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Employee Spotlight: Neeti Agarwal

Neeti Agarwal has been an Akilian for over 5 years, working remotely in Boston! While we don’t get to see her in the office everyday, Neeti fully embodies the Akili culture, serving as a mentor and a solution leader within the organization.

Tell us more about your role and what you like most about it.

I am a Solution Architect at Akili and that means I get to work on SAP BPC and Anaplan projects. The best part about my job is that it never gets boring. Every project has a new set of challenges and there are many creative ways to solve different problems, so it keeps things interesting.

What drew you to Akili? Is Akili what was described to you and what you expected?

I was drawn to Akili by its culture. It’s one of those places where titles and hierarchy don’t define you. Everyone is encouraged to share their ideas and people are valued for what they bring to the table. It creates a very open, relaxed atmosphere, which is great for introverts like me because I can walk up to anyone and ask for help or speak what’s on my mind.

What’s your favorite Akili memory?

I will never forget the first time I visited the Akili office. I was quite anxious to be in a new office and working with a new project team, but everyone was so nice and helpful that I immediately felt at home. Since then, every time I visit the office it feels like being among friends.

What makes Akili stand out from the rest?

Akili is a unique company because of its people, its culture and its core values. Our leadership team values all employees and treats people as they want to be treated themselves. As a result, you have an amazing group of people working in an environment that is fun, collaborative and challenging.

What are 3 career lessons you’ve learned thus far?

  1. Always be professional and nice. It’s a very small world and you never know who you may end up working with again.
  2. A healthy work-life balance is crucial to being happy. I feel happy at work when I’m happy with myself and a big part of that is making time for both work and personal activities as much as possible.
  3. There’s something to be learned every day. With changing technologies, workplaces are constantly evolving. So, always be ready to absorb new information.

What advice do you have for prospective candidates?

  1. Consider what is important to you when selecting a company. Evaluate the culture, benefits, and long-term growth opportunities and then decide which place checks most of the boxes on your list.
  2. Titles don’t bring happiness.
  3. Being open to adapt and change opens a lot more opportunities.

What has been the most important innovation you have witnessed in your lifetime?

Cellphones. I remember when I first got my mobile phone and how delighted I was that it had a backlight keyboard and 10 different ringtones! I used it only for calls and messages and now I cannot imagine my life without a phone. How did we do anything 10 years ago?

How do you like to spend your free time / what are you passionate about?

My soon-to-be one year old soaks up all the “free” time these days. I love spending time with my family and friends. When the weather is nice, I love being outdoors, close to nature, whether it’s hiking, nature walks or scenic drives. My “me” time is taken up by books. I love reading historic fiction or autobiographical novels.

Motto or personal mantra?

“Life is 10% what happens to you and 90% how you react to it” – Charles R. Swindoll

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MRP/MPS/APS with Anaplan // Anaplan for Manufacturing

By Dyci Sfregola | Business Planning Consultant

In a world where operations and production optimization require strategic functions like planning, scheduling, ordering, and materials distribution, supply chain planners can only put so much faith into modern-day ERP systems. In an effort to digitize and automate the supply chain, many organizations have turned to Advanced Planning Systems (APS) that can be used as an extension to and in conjunction with ERP systems. APS coupled with ERP provides an avenue for supply chain planners, specifically production planners and managers, to make better strategic decisions as it pertains to improving manufacturing and production thanks to improved visibility throughout the supply chain network and across planning horizons.

APS implementations consistently lead to improved delivery performance, boosts in profits, reduction in inventory and costs, and improved ROI. Organizations can quickly realize time-to-value with the production planning phase of their supply chain transformation by leveraging Anaplan’s flexibility, scalability, and calculation engine as their Advanced Planning System, more specifically as it related to material requirements planning (MRP), distribution requirements planning (DRP), and master production scheduling (MPS).

