Sunday, February 19, 2006

Microsoft collaborates with DHL on XBox case

For video gamers eagerly anticipating the launch of Microsoft's Xbox 360 gaming platform last year, the wait ended with the November 22 U.S. product launch and the December 2 European rollout of the new game console.

But for Microsoft and its long-time logistics partner DHL, the game's debut marked the culmination of a year's worth of planning and execution dedicated to one objective: moving thousands of Xboxes across three continents, on time and on schedule, into the hands of the game's fans.

The lesson: an agile supply chain, employing a variety of transportation modes, is a critical component of ensuring a smooth global product launch.

Long-time Collaboration

"Microsoft set specific deadlines and promised the world it would meet them," said Jane Sabin-Pass, global customer manager for DHL Global Customer Solutions. "In so doing, Microsoft challenged DHL to think creatively and to anticipate the unpredictable scenarios that often accompany a major product launch during peak season. The precise delivery schedules were a testament to the skill of both companies to link the global supply chain with flawless accuracy and transparency."

The Xbox 360 project drew upon 15 years of collaboration between Microsoft and DHL, which included the rollout of the first Xbox console in November 2001. According to DHL, knowledge of each other's systems and processes played a vital role in expediting Xbox 360 launch schedules, reducing implementation lead times and meeting strict deadlines.

Launch planning began in November 2004 when both companies mapped out shipping strategies and laid the foundation for the information technology (IT) network that would serve as the project's central nervous system. By August 2005, with the first of the Xbox 360s ready to ship, the project shifted into high gear.