Jump modem waiting lists

We are hearing that many partners have taken our advice and have implemented a local waiting list for customers wanting a Jump modem. We would like you to share this with us – just a short email to jump@diaa.nz would help but we have an even better idea. Read on!

We have been trying for the last month or so to target shipments to partners with high turnovers by dynamically adjusting the modem re-supply trigger level. Originally this was based on the number of modems issued during the last 3 weeks, but to try and address the waiting list situation, we have progressively extended the trigger period to 6 weeks. The objective is to ensure partners have enough stock to cover the wait time for new stock (which has now escalated to over 6 weeks).

However, this was based on the assumption that there was no waitlist. Clearly, if partners have no modems, they can’t issue them and therefore it does not truly represent actual demand.

So our cunning plan is to now include your actual waitlist in the calculations. What we would like you to do is record the names of people on your waitlist in your GDoc. Enter their first and last names (columns B & C) immediately underneath the lines with IMEI numbers and the date they joined your waiting list (column E). As modems are allocated to them and profile forms completed we will transfer them from the waiting list to the active customer list.

We know this won’t solve the modem supply chain delays – that is way outside our control – but it might help to further reduce buffer stocks and help get modems to the partners that need them the most.

We also appreciated the pro-active offer from one of our partners who were happy to relocate their slow-moving stock to another partner. We immediately sent them a courier sticker to action the offer.

We also know that some partners with multiple libraries are moving stock between their venues to try and address shortages. We totally endorse this approach, with one provisio, that you send us an email (jump@diaa.nz) advising the source and destination locations and the IMEI numbers of the modems being transferred.

“Just wondering why the stock levels don’t update”

A Jump partner recently sent me a note wondering why the stock levels didn’t update in his Jump Register after he had submitted a couple of Profile Forms.

I was pleased to receive this message because it confirmed that this partner was (a) completing profile forms; and (b) monitoring their Jump register to ensure that the GSheet record aligned with the actual number of modems they were holding.

I suspect his question arose from a misunderstanding about our back-end processes, which in all fairness, we have probably never explained. It’s all about timings.

Alistair schedules this activity into his daily calendar, and on most days, completes everything the same day, but he doesn’t work at the speed of light (like a computer does), so this means it could be up to 24 hours before the updates take effect.

The Profile Form is a Google Form that automatically populates a Google Sheet.

Alistair, one of our DIAA team, works diligently every day transferring selected information from the Jump Profile GSheet to individual Partner Jump registers. This then updates partners’ stock counts. If this triggers a re-order alert, Alistair then places an order for the supply of more modems.

Alistair also drives DORA, our mobile learning centre, and on days when he is moving the bus, he might not get to do the updates until the next day. But he never lets us down and in that sense he is undoubtedly more reliable than a computer.

Confusion about when to order Jump modems online

When two or more partners ask the same question, then it is time for me to post to this blog.

The modem shortage is causing some new issues; we currently have over 900 on order, and it will take at least 3-4 weeks to catch up, by which time we expect to have another 900 on order. As a result of this delay, partners have asked if they should use the home delivery process when they run out of modems.

Our short answer is no! We prefer that you create a waiting list – one partner this week advised us that they have a waiting list of 27! The modems we use for home deliveries come from the same supply pool as that used for partners and our priority for the online pool is for customers who cannot get to a local partner to collect a modem and for replacing faulty modems.

Our guideline for home delivery orders is that partners should only use this for customers who for some reason can not go to a local Jump partner.  We much prefer that they come to a local delivery partner where you can give them help to set up their accounts and make sure they know about the Jump app. 

However, we do encourage you to lodge an online application for people who do not have coverage or are in areas where there is no Jump capacity.  We do double-check that there is in fact no service at this address, but mainly we use this to keep Skinny updated on unsatisfied demand.

So when it is just a case of modem shortages, we encourage you to keep a waiting list, and get back in touch with your customers when further stocks of modems arrive.

Date formats matter for Jump modem counts

Everyone has their own way of writing dates, e.g. 5-Jul-2022, 05/07/22 (or if you are of North American heritage 07/05/22), 5 July 2022, 5-7-22, etc.

And for most things to do with Jump, you have been free to choose whatever format you prefer when entering dates in your Google registers.

But our new cunning plan to dynamically adjust your modem re-order triggers to reflect the number of modems you have issued during the last few weeks does care about date formats. We wondered why the trigger formula wasn’t working for some partners, when everyone had identical formulae.

A bit of detective work revealed the date problem – only dates in the 5-Jul-2022 format (our preferred format) were being recognised, so partners using other formats to record dates when modems were issued were being ignored.

Now I would like to say that this is the only reason why 80 partners are waiting for further modem supplies – but that is not the case. We have identified a small number who were using different date formats and have corrected these.

