Bill Benton, CEO “Vision is the art of seeing what is invisible to others.” — Jonathan Swift
Every visionary in this world shares one common trait: a stubborn dedication to break the status quo. The founder of GAINSystems, an inventory and supply chain optimization solutions pioneer, William C. (Bill) Benton, was no different.
When Bill founded GAINSystems in 1971, he saw an opportunity to help businesses plan more accurately and achieve more efficient outcomes. Through the application of operations research optimization and algorithmic planning and forecasting, he helped manufacturing, distribution, retail, and maintenance operations teams gain efficiencies and improve customer service. To solve these complex business challenges, Bill and his team launched the GAINS® Supply Chain Planning and Optimization platform—a set of stochastic (probability-driven) processes comprising a suite of models and algorithms. And the company journey began.
Today, GAINSystems is proudly led by his son, Bill Benton. With the latest generation of data science, machine learning, optimization and supply chain performance expertise, Bill and the GAINSystems team of experts focus on providing innovative AI-driven solutions to simplify and solve today’s complex supply chain challenges to generate value for customers. “We help businesses take a more proactive approach to solving their most complex supply chain challenges. We transform variability and chaos into visibility and optimal plans,” mentions Bill Benton, CEO, GAINSystems. And, with a recent investment from Francisco Partners, GAINSystems will accelerate R&D initiatives and grow its team faster as they continue to transform business planning.
Supply Chain is the Foundation of Every Business
Supply chains generally consist of multiple internal and external stakeholders who collaboratively work together to get the right products to the right place at the right time for the right cost. Any disruption impacts all the parties involved from customers to suppliers. Serving over 500 customers, GAINSystems helps accelerate decision-making and provides a unified and connected supply chain plan by breaking through the data silos and ensuring a seamless flow of market information aligning the factory floor to the customer’s doorstep.
Typically, organizations rely on ERP systems to ensure accurate and timely access to reliable information. Despite such advantages, ERP systems focus on transaction processing, not optimizing multiple planning and business scenarios to achieve desired outcomes.
Given the complexity of present-day global supply chains, businesses need to dynamically optimize inventory investments by item and location while maintaining desired service levels. “When manufacturers operate locally, it is easier for them to ensure a shorter lead time or identify disruptions. However, business planning becomes significantly more complex with globalized supply networks due to demand variability, longer lead times and increased volatility around production schedules, supplier reliability, shipping constraints and stringent delivery expectations. This highlights the need to create a digital twin that models the physical network of plants, distribution centers and key suppliers to reliably serve customers and achieve revenue and profitability goals,” Bill explains. Such challenges have been further amplified by the global pandemic, creating greater volatility and uncertainty—such as delaying the supply of components and raw materials, disrupting manufacturing operations, and dramatically changing customer demand patterns.
GAINSystems’ primary objective is to help businesses become more proactive and weather these challenges (and many others)via event-driven evaluation of detailed supply and demand signals. “We focus on solving the complex tradeoffs of supply and demand balancing and suggest meaningful ways to optimize inventory investments and synchronize replenishment plans.
Our customers gain visibility, become more proactive and consistently improve customer service, reduce costs and grow profit margins
Our customers gain visibility, become more proactive and consistently improve customer service, reduce expediting, cut costs, and grow profit margins while managing production scheduling constraints,” says Bill.
Staying true to this objective, GAINSystems automates solution deployment with an innovative “self-parameterization” process. Most other supply chain planning tools require users to manually set parameters according to their business needs and objectives which can drain resources and extend implementations timelines. However, GAINSystems accelerates time-to-value by automating this important configuration process in an innovative and hyper-efficient manner. Customers emphasize a unique value in working with GAINSystems is the easy and timely on-boarding to the GAINS platform which typically implements in 10-to-12 weeks. “We accelerate the time-to-value. This automation is just one example of how we help customers move faster and reduce effort over time with a more sustainable solution. Saving time and effort enables our customers to focus on their business goals,” Bill informs. “Building on these quick wins’, we then focus on refined prediction and optimization as well as intra and inter-enterprise collaboration at scale which greatly enhances business resiliency.”
The GAINS platform is cloud-native, giving every member involved in the supply chain planning process seamless access to vital information—building transparency and synchronizing global operations. And, the GAINS platform can be easily integrated with any ERP or other enterprise systems to harness needed data and drive better decision-making.