Akili’s implementation experience with Anaplan for manufacturing and supply chain includes use cases in demand management and inventory planning, capacity control, what-if analysis, master scheduling, rough cut capacity planning, and more. These implementations have exposed the possibilities of developing robust MRP solutions on the Anaplan platform. If we consider the evolution of MRP software from MRP to closed-loop MRP to manufacturing resource planning (MRP II), we can identify the following three goals as the main objectives of today’s MRP II solutions:

  1. Ensure materials are available for production and products are available for delivery to customers
  2. Maintain the lowest possible material and product levels
  3. Plan manufacturing activities, delivery schedules and purchasing activities

The most advanced MRP II tools are able to:

  1. Plan in units and dollars
  2. Support scenario planning and what-if analysis
  3. Provide visibility of material and capacity requirements
  4. Provide detailed activity information and translate activities to financial statements
  5. Suggest ways to bring activities back into line with planned priorities
  6. Integrate with long-term business and operational planning like S&OP

Since Anaplan doesn’t have a standard, one-size-fits-all out-of-the-box solution, organizations are able to create a custom solution that supports all of the aforementioned functionality. Additionally, with the information from the MPS & BOM and inventory status & planning factors, it is also possible to use Anaplan to develop a complete schedule for ordering and delivering all of the components and materials necessary to create the finished goods in the master schedule. The MPS produced by Anaplan, with the approval of planners, can include all required MRP outputs: planned order releases, and exception reports, creating a solution that contributes to increased competitive advantage and supply chain excellence.

Here are some highlights of what we’ve experienced and implemented with Anaplan for manufacturing and APS:

  1. The Anaplan platform best supports organizations that operate within the context of repetitive manufacturing with consistent routing files and planning procedures
  2. Lot-for-lot / Just in Time (JIT) scheduling and fixed order quantity replenishment can be achieved
  3. Native Anaplan list hierarchies and properties can be leveraged to execute offsetting and pegging
  4. Planning revisions can be suggested and highlighted for planners with time fence and business rule considerations
  5. Anaplan’s calculation engine effectively supports what-if analysis and scenario planning based on user inputs
  6. Network-wide supply chain feedback loops are supported by Anaplan’s Connected Planning platform with:
  • Workflows and approvals
  • Planning dashboards and user roles
  • Email notifications

Click here to learn how real customers are using Anaplan for their manufacturing operations to realize increased profits and reduce costs while maintaining customer service levels.

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Best Practices for Inventory Management and Control with Anaplan

By Dyci Sfregola | Business Planning Consultant

Arguably, one of the most important functions of supply chain management is effective inventory management and control. When managed correctly, inventory can be considered an investment, resulting in a significant improvement on ROI. Organizations with mature, well-defined inventory management policies recognize that inventory management is a collaborative activity executed across several roles and business units, including purchasing, manufacturing, finance, and sales and marketing, with the ultimate goal of having adequate material where needed at a low inventory cost, effectively balancing the cost of production with the cost of inventory, and maintaining sufficient inventory to meet customer expectations. Once the proper data, people and processes are in place, organizations can evaluate the technology needed to support strategic decision making.

With experience of Anaplan implementation as a software solution for inventory management, we’ve come up with a few considerations and best practices for inventory management and control as it relates to software implementations.

Establish an Inventory Management Policy

In order to realize Anaplan’s full capabilities and value, the business processes and rules that drive the modeling and math for inventory planning must be properly developed and documented. An inventory policy should address both broad (e.g. centralized vs. decentralized inventory planning, communication frequency and warehouse geographic locations) and specific inventory management decisions (e.g. make vs. buy decisions for specific items and rules for order quantities, timing and exception management).

More generally speaking, inventory policies that should specify:

  • When to order inventory
  • How to determine order size
  • Relative importance of each inventory item (usually achieved with ABC classification or inventory segmentation)
  • Inventory control procedures for individual items or product families

Inventory policies should be influenced by and created with the following factors in mind:

  • Customer demand
  • Planning horizons
  • Lead times including production and transit lead times
  • Costs associated with inventory like purchase and transportation costs as well as any applicable holding costs
  • Customer service requirements to help determine safety stock levels by item, segment, location as needed

Weighing these factors will help to create an effective inventory management policy that can inform Anaplan inventory calculations, suggestions and reporting based on required safety stock levels and order system policies (e.g. lot-for-lot vs. economic order quantity (EOQ) vs. fixed order quantity (FOQ) and order point system vs. time-phased order point system vs. demand driven MRP system).