But the main problem continues to be with the supply chain, stretching right back to the manufacturer in China. It is now 3 weeks since the last batch of modems were supplied, which means many of you will have run out. I’m afraid the solution is not just a simple matter of correcting date formats.

Over 1000 modems are being supplied every month, but we know this is currently not enough to keep everyone stocked at an optimum level. We are hoping our new dynamic trigger system will help to direct modems to partners who have the highest turnover, but there are still mitigating circumstances outside our control.

So, please instruct all staff issuing Jump modems to make sure they use the preferred date format (5-Jul-2022) when recording the date of issue in your Jump Google registers.

Towards a better approach for supplying Jump modems

Every day I receive emails from at least one of our 300+ Jump delivery partners saying they have run out of modems. Our goal is for this never to happen and despite the supply chain challenges caused by Covid, we have tried a variety of approaches to smooth the flow.

We appreciated the support of many of our partners in March this year to redistribute modems they were holding to partners who were desperate for further supplies. But after a month of modem shuffles we became reliant again on the supply of new stock from Ingram Micro.

At any point we have up to 2000 modems in the pipeline, between the time of ordering and the time they arrive at a delivery partner. The challenge is to ensure that supplies arrive, where they are needed and when they are needed, without spending too much time sitting on partners’ shelves.

So today, we have implemented a new approach, called dynamic triggering. Historically our approach has been to set fixed re-supply trigger levels – when a partner’s stock dropped to the trigger level, we automatically placed an order for more supplies. This worked reasonable well when re-supply times were measured in terms of days, but now that we face up to 3 weeks (or at times even longer) to replenish stocks, this approach is not working that well.

Our new approach is to continuously adjust the trigger level, based on historical data. The trigger level for each delivery partner is now based on the number of modems they have issued during the last 3 weeks. For example if a partner has issued 10 modems during the last three weeks, their trigger level becomes 10. Assuming a relatively smooth distribution of modems, the partner should have adequate supplies to last for a further 3 weeks. If delivery times reduce, we can adjust the trigger level to a shorter period, say 2 weeks.

Partners can monitor this themselves in their Jump registers by viewing cell G2 (the dynamic trigger point) compared to their current stock levels (cell H2). When the stock level equals the trigger point, a new order is generated.

We recognise that customer demand will not always be as smooth as the above algorithm requires, but we think this is worth a shot. In particular we expect this will drive supplies to the partners with high turnovers, while minimising the amount of stock held by partners with low turnovers.

BUT, and there is one very big BUT, this does depend on partners ensuring that Profile Forms are completed for every modem issued. We need these to record the number of modems issued, which directly impacts when new orders are placed.

My measure of success will be the drop in emails to jump@diaa.nz requesting further supplies.

Please do not send Jump modem inquiries to Skinny

Some partners are continuing to contact Skinny when they have a question about the supply of modems, and as we are currently experiencing 2-3 week delays in the shipment of modems, these inquiries seem to be on the rise.

Please do not contact Skinny or the Spark Foundation (or Sue Kini for that matter) if you have a question about modem supplies. All these inquiries must go to jump@diaa.nz

Most of these inquiries relate to partners running out of modems. We clearly want to avoid this situation if at all possible. Part of the problem seems to be caused if modems are issued without Profile Forms being completed. Almost invariably, we find that when a partner reports ‘no stock’, their Google register indicates a number supposedly being available. We rely totally on the Profile Forms to update your Jump registers – when your stock drops to the pre-set trigger level (cell G2), we automatically generate a new order for you.

We aim to set the trigger level equivalent to 2-3 weeks of your turnover; if we get this right and you always complete the Profile Forms, you should never run out of modems.

This is not an exact science of course, but we do our best to smooth things out. At any point in time we have up to 2000 modems in what we call the pipeline – between the supplier and the end customer through a local delivery partner. This only represents an average of around 6 modems per partner. The combined value of this stock is around $500,000, so we try and keep the pipeline as trim as possible.

We are happy to adjust your trigger levels if you are consistently running out of modems, so please do get in touch (jump@diaa.nz) and we’ll see if we can improve things for you.

Need some more Jump modems – who are you going to call?

Well not Ghostbusters, that’s for sure. Not Skinny (refer to my earlier blog post). Not the Spark Foundation. Not a Spark retail store. Not Father Christmas.

Well then, who you might ask. Digital Inclusion Alliance Aotearoa (DIAA)- now you are getting warm. But not Eleanor. Not Leilani. Not Sue (although she seems to be the hot favourite!). Who else is there?

Laurence, Alistair and Shelley of course! Laurence handles modem inquiries through DIAA’s Jump email hotline (jump@diaa.nz) and Shelley handles modem inquiries through DIAA’s phone hotline (0800 463 422). And
Alistair handles our back office systems that keep the supply of modems flowing to you.

