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posted in Operations Consulting by Shane Bredoff

Seems like anything that begins with the letter i is super hot right now, but this has nothing to do with any Electronics company named for fruit. This article is more about a famous story written about giving control to the machines.


Isaac Asimov portrayed an amazing cautionary tale about the dangers of giving over control to machines. Not that I am worried that my bi-pedal robotic butler is likely to lock me in my house to keep me safe. While they have built just such a contraption, I have no desire for one, even if I could afford it. Nonetheless, I do see where we have begun to do exactly this in the workplaces where the smartest humans reside.

It amazes me, not in the great way Mr. Asimov does, when I see a major corporation turn over all thinking and decision making to inanimate objects. The organizations that have the ability to attract the brightest talent seem to be the most willing to have them stop thinking. I cringe every time I hear that the “system” told someone to order too much or did not tell them to order enough.

Computers are great!! The number of transactions that a major corporation deals with every day certainly could not be handled with T-accounts and ledger paper. Nor could any company afford to hire the number of bookkeepers required to do what the most basic ERP system can do in its sleep (or the computer equivalent). This does not mean, though, that we give up the ability to think and question.

Even the best implementations have exceptions. When a replenishment message gets turned off or the re-order quantity does not meet the vendors MOQ we cannot throw up our hands and just say “The System … (fill in the blank)”. I have yet to meet a customer that was not upset (although many are sympathetic) that their order could not be fulfilled because of “the system”.

We need to continue to use our brains. Frequently, the issues are easy to spot if we are not blindly just following what our machines are telling us. I’ll take a simple process and smart people using their brains over the most expensive ERP any day.

No need to smash the machines, but let’s not turn our brains off when we turn our ERP on.

Hop on my Twitter @scientificbus
Best regards, Shane. 

Supply Chain ERP IT Systems

15 02, 16

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