Connect and Collaborate

The necessity for visibility and collaboration across the supply chain network cannot be overstated when it comes to inventory management. In today’s horizontal supply chains, inventory processing and control often extend beyond the enterprise. Inventory will either feed into production, be a result of production, or both, so planners, master planners, and production schedulers must coordinate with each other at each level of production planning. Furthermore, inventory management is necessary at retail locations and warehouses and distribution centers, which can be owned by the organization or outsourced to 3PL partners. Supply chains must also manage and control in-transit inventory, raw material and work-in-progress inventory being held and produced at suppliers. With all of these moving pieces and data points, it is critical to have a technology solution like Anaplan that supports connected planning across the entire network, including external partner data and inputs, in order to truly realize the benefits of proper inventory management and control.

Monitor and Measure

There are two KPI categories that should be consistently monitored when it comes to inventory management:

  1. Inventory costs, which can be related to holding, ordering, and transporting materials, supplies, and finished goods at various nodes of the supply chain.
  2. Customer service targets related to quality, item availability, order accuracy and on-time delivery

Cost monitoring is both an art and a science that should involve input and insights from Finance. While too little inventory can lead to stockouts and increased expedite costs, too much inventory can have a negative financial impact due to write-offs of obsolete and expired inventory. Constant analysis and evaluation of supplier scorecards, transportation and warehouse costs and partner performance is key to ensuring inventory costs and customer service targets are consistently achieved.

Refine your S&OP Process

Anaplan’s calculation engine provides a scalable solution that makes it simple to conduct complex analysis of SKU’s across brands, product families, categories, retailers as well as time. Organizations can leverage Anaplan’s inventory optimizer to supplement inventory management policies like safety stock setting and cycle stock optimization in order to determine ideal stock levels across all nodes of the supply chain network as well as conduct both top down and bottoms up planning and analysis. Anaplan’s collaborative platform can integrate data from various sources providing a single source of truth allowing for truly connected planning and visibility amongst all trading partners including raw material suppliers, 3PL warehousing and transportation providers, customers, and manufacturing and production facilities, reducing the probability of the bullwhip effect. Reducing holding and transportation costs while meeting or exceeding customer service goals is a balancing act, and having the right technology to increase visibility and calculate key metrics helps supply chain planners determine ideal inventory levels and location to achieve that balance. Organizations should continue to refine their S&OP process to optimize inventory planning in Anaplan while using the platform to help define and maintain inventory targets across the network, forecast inventory levels and optimize inventory.

See Anaplan’s inventory management capabilities in action by checking out our Daily Inventory Management app on the Anaplan App Hub.

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Akili PHD: The Swimmer

By Michelle Fadley | Resource Manager

Swimming has been a huge part of my life since the beginning. Both of my parents were swim coaches so swimming was a way of life. By 2.5 years old, I could swim by myself, barely lifting my little face out of the water and diving back down pretending to be a mermaid. That love for the water grew as I began competing in swimming at the age of 5 years old. By 10 years old, I was part of the top relay team in the country, competing in Junior Olympics and traveling around the state for meets. In high school, our girls’ team placed second in CIF championships where I was a finalist in several events. This all led to my ultimate swimming goal of competing for a Division 1 college, Pepperdine, where I was a scholarship athlete for the 4 years that I was there.

Swimming at that level took a tremendous amount of my time and energy, but it also opened up some wonderful opportunities. When I was 16, my club coach took a group of swimmers to Australia where we were able to swim in the Olympic competition pool in Sydney. We were housed with families from a swim team in Brisbane where I learned about Vegemite and how to swim clockwise (opposite of what we do in the US) in a warm pool. We also went to Fiji and were able to scuba dive with sharks! I love that swimming took me places and allowed me to meet so many wonderful people.

