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August 27, 2019

Product Review: Supply Chain Planning Solutions

Lighthouse SCS Platform Offers Unique Functions Into S&OP, DP, PPS Which Simplifies Demand Forecasting and Inventory Forecasting for Better Visibility

Most Often, product-based companies struggle with maximizing revenue while optimizing supply chain costs and inventory. With rising customer demands and expectations, managing complex supply chains to deliver the dual goals of profitability with growth is becoming increasingly difficult. Lighthouse Supply Chain Solutions as an Integrated Business Planning Suite looks to me as if it is designed exclusively to handle such complexities by taking feedback from the market to come as much close to practical deliverable solutions.

Product Review...

A higher system flexibility allows solutions to be built faster without having to encounter numerous constraints. 

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Differentiating Factor

Historically, customers have expected basic parameters like quality service and fair pricing for adoption of any planning solutions. However, when I go back and evaluate the Software solutions delivered across the world and take feedback from the Clients who have implemented these solutions, the frequently observed criticism would be about the limitations for personalization and the flexibility of the product to adopt new functionalities with changing business needs. Another critical customer requirement which I have experienced would be a shorter Implementation duration. In a rapidly changing world, I believe that the difference in adoption time can sometimes make or break the organization’s objectives with respect to its competitors.

In my comparison of Lighthouse with respect to other SCM solutions across the world, I have observed that Lighthouse differentiates from its competitors in the above discussed parameters. In one way, both these parameters are linked to each other. A higher system flexibility allows solutions to be built faster without having to encounter numerous constraints. A user can feel that the system configurations and UI design are thoughtfully structured with plug and play functionalities and is made highly intuitive for the implementation consultants. This has helped the existing users of Lighthouse to adopt the solution faster and make necessary modifications to the system without having to seek the help of consultants after implementation. This helps in personalization of the solution as per customer’s changing needs.

Use of Machine Learning and AI

Artificial Intelligence (AI) and Machine Learning (ML) are the buzz words of the decade and there’s no better place than a planning solution to incorporate these concepts. Demand, as we know, is hugely driven by external factors which influence customer behavior. These factors which were once considered to come with intuition or experience of the planner can now be quantified using Artificial Intelligence techniques. A few of the applications of AI that I have observed in Lighthouse SCS which are unique to its offering and no other product in the market has to offer are Demand Sensing, automatic determination of forecasting technique, auto determination of parameters for Auto Regressive Integrated Moving Average (ARIMA) which comes pre-built within the Machine learning layer.

Another notable feature of Lighthouse is its standard integration with R. I feel this gives a competitive advantage to Lighthouse in terms of Analytics capabilities. The analytics platform can be used in tandem with the planning modules which helps in continuous evaluation of planning output. This output is fed back to the planning engine which will be considered for future predictions thus making the system reactive to changes in market situations.

Data Integration through Lighthouse Connect

In my interaction with customers who have already implemented various planning solutions, one of the biggest challenges they have faced during implementation is for the data integration between the planning and the ERP systems. Specially in today’s world where millions of transactions may take place on a day-to-day basis, a seamless integration mechanism is unavoidable for a planning solution to succeed. It’s also inefficient to create Web services/APIs during implementation of these solutions which results in time and effort consumption. It is better to have a standard Integration platform which can fit easily with the widely used ERP systems across the world. Lighthouse provides this functionality through its unified integration platform called as Lighthouse Connect. It has the capability to interface with a variety of enterprise solutions to establish tight integration between ERP systems and Lighthouse.

Other integration solutions (TIBCO, WebMethods, Mulesoft, Apache Camel etc..) have also been used to integrate order fulfilment, ERP and MES solutions to Lighthouse using modern integration patterns (Web Services, APIs).

I have seen a few organizations which fail to understand what supply chain integration truly means. They expect regular Integrated Planning platforms which offer simple management of the movement of materials, resources and addressing logistical issues thereof. However, Lighthouse offers to its clients much more than this. Lighthouse is an Integrated Planning Suite consisting of Demand Planning, Supply Planning, Production Planning, Factory Scheduling, Sales and Operation Planning modules which acknowledges that various production stages of the supply chain must exchange data, analytics, and time-sensitive information in real-time with other points in the supply network.


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