So please DO NOT CALL OR EMAIL anyone else on the DIAA team if your inquiry has anything to do with modem supply or distribution. This just creates an unnecessary clutter in voicemail and email in-boxes.

We have weathered the Covid storm by putting our shoulder to the wheel and creating new delivery options to ensure the modems keep flowing, so even when partners have had to shut up shop, we have simply expanded our home delivery option. But we don’t have super powers and have no control over issues in the global market such as microchip or neon shortages, resulting from Covid lockdowns in China and the war in Ukraine, respectively. Neon gas is a vital component in the laser lithography of silicon chips, and around 50% of the global supply comes out of Ukraine.

Nor can we solve New Zealand modem suppliers problems caused by large numbers of their staff having to self-isolate. Unlike many of us who can continue to work from home, these staff are hands-on, provisioning and packaging Jump modems.

What all this means is that we are all going to have to be patient. You will run out of modems. Customers waiting for home deliveries will call you to find out when their modem is going to arrive.

Please use the systems we have put in place to keep you and your customers informed:

(1) Make sure you are completing a Jump Profile form for every modem issued – this controls the re-stocking process.

(2) Check your Jump GDoc to find out when further supplies have been ordered, either from Ingram or transferred from another Jump delivery partner.

(3) Use the NZ CourierPost tracking number associated with each modem shipment to monitor progress with the delivery of modem supplies.

(4) For individual home delivery inquiries, please email jump@diaa.nz and we can give you a status report. But please note that we currently have a 7-10 day backlog with over 150 households waiting for a modem. By the time we get further supplies this backlog will have increased to over 200. We expect to make these deliveries next week.

(5) Any partner with surplus modem stock, please contact Shelley. During the last week, she has arranged the transfer of nearly 100 modems between delivery partners. Thank you to those partners who have assisted with this. She is still looking for another 200 modems to transfer.

Don’t call Skinny for modem supply issues

I have been receiving a few redirected calls from the Skinny Care team with requests from partners about modem supplies.

PLEASE DO NOT CALL THE SKINNY CARE TEAM FOR ANY DETAILS ABOUT MODEM SUPPLIES.

The Skinny Care team has no role in the supply of modems. This is our (DIAA) responsibility, working with you, our Partners.

Any inquiries about modem supplies should come to jump@diaa.nz

Thank you.

“I am down to my last Jump modem; when will more supplies arrive?”

This is one of the most frequent questions that we get asked. We do try to respond promptly to individual requests, but with over 300 delivery partners, we do get a bit swamped at times with email and phone requests.

You have access to the same information that we do, so we would like to encourage you to check this out first.

Let me remind you how to do this:

(1) Go to the GSheet Jump register for your organisation. You may need a Gmail account to do this. If you don’t know how to access this, send us an email (jump@diaa.nz) and request access. Please make sure you identify your role with Jump deliveries so that we know you are legit, as these registers contain confidential customer information. We will send you a URL link.

(2) Check Cell F4. This represents the number of unallocated modems that we think you have. If this doesn’t align with the number of modems that you actually have, then this could mean that modems have been issued without Profile Forms being completed. If this is the case, you should mark up in Column B any modems that you no longer have. Type in the word “Allocated” and you will see you stock count (cell F4) reduce by one.

(3) Note Cell G2. This is your re-supply trigger. When the number in Cell F4 reduces to the number in Cell G2, cell F4 is shaded red and this signals to us to arrange for further modems to be sent.

(4) When we place an order, we enter IMEI numbers in Column W and include the date, initials of person placing the order and the source of the modems (e.g. ex Ingram) in column X.

(5) Note the IMEI number is a 15-digit number commencing in “86…”. When modems are shipped from Ingram, there can be a short delay before we get the shipping schedules so we enter a dummy set of numbers, e.g. 860501, 860502, etc. We replace these with the full IMEI number as soon as possible.

(6) When the modems have been shipped we enter the NZ Post Courier tracking number in column Y (shaded yellow) and the shipment date in column Z. You can monitor progress by entering the tracking number into NZ Post’s website.

If all this is too confusing, or for some reason you are unable to access the GSheet, just let us know when your modem stocks are low and we can review for you.

Jump home deliveries impacted by modem shortages

As at this morning (Tuesday 8 March) we have 280 families waiting for their Jump Modem to be delivered by courier. Our last courier deliveries were on 23 February 2022, so anyone who has applied since then will still be waiting.

We are expecting 100 of these to be on the courier this week, but the others are unlikely to be sent until next week.

This is a direct result of the modem shortage discussed in my earlier post. When modems don’t arrive after soon after online application forms are completed, people do start to call partners to find out what’s going on.

Partners are welcome to get in touch with Shelley on 0800 463422 and she can check the status of the delivery.

Our goal with online applications is to ship modems the day after the application is received, but of course we can’t do this when we don’t have any stocks! So if customers do call, please kindly explain that things are taking a bit longer than usual.