Core practice Areas

The value of the End-to-End approach is that in improving any particular business function, we improve the entire system of processes that must work together. While our primary focus is on the problems that lend themselves to analytical techniques, we have found that our data-driven approach often yields significant benefits in more straight forward blocking-and-tackling efforts as well.



Supply Chain Strategy & Network Design

Supply Chain Strategy, and the closely-related concept of Network Design, refer to how a firm chooses to structure its supply chain in support of its business strategy. This typically involves the following strategic decisions:

  • Number, location, and size of facilities such as plants and distribution centers
  • Choice, number and locations of suppliers
  • Modes of transportation used
  • Location and size of inventory buffers
  • Location of the push/pull boundary
  • Routings: Assignment of products to plants, plants to DCs, DCs to customers, etc.

A further complication is that the “right” supply chain structure can differ markedly by product and/or customer segment, or can change over the course of the product lifecycle. And the right supply chain structure for an individual product may itself be a portfolio of multiple supply chains. (Think of fashion retailers who sometimes combine a low-cost, long lead-time source in the Far East with a higher-cost but more responsive domestic source.)

Over the course of multiple projects in multiple industries we have developed and refined the three-step methodology shown in the image.

We believe that the insight on why a proposed solution is optimal is even more important than the solution itself. Given how fast the conditions change, supply chains cannot be static, and these insights give our customers the ability to monitor their business and adjust and re-visit their decisions accordingly. We also help identify the right level of resilience/responsiveness to changing supply and demand conditions by incorporating uncertainty and its associated costs correctly.

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Forecasting & Planning Processes

Think of all the costs that your company would not have if it could forecast demand perfectly. There would be no lost sales due to inability to meet demand; no excess or obsolete inventory; no rush orders in your factories and no expediting fees paid to suppliers. Your factories could safely operate with longer, lower-cost production runs, and you could safely buy larger lots of materials from suppliers. The time that your people currently spend responding to forecast changes and demand excesses would be saved. Add up all these costs and you have a measure of the total cost of forecast error.

Of course, forecast error can almost never be eliminated. But our experience has shown that improvements of 10-20% are almost always possible, and improvements of up to 50% are not unheard of (see the figure at right for an example from our work). That makes forecasting one of the biggest untapped improvement levers in most companies.

We help clients improve their demand planning performance by:

  • Defining and implementing appropriate forecast accuracy and bias metrics
  • Deploying closed-loop forecast monitoring tools
  • Applying appropriate statistical forecasting techniques (time-series and econometric)
  • Aligning organizational incentives with accurate forecasting
  • Redesigning the demand-supply planning (S&OP) process to ensure that  bottom-up and top-down forecasts

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Inventory Optimization/Management

Inventory is one of supply chains’ insurance policies. Firms invest in safety stock to keep the supply chain running in the face of uncertainty or disruptive events. Adopting good supply chain behaviors minimizes the risk of stocking out without undue investment in working capital and exposure to inventory-driven costs. The firms best skilled at this supply chain equivalent to actuarial science achieve the highest level of customer service for each inventory dollar they invest.

We help our clients quantify the relevant drivers (demand and supply uncertainties, lead times, inventory costs, cost of lost sales, economic order quantities, etc.), understand the tradeoffs, and put in place tools and processes to set targets and manage inventory levels.

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Supply Chain Risk Management

When discussing supply chain “risk”, different people mean different things. For some it means events like earthquakes, industry-wide strikes, or wholesale technological shifts; for others it may simply mean orders being rather higher than expected. We believe it is important to categorize supply chain risk by the amount of uncertainty and the severity of financial impact (see Figure at right).

The key to effective Supply Chain Risk Management (SCRM) is to proactively configure and operate a supply chain to minimize the potential adverse effects of uncertain demand, supply, and pricing. This stands in contrast to the traditional approach of “plan for the forecast; then react”. The techniques used by SCRM to include buffer stocks, burst capacity, secondary sourcing, alternative supply chain networks, the creation of expedited freight options, and structured contracts with suppliers or customers.

End-to-End Analytics’ consultants have successfully deployed SCRM in industries as diverse as Hi-Tech, Automotive, and Consumer Goods.

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