I continue to enjoy the water and have passed on my love for it to my kids. I was able to teach both of them to swim by 2.5 years old and they have competed in our neighborhood summer league team for several years. They enjoy riding the waves and playing in the pools at all the places we have traveled to. We recently took a family trip to Belize where they were able to swim with sharks and stingrays.

Swimming has also allowed for me to give back to my community in a unique way. I love teaching people how to swim almost as much as I enjoy swimming itself. I started teaching lessons to toddlers when I was 12 years old. From teaching kids with autism to kids who didn’t speak my same language, I learned there are so many ways to explain the art of swimming. I later went on to coach a summer league team of 120 kids ages 5-18 who ended the season as league champs. Then I coached a group of 120 teenagers at my high school alma mater where I lead a group to CIF championships. From over two decades of teaching swim lessons, from toddlers to adults, there is something so gratifying when you see someone go from fearful of the water to never wanting to get out!

Swimming has taught me how to wake up early, even when I don’t want to. To compete and push myself, both for my benefit and for my team. I am constantly reminded that we can always dig deeper and find the energy for one more set. It taught me to love and care for my body, both physically and mentally. It taught me time management skills, how to win and lose, and that even a hundredth of a second matters. I may not get in a pool everyday anymore, but the lessons I learned from the sport have shaped me into the person I am today.

When life gets me down, the famous line from Dory in Finding Nemo reminds me to just keep swimming.

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Employee Spotlight: Sourjya Rudra

At Akili, we have many interesting and talented professionals contributing to our success from all of our locations! This week we’re highlighting one of our Atlanta-based employees, Sourjya!

Tell us more about your role and what you like most about it.

As a Business Planning Consultant, I get to wear a variety of hats during a project. While the primary work is developing Anaplan solutions for our clients, there are various roles to play during an engagement and that’s what is so great about consulting in general, no two days are ever the same.

Akili is full of people that are extremely knowledgeable in their area of expertise and having that deep knowledge within the company makes it great for someone who is starting out their career.

What drew you to Akili? Is Akili what was described to you and what you expected?

I was introduced to Akili through a mutual friend and what I instantly recognized was the deep expertise people had across all levels for a company of this size. Akili has an on-boarding process that rivals big-name competitors which I believe sets everyone up for success when put on an engagement.

What is also great about the people that work here is the respect for personal time and the desire to have fun while you are working. There is definitely a work hard / play hard mentality here and it’s refreshing to see a company that follows that motto as well as many other principles that make Akili a stand-out company to be a part of.

What’s your favorite Akili memory?

Right before coming onboard at Akili, I got a chance to meet everyone at the annual summer party. I instantly felt welcomed by everyone I met and it was such a great first experience and intro into the company. I had a friend that I brought along as a guest and she even recognized how genuine and fun everyone seemed. Fast forward to the first day of work, I was instantly plugged in and felt like there was a support system and someone to always reach out to if I needed the help.

What makes Akili stand out from the rest?

I’ve alluded to the culture here are Akili already, but I’ll emphasize that it’s rare to see people that live by and practice the culture at a company. It’s something that everyone from the top down lives and breathes by and it makes it very easy for a new employee to recognize this firm is genuine and really cares about its people and the work it delivers.

What advice do you have for prospective candidates?

  1. Bringing your authentic self to the table is valued at Akili and at the end of the day, people want you to have fun while doing the work you’re doing.
  2. Having a desire to continuously improve and be better than the day before is demanded and respected and part of why Akili has been so successful in growing in the short time that I have been here. Everyone from the top down is dedicated to getting better and growing in their respective roles, you should be too.

What has been the most important innovation you have witnessed in your lifetime?

I know I’m one of the younger ones at Akili, but I conceptually can’t imagine or remember a life without a search engine. That and Google Maps. I’m not sure how I’d live my life without either.

How do you like to spend your free time? / What are you passionate about?

I love outdoor hiking / camping trips. I have a few friends that get together just about every year and go on a week-long trip somewhere. I have a few favorite places I’ve been to, but the most recent favorite was Glacier National Park. There are trails that take you to the glaciers themselves while giving you views you could only dream of. There is something satisfying and freeing in knowing that you’re going to wake up and your only option for that day is to pack up and walk however many miles to your next destination (Or else you’re just stuck on a mountain).

