The Manufacturing Forum and the Value of Relationships

September 21st, 2017

Business relationships are the key to success. Although we need to be technically competent, able to communicate our plans and ideas and write a decent email (not as common as you’d think!), we still will not get far in our career if we do not value relationships. Although this is obviously true for sales and marketing resources, it is JUST as true for every professional – from operations to finance resources.

Last week, I spoke about the Amazon Effect on the Manufacturing Industry at the Rancho Cucamonga Chamber of Commerce’s Manufacturing Forum. It is always fun talking with a new group and widening my relationship network with manufacturing companies, as it gives me additional insights into manufacturing trends and what is critical to success. I see it as a win-win – the manufacturing executives gain ideas for success and I gain additional insights that can help my clients achieve greater success. And we ALL gain valuable industry relationships. I cannot take credit for this event idea. Ruby Huey, Vice President, Relationship Manager of Citizens Business Bank and the 2017-2018 Chairwoman of the Rancho Chamber came up with the idea, put the agenda together and coordinated the event. Here we are pictured below.

Lisa Anderson with Ruby Huey

Lisa Anderson with Ruby Huey at the Rancho Cucamonga Chamber of Commerce Manufacturing Forum

One tip to implement this week: 

Who do we call when the chips are down? Who do we call if we need fresh ideas? Who do we call if we need a quick turnaround for a product or service? Who do we call when we need bank financing? You might not have “your person” for every one of these scenarios, but I hope you have someone pop into mind. Pick your best suppliers, customers, employees, colleagues, industry association contacts and more. Start with one category that makes the most sense for you. Who do you know? Is there anyone you wouldn’t want to lose touch with? Perhaps that’s a good place to start. Put some effort into your relationships and start by finding a way to help the other person. If you provide value to one additional person this week, you’ll be off to a great start.

 



IBM, MIT & Artificial Intelligence

September 15th, 2017

Supply Chain Briefing

IBM has announced it plans to spend $240 million over the next ten years to develop an artificial intelligence (AI) research lab with the Massachusetts Institute of Technology (MIT). Anytime these two powerhouses collaborate and put their money where their mouth is, we should at least pay attention and consider the significance. AI is popping up in conversations everywhere as all type of organizations and industries are seeing the significance of AI technology. I don’t even have to look very far. My mom said her Amazon Alexa was one of the best presents she has ever received. (And that’s solely for the ease of the alarm!)

The future of artificial intelligence

What Should We Consider and/or What Impacts Could Arise?

Artificial intelligence is certainly a hot topic! However, it isn’t just hype. Proctor & Gamble improved unplanned downtime by 10-20% with AI. Siemens is using AI to optimize industrial facilities and is employing it for a wide variety of other applications in areas such as energy distribution, electric motors, and rail technology. There are a vast number of uses. It’s time to start thinking about how it could affect your industry.

Are any of your current partners (suppliers, IT/ERP etc.) researching AI?  You do not have to do it alone. Do you want to lead these efforts or pay attention to what is going on around you? Or, perhaps like IBM and MIT, you want to create a new partnership? It is a strategic decision. One way or another, if you aren’t at least paying attention, you will be passed by.

 

Read more about technology trends in supply chain.

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The Calm of Muir Woods and Why Disconnecting Works

September 12th, 2017

I've Been Thinking

 

Over Labor Day, I went to beautiful San Francisco for a weekend away, prepared for the “coldest winter ever spent is a summer in San Francisco“, and it turned out with record-setting temperatures over 100 degrees! So, after a food walking tour in the thick of the heat on Saturday in the Mission District, I thought my first visit to Muir Woods might provide some welcome relief on Sunday – and it did. Muir Woods is beautiful and calm. It can be a great way to get away from the rat race by going somewhere you can hear the babbling brooks and be a small speck among the majestic trees. How often are you able to get away where you can hear beyond conversations, traffic and phones?

Muir Woods

Majestic Muir Woods

 

One tip to implement this week: 

How often would a day – or even an hour – away to a place where you can hear yourself think be valuable? I find that most of the BEST ideas show up when you empty your mind. Unfortunately for most of us, we try to force ideas when we are in brainstorming sessions, talking with our manager or on the phone with a key customer. And many times, they are not likely to play by our tune. Instead, when we least expect an amazing idea, it shows up.

Have you ever kept working because you had to finish a critical project or report but the information just wouldn’t flow? Thirty minutes away, whether on a walk, playing with the dog or escaping into a TV show might do wonders. If you are at the office, you could walk to the other end of the building to check in on someone you haven’t seen in quite a while or you could go to a conference room or empty office and think. It doesn’t have to be an elaborate plan to be effective. Give it a try, and let me know how those ideas start flowing.

 

If you enjoyed this article, read more about how important getting a new perspective can be…

 



Even The Best System Will Fail Without Talent

September 8th, 2017

As an ERP expert, it is quite clear to me that even the best systems will fail miserably if they don’t possess talent. Don’t even bother to select and implement an ERP system if you don’t have the “right” people on the bus. Start with executive support and continue on down through every position – everything is a team effort.

Teamwork is everything

It’s paramount in business to have the “right” people at the table.

Since we’ve worked with many clients on ERP projects, it is crystal clear what impact people will have on your business’s success. