck your business.

Omnichannel-1024x508Is ‘omnichannel’ a sea change, or just a clever name for a reality that’s been around for awhile? After consuming dozens of articles on the subject and reflecting on my own experiences, I’d say it’s some of both but predominantly business as usual in the era of ecommerce.

killswitchEDI pricing is one of those things that's hard to pin down. has supported the lowering of costs of EDI since its first issue 10 years ago. We recently posted a story about how GXS intends to stop the practice it calls daisy-chaining, a move that would lower the number of options available to trading partners and likely increase overall costs of using EDI. In another counter-productive move, it seems that the costs of the guidelines for the 6050 specifications will increase in price and require annual 'maintenance fees.' Individually these changes may not seem like a big deal, but are they a trend? And will they have any long term effect on the marketplace? Will the price increases lead for a move away from a pricey X12 to a free and more internationally supported EDIFACT?

CooperationI learned about the three-way match way before I ever heard about EDI. It was done in a large office that had many, many clerks with big stacks of paper all over their desks. I first heard of EDI when I was in Finance and got put on a team to study what we could do with EDI. You guessed right if you said our first and most important project should be the three-way match.