Personal finance is a topic I am really passionate about. I nerd out on personal finance books and blogs and it’s a topic more people need to talk about. Understanding finances can be the difference between living a good life and a great life and it’s not a complicated topic. All the personal finance knowledge the average person needs can be fit on an index card, anything more and it is my opinion that you’ve overcomplicated it and you’re probably hurting your future self.

Motto or personal mantra?

“Aim for significance over success”

I feel lucky to have realized at a fairly young age that striving for success isn’t really as fulfilling as striving for significance. I’ve seen and read about a lot of people achieve success in life but later regret not having truly made an impact in the way they wanted. The definition of significance and success is different for everyone, but what’s important is making sure it is defined for yourself.

One of best decisions I ever made was to become a teacher right out of college with an organization called Teach for America. No matter how challenging that time was, I walked away from the classroom knowing what it felt like to make a difference and achieve something that I thought was significant.

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How to achieve end user adoption during an Anaplan project

By Josh Huilar | Senior Business Planning Consultant

What does end user adoption look like?

To me, end user adoption is when a company is using an implemented solution years later; furthermore, the solution has evolved to meet the ever-changing needs of the company.

Why is end user adoption important?

Believe it or not, many customers invest in a solution and never use it. End user adoption maximizes your company’s return on investment.

How can your company achieve end user adoption?

I suggest the following actions:

  • Commit
  • Engage
  • Dedicate
  • Train
  • Evolve

Commit

Do not implement a half-baked solution. Everyone wants a fully automated solution until they see the sticker price. I do not advise implementing a fully automated solution because business needs will change, but invest in a solution that is seamless enough so that someone new can jump right in.

Engage

The biggest risk to end user adoption is an organization not being engaged in the implementation of a solution. Anaplan is a tool, not a cure-all. Your company chose Anaplan because it has pain points it is trying to solve. Maybe it is enabling more efficient processes that will give employees their nights and weekends back. Whatever the reasons, stay engaged by focusing on the end goal.

Dedicate

If you use Excel in your everyday job, expect to use Anaplan just as much. It is easy to get caught up in your day-to-day job tasks. Make it a goal to dedicate 15 minutes a day to something Anaplan related. You will soon discover that 15 minutes can easily turn into an hour. Before you know it, you will be comfortable with Anaplan.

Train

Your initial set of users know Anaplan, but what about the people after them? Create an internal Center Of Excellence (COE) team to maintain, support, and enhance Anaplan. This team will be accountable for creating standard work documentation, training videos, and hosting training workshops.

Evolve

Companies choose Anaplan because it is flexible. Why? Because as your business evolves, Anaplan can evolve with it. Be aware and comfortable with the fact that Anaplan won’t look the same two years from now.

End user adoption will never be “complete”. It is an iterative process that requires an investment of time and a high level of accountability from you and your organization to ensure its success.

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Akili Wins for the Fifth Time!

Akili was named one of the 2019 Best Companies to Work for in Texas. Known for their expertise in implementing Enterprise Performance Management solutions, this is their fifth time receiving this award. The awards program is a project of Texas Monthly magazine, the Texas Association of Business (TAB), the Texas State Council of the Society for Human Resource Management (TSC-SHRM) and Best Companies Group.

Made up of 100 companies, the 2019 Best Companies to Work for in Texas was designed to identify, recognize, and honor the best places of employment in Texas, benefiting the state’s economy, workforce and business.

“In a world that has never spun so fast, business decisions have to be made quickly and have to be data driven rather than gut driven. Akili helps companies to make those decisions by implementing world class Sales, Operations, Supply Chain and Financial Planning Solutions,” said Shiek Shah, CEO of Akili. “I am most proud of this award out of all the accolades we receive, as this is based on employee surveys and not driven by financials or growth. For a professional services company like ours, our employees are our assets and we are absolutely committed to ensuring that we provide the best environment for them to thrive in.”

