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Planning for the unexpected versus “just-in-time”-planning


The present crisis has shown examples of governments that have relied on just in time-planning which has brought them in a situation of lacking medical supplies – and a few governments, like the Finnish government, who has a fully prepared emergency stock to withstand the crisis situation that we are in now.

Like the respective governments that are now fighting for the scarce supply of medical supplies still available and those few governments whose stockpiles are full, I see a pattern with companies that have decided that PLM is the solution to their business problems.

Too many PLM-venturing companies focus on immediate needs. Like the health and medical care systems throughout Europe who have built their medical supply around “just in time” deliveries, with hospitals stocking supplies to last only two or three days, these companies forget to plan for the unexpected.


Solving immediate needs versus solving future needs

I have seen the following pattern repeat itself many times over. Company A looks at immediate needs, identifies the biggest problem being how their Bill of Materials is currently handled and decides to solve that problem with a BOM management system. Problem solved? Not really.

Because when the next degree of business problems occurs, Company A realizes that their BOM management solution is not equipped to solve these problems. Then the quality department in Company A needs a Quality Management System. But when planning the new solution for the quality department, Company A does not consider proper collaboration between departments, failing to include R&D and other relevant departments in the process.

Company A ends up with a solution that is working as expected and solves the problems during year 1. But what about year 2, year 5?


Quickfix after quick-fix after…

What Company A – like many PLM venturing companies – has failed to do is to analyze the full complexity of the business problems they are trying to solve. They rely instead on “just-in-time” problem-solving, by acquiring tools that act as quick-fix solutions to their immediate needs.

Failing to consider long-terms needs – and continue down the “just-in-time”-path will result in patchwork solutions, waste of time and resources, and quite a lot of frustration.


Keep calm and have a holistic approach

PLM-venturing companies need to stop the narrow practice of optimizing small parts of their company. Instead, look at the entire value chain and solve those problems that affects the entire value chain.

My advice is therefore: Stop treating your company as if it was made of silos. You need to understand how one department’s problem is affecting other departments to be able to find the right solution.

About the author

Leon Lauritsen

Leon has worked with multiple IT systems from ERP to BI and PLM. His experience ranges all the way from programming to business consulting, project management and business development. Leon started his career in IT development and has further earned a diploma in IT and Economics at Copenhagen Business School and an Executive MBA at Henley Management College.  

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