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Christmas In February

By Art van Bodegraven | 11/09/2015 | 9:06 AM

We've survived another holiday season, slightly bloodied by the PC Wars, and still limping a bit from tripping over a late-breaking demand surprise. Both popularly and within the supply chain profession, we talk about the coming crunch, the inavailability of transport capacity, and sundry seasonal issues.

What many of us forget, don't know, or pay little attention to is the actuality of how long the season really is. It is a convenient shorthand to focus on the movement of a humongous percentage of the year's business in the 30-60-day window around the holidays formerly known as Thanksgiving and Christmas.

Being effective in-season, demands, though, very nearly year-round planning, preparation, and execution in a multitude of dimensions. See, the foundational processes need to begin immediately following the old season's close, building from the recently-experienced learnings involved.  It's not nearly just about corralling how ever many temp workers for a month or two.  That's important; what's more important is building the semi-permanent relationships with seasonal workforce resources, which is an on-going process.

But, you need to start figuring out how many you'll need come next season. Then, plan the hiring ramp, and design training, along with a plan to make the workforce ready to roll in time. Major new SKUs and product families must be understood months in advance. Space - forward picking and reserve - needs to be estimated and planned. Then, there is the question of whether you'll need a transition plan to clear out old season merchandise, and sequence the integration of high season goods.

More questions. Are your systems scalable for expected volumes? Will you need more automation and material handling equipment? Is there a need for pre-season temporary storage. What is the contingency plan for breakdowns, late inbound shipments, demand spikes. Is added recirculation capacity needed? How are order profiles likely to change?

The list could go on - and on. The point is: Make a comprehensive plan; fire-drill test it. Tweak processes months in advance of needs.

The price of failure is too great to put off the hard work of getting ready for the harder work.



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About Art van Bodegraven

Art van Bodegraven

Art van Bodegraven (1939 - 2017) was Managing Principal of the van Bodegraven Associates consultancy and Founding Principal of Discovery Executive Services, which develops and delivers supply chain educational programs. He was formerly Chair of the Supply Chain Group AG, Partner at The Progress Group LLC, Development Executive at CSCMP, Practice Leader with S4 Consulting, and a Managing Director in Coopers & Lybrand's consulting practice. Concentrating in supply chain management and logistics for over 20 years in his 50+ year business career, he has led ground-breaking strategic, operational, and educational projects for leading US and global clients. Art was principal co-author of DC Velocity's Basic Training monthly column for a decade, and was the principal co-author, with Ken Ackerman, of Fundamentals of Supply Chain Management, the definitive primer in the field. His popular blog, The Art of Art, has been a staple of DC Velocity's web site since its inception.


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