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Religious Wars and Rearguard Fights, How About Peace?

By Bernard Milian

In recent weeks we have seen in France two rather virulent online publications against DDMRP, one stating that “DDMRP is egocentric and short-sighted”, and the other giving a “numerical point of view” on DDMRP, to conclude in short that the methodology was too simplistic.  

I experienced this kind of debate in 2014 when we, and others, introduced and promoted DDMRP in France, and very few implementations had taken place. I can only be astonished that more than 6 years later some of them are still there, ignoring the obvious improvements achieved in implementations. 

We can see this in a positive way. There is no doubt that the two posts I am referring to were made to attract attention and internet traffic to the sites of their publishers, in this case two companies with interests in sales forecasting and APS solutions. That is, to draw attention to them by surfing on the DDMRP craze. Relevant SEO strategy. I will not put in this post links to these publications to avoid giving them more exposure than they deserve.  

Unfortunately, these publications often denote a partial or biased understanding of the methodology, and a profound lack of knowledge of the software solutions on the market, of which the solutions of Demand Driven Technologies, pioneer and leader in this segment.  

Rather than entering into a polemic of specialists and refuting one by one the arguments presented, I can only testify to the rapid and very significant progress of the companies I have had the pleasure of accompanying in their Demand Driven journey over the last few years, and introduce you to some of them. You will then get to know enthusiastic teams, who are delighted with the results of the implementation of new processes and systems. 

Wait a minute, wait a minute. Conquered and delighted users after the implementation of a new IT system? In more than 3 decades where I have been involved in the go live of several ERP and APS systems, I haven’t seen this so often – have you? 

The polarization around DDMRP remains very strange to me. On the one hand there are the unconditional fanatics, who sometimes seem to attribute to the approach virtues that border on the magical… and who invite you to contact them in order to sell you the magic. On the other hand, there are the detractors, who may also have something to sell.    

These “religious wars” within the supply chain community are not new. I started my career in the supply chain in 1985 (yeah, I know, I’m a dinosaur), and I’ve had the opportunity in 35 years to attend or participate in many of these battles. 

My experience is that of a practitioner first and foremost – I have spent 29 years in supply chain responsibilities in multinational industrial companies. I have been involved in introducing MRP, S&OP, MPS, sales forecasting, Kanban, Lean, constraint management, 6 sigma, and each time it has been a battle to convince, often against self-proclaimed specialists. 

I’ve had my fill of religious wars. “You have to stop looking in the rear-view mirror and drive on forecasts”, “Dependent demand must be calculated, not forecast”, “Lean is in place, you have to disconnect the MRP calculation”, “Forecasts are worthless, you only have to use the actual demand”, to take just a few of the adages I have come across. 

Throughout my operational career, I have endeavored to experiment with my teams and to adopt pragmatically what works. I have moved to the dark side of consulting over the last 6 years, but the companies I have accompanied will probably testify to the same pragmatism without dogmatism.  

I have acquired some convictions along the way. For example: 

  • Pull flow is better than push flow.
  • Forecasts are wrong but useful at an aggregate level.
  • The human factor is essential in the management of a supply chain.
  • S&OP is a key process, if it is based on the evaluation of scenarios.  

When I discovered DDMRP at the beginning of 2014, what won me over was its ecumenical side: at the heart of the methodology is a combination of good practices developed over the years in the field of Lean, TOC, MRP etc. DDMRP makes it a coherent, accessible and understandable framework for our teams, equipped in terms of software, training and implementation processes. My experience is that it allows us to carry out in 6 months / one year in-depth transformations that took me 3 to 5 years of effort and 10 times the costs to implement in the companies whose supply chain I was managing…  

Over the last 6 years many companies and supply chain experts have joined the Demand Driven movement. Debates are welcome, the dedicated LinkedIn groups are there for that. If you are convinced that it is now more than ever essential for companies to adapt to an increasingly VUCA environment, bring your contribution, let’s improve together the model and the tools, but let’s not throw anathema. 

DDMRP and the DDAE model is a great accelerator of transformation, let’s stop sterile backroom squabbles and help our companies to prosper and get through crises, let’s leave the haters to Facebook or Twitter, they are useless in operations management.  

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