Future-proofing Your Supply Chain

February 21st, 2020

Disruptions abound in supply chain circles. Just consider any of the following recent events: the tariff war, global unrest, the Coronavirus, natural disasters such as the volcano in the Philippines, the Hong Kong protests and more.

We have never had a client that could claim that 100% of the extended supply chain (from suppliers’ suppliers to customers’ customers) was inside the U.S. So, we have to be prepared to navigate these types of disruptions and the related impacts.

Disruptions certainly go beyond your physical supply chain. What about your human capital, technologies (accompanied with processes) and strategies? Refer to our article on future-proofing your skills gap and assess which risks might be on the horizon in your industry.

When it comes to technologies, there is no doubt that emerging technologies are gaining steam and are starting to transform supply chains. Just consider the application of collaborative robots, automation, RPA (robotic process automation), artificial intelligence, IoT, blockchain, and predictive analytics to name a few. Big name companies are dropping big dollars into these technologies. When thinking about strategy, remember strategy is no longer a multi-year exercise. We must be thinking in terms of strategic sprints. Who knows what will happen beyond a year out!

Several high-level categories should be assessed as you think about your supply chain:

  1. Sourcing – Are you sourcing from China? Is this a viable path forward to source 100% from China? There are increased risk factors to consider. Listen to an interview I conducted with John Tulac, international business attorney, on future-proofing and doing business with China. It is time to reevaluate your supply chain footprint.
  2. Logistics – There are significant disruptors transforming this industry, ranging from e-commerce and the the Omni-channel to robotics, additive manufacturing and the digitization of the supply chain. If you aren’t incorporating these impacts in future-proofing your supply chain, you will be left in the dust. These are concepts of focus for the consortium for logistics success in the Inland Empire to enable companies to stay informed and keep up with the fast pace of change.
  3. Manufacturing – Industry 4.0 is transforming manufacturing and changing the landscape. It will be a pivotal year that separates the winners vs the losers as advances are made. See what the National Association of Manufacturers’ Leadership Council sees as critical issues
  4. Demand & Supply – There is no doubt, there is a keen interest by business owners, executives and private equity leaders on creating predictable demand and forecasting sales. The more we understand our demand plan, the better our operational performance, supplier performance and customer performance. Read about SIOP (sales, inventory, operations planning) and how it can help future-proof this area.
  5. Inventory – As the disruptions abound and executives fear a slow-down, the proactive management of inventory and advanced collaborative programs are gaining in relevance. Pick up some tips and strategies in our recent article ” Inventory Management as Fashionable as Automated Intelligence for Distributors” for ACHR News.
  6. Metrics & Predictive analytics – Keeping a pulse on performance should remain a top priority while forecasting what will be needed.

Getting ahead of the curve might be the only avenue to success. Consider creating a resilient supply chain and future-proofing your supply chain. Stay tuned and read more about it, and If you are interested in discussing a supply chain assessment, please contact us.

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Made in Vietnam

Forget About Reducing Inventory; Perhaps You Have the Wrong Supply Chain Strategy



Manufacturing Expert, Lisa Anderson, Gauges Last Decade Advancement to Position the Next

January 31st, 2020

CLAREMONT, CALIFORNIA – January 29, 2020 –  Manufacturing and Supply Chain Expert,  Lisa Anderson, MBA, CSCP, CLTD, president of LMA Consulting Group Inc., reaffirms that advancements in manufacturing during the 2010’s has positioned manufacturing for exponential growth in the 2020’s. LMA Consulting Group works with manufacturers and distributors on strategy and end-to-end supply chain transformation to maximize the customer experience and enable profitable, scalable, dramatic business growth.

“There was so much advancement going on in manufacturing during the last decade that it is almost a blur.  The Amazon Effect, Skills Gap and Digital Revolution have all uniquely impacted manufacturing and the supply chain,” Ms. Anderson comments.

The Amazon Effect has pushed manufacturers to accommodate ecommerce-like orders – more frequent and smaller.  Rapid delivery has also become the new normal.  “The Amazon effect highlighted the need to raise the bar on the customer experience. 24/7 accessibility, customized product and service with a quick turnaround and easy returns have become commonplace, creating a shift in inventory strategy and an increased interest in advanced manufacturing,” she said.

The Skills Gap has grown over the last decade, exacerbated by the low unemployment rate.  “Manufacturers are in a perfect storm, the Baby Boomers with a significant knowledge-base are retiring at the rate of 10,000 a day.  That, coupled with the advancements in technology that have changed the types of jobs in the sector, make it difficult to find the right people with the skill sets needed,” she noted.

The Digital Revolution transformed manufacturing. “There was little ramp up to 3-D printing, IoT (Internet of Things), Artificial Intelligence (AI), Robotics and Automation.  It was almost like one day they were proven and appeared.  This took many by surprise and was a little intimidating.  Yet, those who have taken time to integrate digitization into their organization are already seeing results,” she said.

