Dell Case Competition Resources

Dell resources for students participating in the Dell Case Competition: Dell's supply chain, tips and tricks for analyzing a business case and presenting your solutions.

Dell has provided the following information for you and your team: an overview of Dell's supply chain, how to analyze the Dell business case, and tips and tricks for presenting your solution.

Dell's Supply Chain

Supply chain is defined as the end-to-end management of the flow of goods and services. Supply chain at Dell is broken into five pillars: Plan, Source, Make, Deliver, and Return.

The Planning pillar is where Dell forecasts demand and supply. The organization works closely with cross-functional teams such as sales to predict how much of each Dell product will be sold in a given period. Planning then signals that prediction or forecast to the rest of the Dell supply chain.

Sourcing, also known as procurement, manages Dell's supplier relationships. This organization procures the material needed based on the planning’s forecast, as well as any buffer stock in case actual sales are higher than forecasted. Sourcing also determines which suppliers Dell works with and how much business is given to each supplier (also known as Dell's sourcing strategy).

Next is the Make pillar. This primarily consists of manufacturing where Dell products are made. There are three models of manufacturing at Dell.

  1. The first model is Dell-owned factories. The factory, as well as the factory equipment, is owned by Dell, and the factory workers are Dell employees.
  2. The second Dell model is partnering with ODMs (original design manufacturers). ODMs are companies that work closely with Dell to help design and manufacture the products.
  3. Finally, the third Dell model, contract manufacturers, is like an ODM except contract manufacturers are not involved in the design of the product. Dell provides the designs, and the contract manufacturer makes the products.

In ODMs and contract manufacturers, the factories, equipment, and labor are not owned by Dell. Dell has outsourced manufacturing to these companies.

One of the main activities within manufacturing is capacity planning. The Dell teams work with our partners to ensure there is the right number of factory lines set up and enough, but not too many, workers scheduled to build systems based on the forecast.

Once the products are built in the factories or ODMs, we need to Deliver the orders to our customers. Dell's logistics and fulfillment organization ensures deliveries are on time for the Dell customer and the organization uses the best mode of transportation for each customer's order.

The final piece of Dell's end-to-end supply chain is Returns. This team is responsible for handling customer returns, exchanges, or part replacements on systems.

While all Dell teams have different responsibilities, they work closely together to ensure Dell is providing the right product to the right customer at the right time.

What Makes Dell's Supply Chain Unique?

When Dell first began in 1984, one of its unique differentiators was its supply chain and business model. Originally, all Dell products sold followed a CTO (configure-to-order) model. This meant every time a customer logged onto to order a computer, Dell would configure the customer's order exactly as they wanted it. After the customer order was placed, Dell would build the order, meaning the order was paid for before having the materials to build it. Every product built was already sold, and Dell didn’t carry finished goods inventory. Dell has grown throughout the years and now follows both CTO and BTS models. BTS, or build-to-stock, where Dell makes pre-configured computers and stores them in a fulfillment center before the sale of the computers - this is more of a traditional fulfillment model. BTS provides faster service to Dell customers who want a standard product. Dell always puts its customers first, so CTO was originally introduced for order customization and now BTS has been added to provide the Dell customer who wants speed and simplicity.

Overall, Dell’s supply chain is considered one of the best in the industry, and a key factor in the company’s success.

Tips and Tricks for the Dell Case Competition

Simplify the problem statement and don’t get “stuck in the weeds.” A case could ask for several deliverables that may seem daunting at first. To avoid getting too bogged down, break one large problem into several smaller problems.

Don’t be afraid to make assumptions. Like the real world, you will never have perfect data that will lead you to one exact right answer. There will be times you will have to make assumptions to develop a recommendation. Document your assumptions, be able to talk through them, and use them to drive your decision!

While you will need to leverage the data provided to you in the case, don’t be afraid to do outside research. Understanding the topic and what’s happening in the real world can offer you a unique perspective.

Tips and Tricks for your Final Presentation

You and your team will present your final recommendations to a panel of Dell Technologies judges. Below are some tips for building an effective presentation.

Your presentation should be telling a story. The most engaging presentations build context and are relatable to the audience.

Format your presentation so that you are providing recommendations first. At Dell, recommendations are outlined at the beginning of the presentation and then a walkthrough is provided supporting the recommendations. This helps keep the audience engaged throughout the presentation while giving leadership an answer upfront.

Slides should be an aid for your presentation. Good presenters do not read straight from their slides - they use slides only as a reference.

Be thoughtful about what is included in your slides. Again, slides should be an aid to the presentation, not word for word what you are planning on saying. Everything on your slides should serve a purpose to the story you are telling. Don’t put data on a slide just for the sake of providing data, make sure it relates to what you are presenting.

Focus your presentation on the audience. Take some time to think about your audience and what they care about. Be thoughtful of their priorities and what they are going to want to see in your presentation and any questions they might ask.