As a long time, SAP practitioner (20+ years) with lots of experience in the Logistics Information System (LIS) space, I am astonished and shocked at the optimization opportunities that have been revealed to me by Reveal using Logistics Information System (LIS) data. I am calling this epiphany "Buried Treasure" given that very few companies are aware that they possess this gold mine and even fewer, are leveraging it to improve and reduce their Operating Cost. I realize that no one consultant knows all the functionality within a given module especially since the functionality keeps evolving. With all the emphasis on Cost Reduction over my entire career, how could I not even be aware of these capabilities?
My introduction to LIS started when a colleague returned from an SAP LIS training class convinced that she was the wrong person for implementing a Sales Forecasting solution using LIS. To make a long story short, the LIS training manuals were handed to me and I was now responsible for implementing Sales Forecasting. Through my journey of developing and implementing a solution that was acceptable to the business, every now and then, I would deviate from my primary task. Instead of evaluating the content of the Standard LIS Structures and graph, it did it occur to me that it was communicating so much information. I even recall looking for documentation in an effort to gain some insight into the data be in.
After my implementation of the Sales Forecasting solution using LIS, a colleague and I returned to an SAP training session on LIS to determine if there was any further functionality we could leverage for the corporation we represented. My colleague was responsible for Sales Reporting using LIS to fulfill the requirements given to her. Unfortunately, we did not gain any new knowledge, and in fact, we spent a lot of time answering questions from the other students and consultants. Let's just say that my colleague kept the instructor honest with his answers. Although, I left that employer twenty years ago, and my colleague who accompanied me to the LIS Training session is now retired. Even today, I wonder if that client ever used the standard LIS functionality to aid with any kind of optimization?
How Are You Optimizing Your Inventory Levels?
Prior to joining Reveal, a previous client provided LIS training to their staff. I attended one of the sessions and I can attest that the training session did not come remotely close to explaining how to use the data to improve their business. At that time, I was thinking that if the information being presented did not register with me, how in hell, was any of the other participants (all new to SAP) going to appreciated what was being explained to them. In addition, there wasn't much data for them to evaluate since they had not even gone live yet. A few months later they went live and I recall attempting to use LIS to answer a question the business had. We quickly concluded LIS could not be the answer to the question due to the fact that the information was summarized into a month bucket. The irony is that this same client had a huge problem where they had too much inventory and yet they were shutting down production lines due to missing components. No one, including my previous client, ever recommended using LIS to optimize their inventory levels.
What Was Left Buried?
The one thing that holds true for all my clients is that they were all looking for ways to improve their business by focusing on various KPI's. I have been fortunate enough to work for Industrial Engineers during my formative years where I learn to appreciate that measurements are required to drive improvements. For this reason, I still cannot believe the value that was left buried in Inventory all because I/we did not know what was buried within Standard LIS.