In 2020, the customer experience and future proofing manufacturing and the supply chain will fast-track proactive manufacturers to stand ahead of the competition and position them for exponential growth. “There are opportunities to export. And, while in the last decade we thought outsourcing overseas was the answer, the trade wars and tariffs along with recent requirements that China put into place has been giving manufacturers pause. Future-proofing requires looking at the business at 360° and driving change,” she concluded.

Ms. Anderson was recently appointed to the Department of Commerce, District Export Council of the Inland Empire. Her collection of 2020 Predictions from Manufacturing & Logistics Executives will be released in February 2020.

About LMA Consulting Group – Lisa Anderson, MBA, CSCP, CLTD

Lisa Anderson is the founder and president of LMA Consulting Group, Inc., a consulting firm that specializes in manufacturing strategy and end-to-end supply chain transformation.  She focuses on maximizing the customer experience and enabling profitable, scalable, dramatic business growth. Ms. Anderson is a recognized Supply Chain thought leader by SelectHub, named a Top 40 B2B Tech Influencer by arketi group, 50 ERP Influencer by Washington-Frank, a top 46 most influential in Supply Chain by SAP and named a top woman influencer by Solutions Review. She recently published, I’ve Been Thinking, 101 strategies for creating bold customer promises and profits. A regular content contributor on topics including a superior customer experience with SIOP, advancing innovation and making the supply chain resilient, Ms. Anderson is regularly interviewed and quoted by publications such as Industry Week, tED magazine and the Wall Street Journal.  For information, to sign up for her Profit Through PeopleTM Newsletter or for a copy of her book, visit LMA-ConsultingGroup.com.             ###

Media Contact
Kathleen McEntee | Kathleen McEntee & Associates, Ltd. | p. (760) 262 – 4080 | KMcEntee@KMcEnteeAssoc.com   



Made in Vietnam?

January 19th, 2020

Vietnam has been the hot topic lately. After a visit recently, I saw first-hand the potential along with the challenges. Clients are definitely evaluating changing the source of supply to Vietnam. And the question is: should they? Or, alternatively, the question is: Are they moving fast enough?

Although there are infrastructure issues, the most successful clients are already ahead of the curve and seriously considering Vietnam. Of course, it is not best for all products and situations, just as China wasn’t best for all situations previously. If you are starting to see price increases in China and are concerned about the quality and reliability as China is struggling, it is definitely something to consider. Consider this fact – many Chinese companies are moving production to Vietnam.  Obviously there is something to be said for evaluating this source of supply.

Vietnam likes manufacturing and the United States. One of my proactive clients has been moving a significant portion of their supply from China to Vietnam over the last year. They started the process before the tariffs because they expected to save significantly with Vietnam production.  However, they really looked like heroes to their Board when they also beat the Chinese tariffs with the move.

This does NOT mean it will always make sense. We also have clients who outsourced to China a long time ago when it was the latest “fad”. In fact, the tide turned over the last several years.  The total cost of the product as well as the gains in customer satisfaction of sourcing closer to customer demand (typically in N.A.) makes a lot more sense.  Unfortunately for them, most of the companies in this situation haven’t changed supply yet due to capital and infrastructure costs and related efforts to move the source of supply. Yet it can be done. Our client reevaluated and started the transition to Vietnam. Recently, the tariffs are forcing several to re-think the China strategy, but is it “too late”? Are you going to wait for the next tariff scenario where you are on the defensive or are you gong to proactively reevaluate your entire strategy?

Certainly part of what you’ll need to evaluate is your working capital requirements. How does China compare with Vietnam? Both require an extended supply chain. Generally speaking, the longer lead times to cross the ocean carry working capital requirements. As customers become more demanding, you’ll need to consider inventory as a key component to your sourcing decisions. Pick up some tips and strategies in our recent article ” Inventory Management as Fashionable as Automated Intelligence for Distributors” for ACHR News.

Getting ahead of the curve might be the only avenue to success. When looking at China vs. Vietnam, it is quite clear that China is significantly larger and has far more manufacturing capability.  Yet, those early to Vietnam won’t have to worry about this particular issue.  And, of course Vietnam is racing to catch up.

Whether you have sourcing in China, Vietnam or neither, the underlying point is essential. Are you constantly revisiting your supply chain strategy? If not, you’ll likely be left following your competitors. Instead, consider future-proofing your manufacturing and supply chain business. Stay tuned and read more about it.

If you are interested in discussing a supply chain assessment, please contact us.

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The Strongest Link in Your Supply Chain



NOW is the Time to Invest in Employees

January 13th, 2020

Are you investing in your employees? If you have employees who want to do a good job but who don’t have the tools and skills to accomplish this goal, you’ll end up with frustrated employees who are not engaged. What percentage of your employees do you think are in this position? In our client experience, 70% of employees fall in this category!

