GRA Senior Manager Mat Tolley talks with GRA Director Dan Knox about GAINS SaaS.
In the interview Mat answers the following questions:
- What is the GAINS Advanced Planning System?
- What are some of GAINS’ features and functions?
- GAINS can be installed at a client’s site or delivered as a Software as a Service (SaaS). What is a Software as a Service?
- What are the benefits of GAINS SaaS?
- What are the typical benefits clients see after implementing GAINS?
- What kind of user experience can people expect with GAINS?
- Why do clients choose GAINS when they already have an ERP system?
- What makes the GAINS implementation process with GRA different?
GAINS is a best-of-breed demand, inventory and supply chain planning and optimisation system. GAINS’ unique planning capabilities enable businesses to optimally balance capital, costs, capacity and customer service. GAINS’ unique planning capabilities enable businesses to optimally balance capital, costs, capacity and customer service. GAINS has been around since the early 1970’s and has had more than three decades of focused effort invested in its development.
Dan Knox: And welcome, Mat!
Mat Tolley: Thank you, Dan, good to be with you.
Dan Knox: I'd like to have a chat to you today about the GAINS Advanced Planning System.
Mat Tolley: Sure!
Dan Knox: Can you tell me, what is GAINS?
Mat Tolley: So GAINS is a best-of-breed demand inventory and supply chain planning and optimisation system. It enables companies to optimise costs and working capital while improving customer service levels. With over four decades of development experience, GAINS has proven scalability, up to 15 million SKU-by-store combinations. It has easy integration with different ERP systems including Oracle and SAP. We have 24/7 full-time support staff here in Australia. It's recently been recognised in the Gartner Magic Quadrant for supply chain planning software as a leading solution in that space.
Dan Knox: What are some of GAINS's capabilities?
Mat Tolley: So, as an integrated system, GAINS has three core functions, demand planning and forecasting, inventory optimisation, and replenishment planning. If we start with the Demand Planning module, it has what's called tournament forecasting, which chooses the most plausible forecast out of a selection of 40 forecast models. It has functions around new item introduction and launch forecast capability.
It has promotional and events-based forecasting management, and for more advanced implementations, you can use machine learning algorithms, which take observable trends out of external information and can derive a forecast based off of regression analysis.
From an inventory optimisation perspective, GAINS takes in the costs associated with inventory, so your holding and receiving costs, and determines an optimal order quantity based off those that balances those two costs. It can determine the ideal stocking location and service level to meet an availability target, and it can optimise around profit costs and inventory constraints.
From a replenishment planning perspective, GAINS produces a replenishment plan out to two years for each of your SKU-by-location records. It can proactively determine inventory sharing recommendations, so to internally share inventory instead of having to procure additional inventory, saving cost. And the replenishment recommendations are exception-based, so it enable planners to prioritise their workload and manage by exception, making sure they focus on recommendations that are the greatest urgency.
Dan Knox: Mat, I believe GAINS can be installed on a client's site, or it can be delivered as a Software as a Service model. Can you tell me, what is a Software as a Service model?
Mat Tolley: So Software as a Service is where the infrastructure behind the applications of the database and that are actually stored on the internet, in the cloud, and users access the application via a web browser, for example. The benefits of that is, you have no infrastructure investment on your IT team. The maintenance and upgrade cycles are much easier; those are all done in the background, effectively. So some of the benefits of Software as a Service are no upfront infrastructure investment requirements, automated maintenance and backup and disaster recovery, guaranteed up times through our service level agreements, and third-party security testing to protect your data.
Dan Knox: What sort of results and benefits can the average client achieve with GAINS?
Mat Tolley: So because we take a business delivery approach rather than just a technical implementation approach, we typically see benefits of 10% inventory reduction within the first 12 months increasing to 20% over a three-year period. Service levels can improve up to 40% within the first 12 months, and certainly, workload efficiencies with your planning team.
Dan Knox: You mentioned the workload efficiencies. What sort of user experience can users expect with GAINS?
Mat Tolley: So compared to your typical ERP system, which can be quite fragmented across different screens and having to do different steps and configure multiple things in different ways, the majority of GAINS planning is done effectively on three screens, and it's exception-based, which helps planners focus on really what's important. For example, one of our clients with eight planners are managing three million SKU-at-store combinations.
Dan Knox: If I've already got an ERP system that has some planning functionality in it, why would I use GAINS?
Mat Tolley: Three key reasons, most planning modules within ERP systems are not fit for purpose in today's complex supply chain environment. If you ask yourself, how well does my ERP system manage SKU proliferation, increasing complexity of my supply chain network, increased lead times from using inputs, for example, your ERP is primarily a transacting and recording system, not a planning optimisation system.
The second key reason is, ERP interfaces are not very user-friendly. So much of the work has to be done across multiple screens, multiple things have to be configured. GAINS is primarily done within three screens, and many of the most important planning parameters are automatically configured. And thirdly, your ERP planning module often doesn't contain the more advanced techniques that an advanced planning system like GAINS would contain. So they're not using cutting-edge technologies like AI or machine learning or advanced analytics, which you would get with a system like GAINS.
Dan Knox: So Mat, what makes the GRA implementation approach different?
Mat Tolley: So unlike many software consulting firms, we're actually experts in supply chain. So we're not just implementing the software and doing point-and-click training. We're teaching your planners methodologies behind improving supply chains, how to do supply chain optimisation. We're also there for the journey. We utilise our coach mentors which carry on and do post go-live support for your team, making sure that those techniques are bedded down. Finally, we utilise a design, develop, and deliver implementation methodology to ensure that the benefits that you realise at the end of the project are sustained, ongoing.
Dan Knox: Mat, thank you very much for your time!
Mat Tolley: Appreciate your time, Dan, thanks very much.
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