Qualcomm found that its old planning solution didn't permit the rapid response or the ability to scale required to meet volatility of demand, says Tom Tael, the company's senior manager for business processes.
Growth in itself is change, but when it is as "explosive" as Qualcomm's has been over the past 25 years, other changes have to be made. That's where responsiveness, flexibility and scalability come in, says Tael. You need those abilities to remain competitive.
Tael says he sees the challenge as two-pronged. First, a technology company has to to deliver innovative products; in Qualcomm's case, to the wireless industry. Qualcomm's suppliers are key elements of that process. Second, you have to be able to fill the demand. And again, the supply network has a key role in that. Suppliers must be capable of meeting rapid ramp-ups in orders. Equally, one's partners must be able to respond just as quickly when demand dips.
World-class supply chains have the information, the processes and the right people on board to make the needed adjustments, says Tael.
Making decisions faster was in large part why Qualcomm opted to move from one planning solution to RapidResponse from Kinaxis. "We were really challenged with responsiveness, flexibility and scalability." Qualcomm initially deployed the solution solely on the demand side; later it integrated it into its supply operations as well.
Tael says very close relationships have been established with its fab partners, and those in its sub-assembly and test houses. Information sharing is "very tight." Moreover, responsibilities are defined and clear. All parties know exactly what is expected of them on a daily, weekly or monthly basis.
What-if analysis is performed daily, he says. "The ability to respond to unplanned demands is fundamental. These demands represent opportunities to our customers. We certainly want to be able to support those opportunities to today and tomorrow.
"The market has gotten more competitive. You're being asked to provide faster, quicker, more accurate responses in a shorter amount of time. So it's fundamental to where we are today, and we only see that requirement getting faster, more rigorous tomorrow."
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