Q&A with Eric McBride at Barkawi Management Consultants

Q&A with Eric McBride, Operational Excellence Practice Lead, Barkawi 


  • What is your role within the company? I’m the Operational Excellence Practice Leader. I work in the North America office with about half of the company, but we are actually based in Munich.
  • What are Barkawi’s major goals over the next 5 years? Growth! We want to grow our revenue by 5X over the next 5 years.


  • With whom are you currently partnered? Kinaxis is our main partner right now. We also work with PTC Corporation, E2Open, and Service Max.
  • How did you first hear about River Logic? We first met River Logic at the annual Gartner Supply Chain Conference in Phoenix, AZ back in 2016.

Business Challenges & Solution Selection

  • What unique value offering did River Logic have that motivated you to partner with us?
 Simple: River Logic has offerings that our other partner vendors don’t have.
  • For one, it enables scope and scale for us. Vendors like Kinaxis and E2Open require much larger implementations and are significantly more resource intensive. They’re not good for smaller projects that need to scale or smaller companies that don’t want to invest as much.
  • River Logic gives us a smaller, bite-sized product that’s able to quickly solve detailed optimization problems (and simulation problems, to an extent). We do have our own optimization product called Decision Support Platform (DSP), but it needs a lot of coding and configuration — River Logic does not. Therefore, River Logic is much better suited for more routine yet complex problems.

  • What’s your experience with prescriptive analytics, and how do you plan to leverage it initially? I wasn’t that familiar with it, and we are just beginning to scratch the surface. We’re all very excited to learn more and see how we can morph as a team and apply it to different, unique problems. Our initial applications will be around portfolio management, capacity planning and S&OP to some extent, if a company is looking for a less expensive solution.
  • How were you addressing these problems previously? We’ve been using DSP, our in-house optimization tool. Like I said previously, it’s a great tool for certain unique problems, but it’s a slow implementation and takes a lot of coding and resources. For more routine problems, something like River Logic is much faster to apply and, because of its gooey design, it’s something that the client could run with and continue to build on after we’ve implemented it.


  • Did you consider any other partners/solutions to address these problems?

    Not really; River Logic was pretty unique in its value offering — that was clear to us from the beginning.

Partnering with River Logic

  • What made you confident in selecting River Logic as a partner? Here in the U.S., we have a lot of former software consultants, so we’ve taken a heavy software implementation slant in the past. However, in establishing this new Operational Excellence practice, we’re trying to get back to our roots: strategy and management consulting. River Logic is a great solution to help propel this initiative forward, because we can solve those strategic problems for clients internally and then also have the option to use it as a leave-behind tool for our clients to solve their own strategic problems. So, the timing fit very well with our objectives.
  • Are you creating any new roles specifically around River Logic? Right now, we have one person trained as a modeler on Enterprise Optimizer®, River Logic’s modeling and optimization solution, and soon someone will be trained on PowerBI. We have people trained on Qlik and Tableau, and we know they can be integrated with River Logic, but we still feel we need someone who knows PowerBI as well. Down the line, we’ll probably have several people become modelers and have a whole little internal modeling team.
  • How easy was the onboarding process with River Logic? Honestly, we needed at a bit of a slower timeline, and River Logic did a good job of supporting that. I’m sure it could’ve been faster, had our situation been different, but they adapted to our needs.

Prescriptive Analytics

  • What are the primary use case / industries you plan on addressing w/ prescriptive / River Logic? Barkawi’s customer portfolio spans anyone in discrete manufacturing (Mercedes Benz, semi-conductors, medical devices, food and beverage, etc.). We may consider some industries in continuous production, but we’re staying busy in the discrete space right now. In addition to what I mentioned previously (portfolio management, capacity planning, S&OP) we may explore some capacity planning, network optimization, and potentially things like value stream mapping and process improvements. Product productivity and inventory optimization are the two biggest pain points of customers — and, of course, forecasting!
  • How will River Logic help you expand into different industries / market spaces? We hope that it’s going to enable us to do more for existing clients, things that are a bit smaller scale but require fast yet affordable implementations. Maybe, the right next step for smaller companies who aren’t ready for an E2Open or a Kinaxis is to start with River Logic, especially since the platform is built to scale quickly.
  • How is Barkawi uniquely qualified to deliver prescriptive analytics / River Logic to the markets you’re going after? In our DNA, we’re a strategy and management consulting company. We understand how to frame and solve problems. Our U.S. branch is run by former software people, so they really understand software and implementations. A lot of consulting firms out there are one or the other — but we’re both. In fact, our CEO Mike Landry was Founder and CEO of Servigistics, a software company that’s now part of our Partner, PTC Corporation.

Educating Others

  • How do you plan on driving adoption of RLI within Barkawi? I’ll be the main point of contact and the primary evangelizer. It’s really just about teaching people what this tool is and, when they hear this type of problem, they know that River Logic is a potential solution. We’ve also been preparing one-pagers as collateral that incorporate River Logic and have added base slides into our proposal deck. We also do a company retreat each May, which is another chance for me to speak to River Logic and continue to evangelize across the network. We’re a company of 80 people across North America, but only 15 of us are based in Atlanta — we’re pretty spread out, so these retreats are crucial.
  • What roles do you plan on targeting to sell River Logic to current / new clients? We mainly plan on targeting people in Supply Chain, like VPs and Directors. We may even do a bit on the Marketing side, because of the overlap of Supply Chain and portfolio management, i.e., understanding the impact of new product introductions and knowing when to do what. Prescriptive analytics is ideal to tackle that problem.
  • Do you anticipate any objections/barriers to adoption and how do you plan on overcoming those? People think that what they have is “good enough,” which it’s usually not. We also see people that think “it can’t be done.” I think simple demos and Proofs of Value will go a long way in addressing these barriers. They’ll either spend a little money to prove to themselves that what they have really does work, or we’ll prove that River Logic really can do what it says and add more value.
  • What advice can you give to young consultants wanting to be at the forefront of advanced analytics? Take a computer programming class! And not because you’ll be applying computer programming, it mainly just helps you understand the way computers work. You’ll have a better grasp on understanding how to analytically solve a problem and will be able to have more informed conversations. People also need to understand “lean” ideas.

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