As a professor and assistant chair in fashion merchandising at the Fashion Institute of Technology, State University of New York, I not only instruct my students on using the JDA® Advanced Store Replenishment and JDA® Allocation solutions, but I also participate in a few JDA Special Interest Groups (SIGs).
Each time I participate in a SIG conference call or a SIG meeting at FOCUS, JDA’s annual user conference, I find myself impressed with the way in which these SIGs function. In fact, I am so impressed that I have taken advantage of this opportunity to explore and share my insights about the JDA SIGs.
What is a SIG?
A SIG is a user group, generally set up by solution, that includes a SIG chair (elected by the membership), JDA executives who are solution experts, and members from companies who pay for an enhanced level of service.
Before going much farther, I think it’s important to consider the JDA Special Interest Group mission statement: Foster an environment where active participation maximizes your company’s investment in JDA solutions and enables you to grow both personally and professionally through collaboration with other supply chain professionals.
What is the SIG responsible for?
What does this really mean to the member’s company? It means that each SIG member is able to take an active role in helping improve and enhance the solution based on their company’s needs. The old adage, “if you don’t ask, you don’t get” is truly in play here.
Users create wish lists of enhancements they would like to see, the members vote to rank the enhancements, and the JDA experts weigh in on them to evaluate the cost and time required to implement each one. The final enhancement list is shared on a SIG call or at FOCUS.
Members invariably applaud (literally) with an occasional “yeah!” thrown in for good measure when the enhancement list is announced. This is particularly true if an enhancement the cheering member submitted will clearly improve the speed with which allocations can be executed. Doesn’t everyone want to improve their company ROI?
WIFM (What’s In It For Me?)
In addition to the very specific purpose of a SIG, there are other benefits realized by each individual member that I believe are equally important. They include: enhancing their own solution skills, the opportunity to mentor and to be mentored by their peers, and the ability to reach out to other members to find solutions and workarounds that may be unique to the few vs. the many. But ultimately, for me, the biggest benefit I see is simply the rich experience of collaborating, either virtually or in person, with a group of incredibly smart, insightful, talented, and knowledgeable peers who, over time, may become friends as well.
The Allocation SIG
I am most actively involved in the Allocation SIG. While I cannot speak for all SIGs, I can speak for myself on behalf of this one. The SIG chair is an industry professional, an active member of the SIG, and an Allocation expert in his/her own right. This gives the chair a unique ability to understand the needs and concerns of the members and also foster open lines of communication between the members and JDA solution experts. The SIG chair has an open door policy – encouraging members to reach out if they have issues or concerns, to connect members with one another based on specific needs and to trouble shoot with the JDA solution experts when quick fixes are needed.
The relationship that has developed among the Allocation SIG members and JDA solution experts is one of mutual respect, true collaboration, active listening, collegiality, and yes, friendship. I find this pleasantly unique. Certainly user members do not share proprietary information but they do share information about a solution that can ultimately benefit one and all.
Yes, it is truly collaboration with a twist…