By Bruce Tompkins
Partner, Tompkins International

Supply chain network design activities are essential for keeping supply chain operating efficiently and effectively. The days of doing a network design every two or three years is quickly being replaced with a need for frequent, smaller scoped design activities to fine tune performance. Clearly a key point of this process is picking the right tool or tools for evaluating the network.

I sometimes find myself shaking my head in disbelief when I hear about hundreds of hours being spent collecting and analyzing data for a network design that just doesn't need that kind of detail. That is not to say that all network designs can and should be done on the back of a napkin, but common sense must win out and the right tools need to be used for the network being studied.

Ask yourself some simple questions to understand where in the continuum from napkin to advanced simulation model is right for your network design.

  • How complicated is the network design?
  • How many of the puzzle pieces are in effect fixed due to cost or service or capital needs?
  • How well does the past historical transaction data represent the future?
  • What are your real objectives for the network design?
  • When did you last do a network evaluation covering the same part of the supply chain and what were the results?

There are certainly more questions that we could ponder, but hopefully you get the point. Completing a network design and what tools are used are an important decision. Make informed decisions about the right level of tools for your network design. Experts like those at Tompkins International can be your guide for these decisions.