Comprehensive AI-driven Insights
Recognized as a Visionary by Gartner as well as other industry analysts, the GAINS solution platform has four key elements: demand planning and forecasting, inventory optimization, replenishment optimization, and sales& operations planning (S&OP).
The demand planning and forecasting generates highly accurate forecasts based both on historic demand and seasonality as well as point of sale (POS) data, syndicated data, machine/fleet aftermarket usage, and other leading indicators to drive Sales & Operations Planning (S&OP) scenarios. As such, customers gain visibility, ensure bottom-up (volumetric) and top-down (financial) collaboration, increase planner productivity, and improve new product introductions (NPIs)including short/seasonal life cycles.
The inventory optimization solution takes into account comprehensive cost and source variabilities, service-level goals, demand plan variability, supplier reliability, multi-echelon dependencies via bills-of-material and/or across distribution, and lead-time for every SKU/location across the enterprise. This helps businesses optimize inventory policies, service levels, network flow, and overall inventory investments.
Replenishment optimization helps businesses manage millions of SKU/location decisions by predicting supply needs, generating or changing crucial supply orders, and adapting to changing demand patterns. For many GAINS customers this becomes a highly automated process.
Finally, the S&OP business process brings all the sales, marketing, production, finance, and procurement data into a single comprehensive plan. This accelerates decision-making and strategic planning by enabling the executive team to quickly compare multiple business scenarios, mitigate risks, evaluate revenue plans, and harness new market opportunities while meeting customer service goals. “With GAINS, finance, marketing, sales and supply chain are aligned around one comprehensive plan which can be viewed in revenue, as well as detailed units by SKU, by location,” declares Bill.
S&OP also provides powerful scenario planning that enables businesses to confidently evaluate ever-evolving global business or political scenarios. More importantly, GAINS follows a single canonical data model that drives all these different functions.
Customers get even greater visibility with GAINS SCO Network which helps ensure cross-enterprise synchronization with trading partners including executing transactional processes (order placement and quotation request) and master data management on one centralized platform. “We help customers sense and respond faster aligning demand with supply as well as synchronizing master data. There is one version of the truth and clear accountability,” Bill adds. The company also provides Optimization-as-a- Service without requiring any software implementation, integration, or system training. It enables businesses to better plan their inventory, design multi-echelon strategies and leverage the GAINS team of experts to deliver optimized business planning. “Optimization-as-a-Service is the next generation of planning resilience & streamlining,” claims Bill.
Best Practices for Unique Supply Chain Needs
GAINSystems believes every customer can benefit from industry best practices but may also have some unique business requirements, which makes it essential for GAINS to conduct both empirical and subjective assessments. From the empirical aspect, GAINSystems performs time-lapse simulations of supply chains to model each customer’s network performance including inventory turns, service delivery, expediting/transportation cost, etc. via transaction data. On the subjective side, GAINS strives to understand current workflows and business goals to draw an optimal plan.
With GAINS, finance, marketing, sales and supply chain are aligned around one comprehensive plan which can be viewed in revenue, as well as detailed units by SKU, by location
Forging a comprehensive implementation methodology, GAINSystems has enabled more than 500 companies to improve their operational performance. For instance, a global manufacturer of electrical and industrial automation products was conducting demand planning in a very siloed manner. “They were using a lot of Excel spreadsheets to analyze inventory to feed SAP. This led to intensively manual manufacturing and purchase planning which limited optimization and introduced additional business risk,” Bill adds. The global manufacturer worked initially with GAINSystems for multi-echelon inventory optimization and quickly gained clarity around how to optimize global inventory with greater confidence. They also subsequently moved into holistic demand planning (consensus planning and scenario planning) with S&OP. As a result, they could ensure a better grip on their demand scenarios and plan accordingly, increasing revenue, lowering costs and improving customer service.
Such instances of customer success always drive GAINSystems to explore new avenues of growth and continuously enhance its capabilities. In the short term, the company is focusing on further leveraging artificial intelligence for optimization modeling around multi-enterprise networks, scenario analysis, and network structure into the planning process—and even into the execution process to provide a unique and comprehensive continuous planning platform that supports strategic, tactical and operational decisions. In the long run, the company will strive to make further automation an integral part of its solution to reduce and gradually eliminate any detailed human intervention.
With a focus on providing transformational business results instead of projects, GAINSystems has been able to stay true to its vision of optimizing the complex relationships between supply and demand, sourcing and procurement, to reduce operating costs, automate routine planning, and drive better business decisions.