right_division Green SCM Distribution
Bookmark us
SCDigest Logo

SCDigest Expert Insight: Supply Chain by Design

About the Author

Dr. Michael Watson, one of the industry’s foremost experts on supply chain network design and advanced analytics, is a columnist and subject matter expert (SME) for Supply Chain Digest.

Dr. Watson, of Northwestern University, was the lead author of the just released book Supply Chain Network Design, co-authored with Sara Lewis, Peter Cacioppi, and Jay Jayaraman, all of IBM. (See Supply Chain Network Design – the Book.)

Prior to his current role at Northwestern, Watson was a key manager in IBM's network optimization group. In addition to his roles at IBM and now at Northwestern, Watson is director of The Optimization and Analytics Group.

By Dr. Michael Watson

March 21, 2012

Top Three Ways Supply Chain Models Can Go Wrong

Can a Model go Wrong and Lead to Bad Decisions? Are Some Firms Hesitant to Use Models because of Bad Experiences in the Past?

Dr. Watson Says:

If you understand the way models can go wrong, it can help you prevent it from happening in your organization.
What Do You Say?

Click Here to Send Us Your Comments
Click Here to See Reader Feedback

We’ve discussed the benefits of supply chain modeling many times.  However, not every manager is convinced that they should be modeling.  In fact, after a recent column by SCDigest editor Dan Gilmore calling for more companies to model their supply chains, one reader asked if the fear of bad models leading to terrible supply chain decisions wasn’t a key factor in some companies avoiding modeling.

Maybe part of the fear is that a model can lead to a bad result.  Or, perhaps, you have heard of modeling projects that went wrong. 

Like any complex task, modeling can go wrong, lead to bad results, and leave you hesitant to try again. 

If you understand the way models can go wrong, it should help you prevent it from happening in your organization.  Here are the top 3 ways your model can go wrong and what you can do about it.


You can run into the 2nd and 3rd problems with your own team or with external consultants who might not have the experience you thought they did.  One of the reasons we wrote a book on network design is that we felt like analysts and mangers didn’t understand the technology behind the tools they were using.  If they understood the technology better, they could build better models and ask better questions.

Final Thoughts:

One thing you should keep in mind is that you may still run into the 3rd failure if you don’t do supply chain modeling.  Guessing at the right answer can lead the wrong solution.  And, remember, doing nothing is a model that says your supply chain is just fine.  So, even if you don’t model, you don’t get off the hook.

Recent Feedback


No Feedback on this article yet