Frustrated and not actively engaged employees do not deliver results. Not only are you wasting incredible talent, but you have unhappy employees to boot. There are countless statistics that tell us the dramatic impact of unhappy employees. According to a SHRM article, highly engaged employees were 5 times less likely to have a safety incident. In a separate example, increased employee engagement at Caterpillar saved the company millions in decreased attrition, absenteeism and overtime. It is certainly noteworthy!

According to our featured interview with the EVP of Operations at Fender Guitar, investing in employees in all seasons is key to success. Listen to our interview and how many of the core takeaways relate to investing in employees. It should give us pause to re-think our focus on all sorts of programs that don’t seem to deliver results. Instead, we should focus on our employees.

So, what are some ways we can invest in employees? Here are a few we’ve seen to deliver exceptional value:

  1. Gratitude – A simple thank you can go a long way!
  2. Specific feedback – Although all managers seem to fear providing feedback, the best employees value constructive feedback as well as genuine and specific positive feedback.
  3. Assign a mentor – This can bring meaningful and profound change and results. People learn by watching examples and trying new ideas with immediate feedback. That is what mentoring is all about when done well!
  4. Training programs – Building skills and gaining fundamental concepts are the essential building blocks of success. For example, for supply chain and operations professionals, the Association for Supply Chain Management’s APICS certificiations are best in class.
  5. Special programs for the “best of the best” – Instead of investing in our under performing employees by default, why not take the proactive approach and put together a special program with special experiences and training opportunities for your stars?
  6. Opportunities to try new approaches – One of the most important pieces to invest in employees is to allow employees to try new ideas. We must expect failure in our quest for success. Thus, it will require an investment of time, resources and potentially resolving the consequences of failures along the way.
  7. Celebrate success – Lastly, we should celebrate progress and success. As obvious as this seems, it isn’t commonplace.

Investing in employees is the best way to future-proof your manufacturing and supply chain. In fact, it is also the best way to future-proof your technology road map. Perhaps it is time to re-think your approach to investing in employees AND automation. These are not separate concepts as robots and autonomous vehicles will not work separately from human capital and talent. The most successful executives understand that the secret to success is how to invest strategically into both.

If you’d like an assessment of where you should invest (time, resources, money) to maximize your employee engagement and your business value, contact us if you’d like to assess your situation.

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All Roads Lead Back to People

December 30th, 2019

All roads lead back to people. In working with executives from diverse industries of aerospace, building products, healthcare and food & beverage, whether a $10 million dollar family-owned business, a $50 million dollar private-equity backed company or a multi-billion dollar global conglomerate, the most successful have the best people. Little else seems to matter. The best strategies are destroyed by poor leaders, and the most mediocre of plans are wildly successful with the right leaders.

Since many of our clients are manufacturers, and October is manufacturing month, we thought it would be the ideal time to remind you that “all roads go back to leaders”. As much as it is relevant to stay on top of the latest technologies (learn more about artificial intelligence and computer vision in our “Just for Clients Section”) and search for the best practices for your business (such as SIOP (sales, inventory, operations planning) and lean manufacturing), it is even more important to think about your people. In fact, if you have the ‘right’ people, the rest will fall into place.

When thinking about people, you should consider several important groups:

  • New hires – Spend more time ensuring you have the ‘right’ person before wasting time and energy on a non-performer! Stop thinking about job descriptions and tasks.  Instead, think about what results you need and whether the person you are interviewing can ‘turn them into a reality’.
  • Your employeesThe most important category is your employees. If your people aren’t involved and interested, how do you expect to create fans of your customers?
  • Your suppliers – Do you consider your suppliers an extension of your team? You should! They can make or break your success.
  • Your customers – Certainly, there is such a thing as choosing the ‘wrong’ customer. Are you just taking any customer that comes your way or are you making sure they are a good fit for your business? Some customers will take you to new heights and others will send you accelerating backwards.
  • Your trusted advisors – Pay attention to who you listen to! Bad advice is far worse than no advice at all. As trusted advisors, we can attest that when our clients find ‘inexpensive advice’.  They come running to us because they tied up people getting nothing accomplished, or worse, the situation has gotten worse! In addition, having the ‘right’ banking, financial and legal advice at the ‘right’ time can prove invaluable.
  • Your trade & professional organizations, alumni groups etc. – The story is very similar to trusted advisors. You can gain invaluable insight and resources if you consider your network an important aspect of your business.

Watch our interview with  Ismael Reyes, Jr. and Cindy Baughman of Ingram Micro, the Manufacturing Council of the Inland Empire’s Innovation Award winners. We talk about the relevance and importance of talent and leadership as well as the dramatic impact it can have on bottom line results. They achieved over a million dollars in savings in process improvements.  And, they consider the key to success to go back to people.

Are you interested in bottom line improvement AND/or developing a superior customer experience? If so, start with your people!

If you are interested in an assessment of how you stand vs. the industry norm and would like recommendations and priorities to drive results, read through our articles for ideas or contact us to discuss further.