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“No one ever achieved greatness by playing it safe.”

 

This quote is attributed to Harry J. Gray, an iconic business manager and philanthropist who, through acquisition, assembled one of America’s largest manufacturing corporations. During his career, he received numerous recognitions and honors and was inducted into the Junior Achievement National Business Hall of Fame. My guess is that Mr. Gray was an expert at risk assessment and containment.

 

Wikipedia defines risk as a consequence of action taken in spite of uncertainty. Given that uncertainty is a fact of life in business, risk management is not only unavoidable but essential. In the context of inventory management, the most common risk strategy against stock-outs is to purchase extra inventory as safety stock.


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Choosing the technology for a long-term project is a risky business – this season’s hottest software may be horribly out of fashion a year or two from now. That’s a big problem if you’ve built your supply chain on it; no-one wants to upgrade their software platform very often.

 

It’s a lot easier with the benefit of 20/20 hindsight. If you were building a new enterprise application today you’d choose a web architecture for maximum flexibility in deployment (i.e. servers either local or in the cloud, clients on any kind of device running a browser). On the server you’d probably choose to build on a software ecosystem like Java since it runs on any hardware and has wide industry support. But a lot of enterprise software vendors chose something else when they began their long-term development projects and are left regretting that now.


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