The Supply Chain Detective™ – Our First 10 Cases!

Much of the supply chain activity is not just solving problems, but also doing the investigative work to find out what caused those problems to prevent them from reoccurring in the future. With that in mind, we’ve launched The Supply Chain Detective™ Series, and here we present our first 10 cases!

This is a fascinating and exciting part of any supply chain job. Most people don’t just want to solve problems. Solving problems like material shortages can be very stressful and exhausting. But the more intellectual exercise is trying to figure out what caused these problems in the first place.

To that end, we’ve captured real life experiences and articulate what happened to the eyes and mind of The Supply Chain Detective™.

Here we have summarized the first 10 cases that we have published so far.

1. The Supply Chain Detective™! Looking for clues to broken supply chains!

Appropriately, our very first article was created to introduce The Supply Chain Detective™ and the concept of investigative analysis and problem solving in this area.

In this article, we also discuss The Crime Scene and Find the Leads and Connect the Dots. These concepts are applicable to anyone in any organization and in any industry.

2. The Supply Chain Detective™ and the Case of the Unpaid Bills!

Our first full case concerns a real-world situation where a mountain of unpaid bills caused suppliers to rebel and jeopardize the continuity of supply needed to keep a manufacturing facility running.

Here we follow The Supply Chain Detective™’s investigation into the clues uncovered, the issues that caused the problem, and then on to the solution.

3. The Supply Chain Detective™ and the Rockstar Boss Mystery!

The company had hired a new chief procurement officer. As the CEO said, this person was chosen because they were considered a “rock star” in the industry. But within a few months, this “rock star” imploded and disappeared entirely, never to be seen again.

In this article, we follow the investigation of what happened and how the situation was analyzed and resolved, in a future that would no longer affect the “Rock Star”.

4. The Supply Chain Detective™ and the Case of the Missing Cash!

The CFO came into my office and told me we had a problem. We only had enough cash to either pay the staff or the suppliers for the next week. This was certainly a catch 22 situation.

Follow us as we examine what happened to create this unsustainable situation, what caused the liquidity crunch, and the steps taken to restore cash flow.

5. The Supply Chain Detective™ and the Disaster at the Distribution Center!

Having just joined this retail company, I became very interested in the huge automation investment they had just made in their distribution center. However, I was stunned shortly thereafter when the head of the DC called me to say that the distribution center had run out of space and was unable to receive and process goods, all before the critical holiday season.

Here we learn how this complete collapse came about and what steps were taken to ensure the company’s survival during the busiest time of the retail year.

6. The Supply Chain Detective™ and the inventory turnover mystery!

I had just joined the company which was proclaiming itself to be one of the world’s leading distribution and logistics companies. But when I crawled into the details, I learned that they only had 5-6 inventory turns. This not only lagged behind most of the industry, but was highly embarrassing.

In this case, we follow the voyage of discovery of what drives this chronically poor stock performance. Then we use those investigative discoveries to double the company’s inventory performance in record time and deliver a truly leading result.

7. The Supply Chain Detective™ and the Mystery of the S&OP Phantoms!

The company had no S&OP (Sales and Operations Planning) or SIOP process. Without this level of planning, there were broken processes, missing metrics, customer delivery issues, and financial losses.

When attempting to create and embed an S&OP process within the organization, there have been many blockers, ghosts and phantoms standing in the way of process implementation and success. In this case, we’re investigating why the problems have arisen, although everyone has indicated that they see the need.

8. The Supply Chain Detective™ and the Vacation Ready Disaster!

The holiday season is the biggest part of the retail calendar. For most companies, the success of the year depends entirely on a successful holiday season. Imagine my surprise that our DC was not able to handle the volume of goods when goods arrived.

The Supply Chain Detective™ investigates this situation in the midst of a phenomenal crisis necessary to quickly turn things around and save the holidays and the company.

9. The Supply Chain Detective™ and the Paradox of Change!

The company hired me to drive change and business transformation. Their old business model was threatened by intense competition and they had to make changes.

But despite the message for change coming from the CEO down, the forces against change, even from the CEO down, have been conflicting. Here we examine what happened, the characteristics of the Saboteurs, and how to spot these blockers that create the Alteration Paradox.

10. The Supply Chain Detective™ and the $25M Heist!

The company had just invested $25 million to modernize and automate its entire distribution center. As a newcomer to the company, the project, which was about to be completed, seemed very impressive.

But before long, it became clear that they had just automated their old ways. There was no attempt to make improvements or streamline the process. Sticking to this old paradigm was costing the company at least $20 million more than was strictly necessary.

What happened and how did they miss the mark so badly? In the 10th of our first 10 cases, it definitely felt like a robbery had taken place.


Every day, supply chain professionals are caught up in situations and problem solving that aren’t right. Choices, processes, and circumstances all conspired to create these problems.

By examining these issues and doing the forensics, we can uncover the clues that need to be understood in order to understand and resolve these issues so they don’t recur.

We hope you enjoyed our first 10 cases. Stay tuned for more cases from The Supply Chain Detective™!

The article with the first 10 cases was originally published on July 19, 2022.

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