Companies from across the great state entered the two-part process to determine the Best Companies to Work for in Texas. The first part of the process represents 25 percent of the total evaluation and measures each company’s workplace policies, practices and demographics. Counting for 75 percent of the overall evaluation is the most crucial and telling, the employee survey. This survey consists of a series of questions that measure the employee experience and satisfaction. The combined scores determined the top companies and the final ranking.

Akili was recognized and honored at the Best Companies to Work for in Texas awards ceremony as part of the Texas Association of Business Annual Conference in Austin, Texas. The rankings (Akili came in at 17th) will also be released in a special advertising section of Texas Monthly.

Akili fosters a strong culture of investing in employees and developing an environment that values them as individuals, provides the support of a team and enables employees to pursue their career goals without restraint. Akili’s vision is to create a work environment that gives employees the opportunity, encouragement, and recognition they need to truly excel at what they do.

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Akili Becomes Authorized OneStream Software Implementer

DALLAS, TEXAS – Akili Inc. announced that it has become an authorized OneStream Software partner in North America. The new partnership combines Akili’s deep industry and domain expertise in delivering EPM solutions with OneStream’s proven SmartCPMTM platform and solutions to help companies transform their financial consolidation, reporting, planning and analysis processes.

OneStream Software provides a revolutionary CPM platform that unifies and simplifies financial consolidation, planning, reporting, analytics, and financial data quality for sophisticated organizations. Deployed in the cloud or on-premise, OneStream XF is the first and only solution that delivers corporate standards and controls, with the flexibility for business units to report and plan at additional levels of detail without impacting corporate standards – all through a single application.

“OneStream adds to our growing capability to provide EPM solutions to our clients that now include Financial Planning and Consolidations, Sales Planning and Supply Chain Planning,” said Akili Chief Executive Officer Shiek Shah. “They’ve already demonstrated a tremendous track record in converting clients from legacy financial planning solutions to OneStream and we hope to continue to add to their success.”

Craig Colby, OneStream Chief Revenue Officer, said: “We are excited to see Akili come on board as a OneStream partner. Their expertise in the EPM space combined with OneStream’s modern platform, which can easily be extended with over 50 additional solutions from our MarketPlace, will streamline financial processes for their customers. Akili now has a new tool box to offer faster time to value and more customer agility. By reducing the technical complexity of business changes, their customers will be able to spend more time on value added analysis to drive the business forward.”

About OneStream Software

OneStream Software provides a modern Corporate Performance Management solution that unifies and simplifies financial consolidation, planning, reporting, analytics and financial data quality for sophisticated organizations. Deployed in the cloud or on-premise, OneStream XF is one of the first and only solutions that delivers corporate standards and controls, with the flexibility for business units to report and plan at additional levels of detail without impacting corporate standards – all through a single application.

The OneStream XF MarketPlace features downloadable solutions that allow customers to easily extend the value of their CPM platform to quickly meet the changing needs of finance and operations. OneStream was named to the 2018 Deloitte Fast 500 ranking in North America

About Akili

Akili (pronounced (uh • kē’ • lē) meaning “knowledge” in Swahili) is a business management and technology consulting firm founded in 1992. Our core purpose is to improve the business performance of our clients through the application of technology, people, and process.

Akili delivers solutions for Global 2000 companies and is focused on Industry solutions for Oil & Gas, Manufacturing, Financial Services, Retail, Hi-Tech, Hospitality, Consumer Packaged Goods, Construction, and Telecom, among others. Akili’s consultants have functional expertise in the areas of Enterprise Performance Management, Analytics, and Business Process Management.  Akili’s technical expertise includes project and program management, solution architecture, technical architecture, application configuration, data management, and integration. Whether clients are looking for an on premise solution or a cloud based solution, Akili can deliver the best combination of technology and consulting to ensure our client’s business objectives are met.

Akili is headquartered in Dallas, TX, with locations in Houston, TX, Atlanta, GA and Denver, CO.  Our clients span the continental U.S. For more information on Akili’s solutions and services, please visit www.akili.com or email info@akili.com.

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Akili Core Values Series: Teamwork

 

By Shannon Bachar | Marketing Coordinator

TeamworkAs individuals we’re bright. As a team, brilliant. We believe that great people working together can accomplish the extraordinary.

