Accenture Academy Blog


We’re in the thick of the holiday season and I’m sure that many of you are ready to say goodbye (or good riddance) to 2009. Before we start up the chorus of Auld Lang Syne, perhaps there’s still time to email your wish list to Santa. You know, old Saint Nick is the original just-in-time logistics guru and may be able to fulfill your last minute supply chain improvement requests. What’s on your list?

Here’s a letter that I imagine was recently received at North Pole…

Dear Santa:

Ralphie Parker here. You know, the Red Ryder BB Gun kid. I’m grown up and work as the logistics director for a large manufacturer. Although Christmas is mainly for children, I hope that you can take care of me. I’ve worked very hard this year, kept a good attitude, and met all my cost targets while maintaining excellent service levels. This should qualify me for the “good” category and a gift or two.

The gifts aren’t personally for me—that’d create some ethics issues. It’s more of a supply chain wish list. We need some performance boosting tools for 2010. Any help you can provide is greatly appreciated.

 1. Cross-border assistance—as a global toy distributor, you understand global logistics issues. We need help in this area as I learned when reading How Enterprises and Trading Partners Gain from Global Trade Management. Those sharp professors at Stanford University project some tremendous savings but I need GTM tools. Check out the table from the report and you’ll see the real benefit potential.

2.  Efficiency and cost management resources—just like the participants in a recent
Eye for Transport survey, we need to focus on time and money savingtechnology tools. Given the cost of moving freight, a new Transportation Management System would fit the bill (the software-as-a-service version would do just fine). Even some software to help us adopt best practices in freight audit and control will help my efforts.


  Visibility tools—you, of all people, recognize the importance of demand and supply chain visibility. We need exception management tools, dashboards, and sensor technologies to leverage information from multiple transactional systems. A recent
Retail Industry Leaders Association sponsored study indicates that these tools will enhance the frequency and the granularity of the data we receive.

4.  Risk management capabilities—my team operates in a reactionary fashion. We must become proactive and I think that scenario planning could help our supply chain. According to a recent SupplyChainDigest article, it can be used in conjunction with our supply chain network design, strategic Sales and Operations Planning (S&OP), and planning and procurement strategies tools. 

I realize that these are major last minute requests. If I have missed your IT budget cycle, a couple of technology stocking stuffers would suffice.


iPhone. I know what you’re thinking, but it’s not just a tech toy—it’s about productivity. There are actually some logistics apps for mobile devices and I can listen to SCM podcasts on it.

Amazon Kindle. Really, it’s a sustainable way (no printing or shipping) to real-time access the Wall Street Journal, The Economist, and business books. Hence, it’s a career building tool.

Tesla Roadster. The keys to this high tech vehicle would fit in the stocking nicely. Though it offers no supply chain value, I would arrive at work in style and with a great attitude. That would boost my productivity each day.

Best of luck with your upcoming night of expedited deliveries! With all your SCM expertise, you should write a book.






P.S. I didn’t shoot my eye out!


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