Advice on Links Simulation

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LINKS Simulation Reference Notes
Background:
About LINKS:

* LINKS is a supply chain management simulation
* It details all the steps that go into efficiently running a supply chain and how they are interrelated including: analysis, planning, implementation, and evaluation. * Your team can view the results from lasts month’s decision on the LINKS website under the Excel Monthly Results. You should look at trends to determine how your decisions affect your performance. * Although your team might have high customer satisfaction or a high stock price, your performance in regards to the overall competition is determined via a multi-dimensional scorecard that takes the following criteria into account: * efficiency (input usage);

* effectiveness(output quality)
* productivity (conversions of outputs into inputs)
* firm wide profitability
* external performance (change in market share and customer satisfaction) Major Supply Chain Elements:
* Generate Demand – these decisions encompass the pricing and marketing spending of each product in each channel within each region. * Forecasting – Estimating next month’s sales demand based on historical data. * Manufacturing – determining how many units of product 0, product one, and product two to produce in the next month based on your forecast. * Procurement – determining the amount of raw materials and works in process to satisfy next month’s manufacturing needs. * Distribution – includes warehouse capability and ownership decisions. Do you want to own the DC? Do you want to implement cross docking? Etc. * Transportation – determination of volume and modes for inbound and outbound shipments. Do you want to use surface shipping with a specific carrier? Etc. * Research Studies – includes decisions to purchase various benchmarking reports that enable you to see the decisions and performance of other teams. * Other Decisions – Decide on a team name.

Our Links Experience:
Positive Aspects:
* It was an excellent opportunity to see how different processes within the supply chain fit together. * It goes beyond the theory in the textbook and is a more real world experience of supply chain. * It’s a good team building experience and enables you to discover your own strengths and weaknesses.

Issues Encountered:
* It was extremely difficult and overwhelming to get started. We did not know how different elements fit together and made many blind decisions. * The simulation requires input from all team members and some members might not be as reliable as others. Choose your partners wisely! * There is an extreme time commitment in the beginning months (3 to 4 hours for the first few decision periods). Luckily we are here to help you reduce that time commitment and aid your understanding.

Key Points to Remember Before Using LINKS:
* Always save the LINKS monthly results Excel file! The simulation deletes past decisions and results after about six decision periods. * Set REALISTIC goals! No one is going to have forecasting accuracies consistently in the 90% range, it just doesn’t happen. Strive for continuous improvement and don’t dwell on set-backs, because everyone experiences them at one time or another. * READ the LINKS manual in addition to these notes while making your decisions. Reading the manual before the hands on experience of seeing the simulation will be a waste of time. * NE VER change the more than one type of generate demand decision at a time. You need to perform a cause and effect analysis, and you won’t be able to do so if you change more than one dependent variable. * Marketing must be continuously increased to have intended effect and there are limits to how much you can spend. You get more “bang for your buck” if you benchmark with other teams and maintain competitive prices. * Understand and implement product 0 ASAP! Those who master the concept will see substantial...
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