At Akili, no one stands alone. Teamwork is essential at this organization and is one of the reasons we are successful today.

It’s evident that we exercise teamwork at the office. I mean, it’s a part of our everyday practice and necessary to finishing projects to complete client satisfaction.

However, I’ve noticed that focusing on building teamwork outside of the office, leads to even greater achievements inside. So rather than share how we practice teamwork within these glass doors, I have a couple of outside experiences that immediately come to mind.

One instance in particular, is when our team went rock climbing. I felt like calling it quits for the day after a couple of climbs, when my fellow Akilians convinced me to go for a tougher course for one final go. One of my coworkers offered to be a belayer and the other was helping to guide me where to climb next. About halfway through I was ready to give up, as both my arms and legs were trembling from the effort. Instead of bringing me back down to solid ground like I pleaded, my team expressed confidence and pushed me to keep going to the top.

I finally made my way to the top and by no means was it an individual effort. In that moment, I was proud that these were the kind of people that I worked with. They’re the ones that help you push the envelope to be the best that you can be, and you never feel like you’re alone on the path to success. We all want each other to benefit and will work as a team to get there, even if it means you don’t receive individual praise.

In addition to one-off team building events, a more obvious teamwork activity is the Dallas Marathon relay we run every year. We put two teams up against each other with no real pressure to perform, only to work together and have fun along the way. The marathon relay truly exemplifies teamwork, as we each bring intensity to get a decent time and encourage both teams at the wristband hand-offs. After, we all meet up for drinks and congratulate one another for putting in the work to finish.

Each of these experiences prove that we Akilians maximize our strengths, bringing out the best in one another to work toward a common goal. We do more than get along. We show the ability to put the needs of Akili above our own and place each other in the best position to succeed. We all have something unique to bring to the table to accomplish the ‘extraordinary’.

The fact that Akili emphasizes getting together outside of the office speaks volumes. When you get to know your coworkers in a casual setting over a drink or fun activity, you build a stronger relationship and value it, not ever wanting to let them down. Therefore, teamwork at the office becomes almost seamless.

And I believe that’s why we continue to succeed.

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The ‘Best Fit’ of Product to Machine

 

EXECUTIVE SUMMARY

Planning complexity in manufacturing and order fulfillment stem from the attempt to “fit” forecasted demand with available production machines, while hoping to leverage an algorithm that will provide the best “bang for the buck”. This algorithm normally incorporates Level 2 production machine metrics like run-rate, machine efficiency, and scrap rate to achieve an optimal mix. However, disparate operating schedules across plants, outages, availability and lead-times of required packaging material, as well as dependent (i.e. tolling) external processes can make creation of reliable, time-phased production schedules challenging.

Furthermore, for many organizations, Sales and Production work as two independent business units that share information via e-mail messages and spreadsheets. The communication gap and operational lag caused by this method of “collaboration” does not support the need for highly inter-related sales forecasting and production planning and makes it even harder to create a reliable schedule. Many companies have found that spreadsheets are not able to keep up with the constant flux in demand and are wrought with errors, leading to the creation of a production schedule that garners little trust from users and does not properly support business needs. The Production Planning application developed by Akili on the Anaplan platform provides a cloud-based tool that uses real time data to provide a solution to common production planning challenges.

INTRODUCTION

As globalization increases and markets continue to shrink, supply chains will become ever more complex, and with over thirty percent of companies considering Excel, a supply chain system, many companies will be left behind if they do not begin to leverage planning tools and cloud solutions as do their best-in-class competitors. Out are the days of planning in functional silos and seeking only to minimize costs. In order to remain competitive, companies need to adopt more collaborative planning processes that include cross functional interaction as well as external partner integration where customer requirements drive strategic decisions.

While process improvement is an admirable goal, realizing a mature, competitive supply chain also requires a technology solution that can fully support business processes without restricting users to an out-of-the-box solution that either restricts planners or forces organizations to pay for a plethora of unnecessary features that will never be used. Anaplan is the ideal tool to help organizations usher in a new day of truly connected planning and technological competitive advantage.

Anaplan allows organizations to build multiple applications (apps), or models, that support varied business planning processes from Supply Chain to Financial Planning, Sales and Marketing, and IT. At Akili, our Financial Planning & Analysis (FP&A) and Supply Chain expertise places us in a category of Anaplan partners with an ability to not only develop and configure the technical aspect of Anaplan models, but to also guide our customers through business process improvement that allows them to bridge the gap between functional areas and external partnerships, creating a true Sales and Operations Planning (S&OP) process supported by a cloud solution that gives a new meaning to connected planning.

SUPPORTING BUSINESS PROCESSES WITH ANAPLAN

Organizations with mature planning processes, in our case fictional ACME and Co., will begin with a consensus forecast generated via collaborative meetings and cross-functional Sales and Operations Planning (S&OP) sessions involving Sales, Marketing, Finance, and Operations. The final forecast, including assumptions and notes from each department, is maintained in Anaplan for access to real-time changes and updates visible to everyone involved in the planning process. This forecast is then ‘married’ with open sales orders in the Production Planning model, used daily by Production Planners.

Using a customizable, dynamic algorithm, we’ve developed the Anaplan “backend” to compare forecasted weekly volume with actual sales order data and to choose the greater of the two. It also accounts for on hand inventory, including safety stock, and WIP as it determines and prioritizes the true production requirement. The Production Planner is able to flex demand figures against available machines and run what-if scenarios to create multiple, comparable versions of the Anaplan-generated production schedule based on current conditions outlined above. Because it always uses real-time data, the production schedule can be run and published as frequently as is required by the business.

THE MODEL

Organizations can perform true modeling and scenario planning by leveraging Anaplan’s capability to create and recommend production schedules by analyzing resource availability and capacity and demand. Anaplan arrives at a different ‘best fit’ according to resource availability, including displaying an ‘overcapacity’ error if demand exceeds capacity.

The model also provides the added flexibility of integrating subsequent processes, gaining full visibility to the supply chain. For example, the Packing Schedule and Warehouse Labor & Inventory (not detailed here) schedules are always synchronized with changes made by the Production Planner.

DETAILED DESIGN VIEW — PRODUCTION PLANNING APP

The Anaplan model developed for ACME & Co. has three main components:

  • Data Hub integrated with an enterprise ERP system to be used as the source of truth for sales and production data

  • Sales Planning dashboard with sales orders and customer and production distribution

  • Production Planning dashboards to be used as the core function of the application

As shown below, the model uses demand data as an input and several multi-dimensional calculation modules to generate the final production schedule.

 

PRODUCTION PLANNING DASHBOARDS

Machine & Product Setup and Analytics

This dashboard displays product and machine compatibility and dependence, also known as “fitting,” since not every product can be produced on every machine. It also visually indicates portions of the algorithm that consider machine run-rate and efficiency, scrap percentage and mold limit per run as it determines at the best-fit.

Capacity & Production Analysis

This dashboard sums the fitting analysis from the previous dashboard and compares capacity, including visibility to excess capacity, to planned production (output).

Production Schedules

Planners can use this dashboard to indicate machine uptime/status and create a printable/exportable production schedule. The Anaplan generated production schedule is determined heavily by planner indication of resources being up (running) or down (outage).

CONCLUSION

Supplier diversification and outsourcing mean increasingly complex spreadsheets that require hours of manipulation to arrive at superficial solutions that only consider two-dimensional data and linear modeling. Anaplan however, allows for multi-dimensional modeling with real-time data from across the supply chain network providing actionable insights to planners, giving them the ability to analyze multiple what-if scenarios in minutes. The Akili ACME Production Planning model demonstrates the utility of scenario planning and data visibility from internal departments and external partners.

Anaplan offers a robust solution to inflexible, siloed planning systems and provides a no code, dynamic cloud-based platform that can scale and transform as the business does. As a gold level implementation partner, Akili is the ideal firm to assist organizations with long-term development plans and process improvement. For more information about the production planning model or to schedule a demo of the full model contact Sean Granfield.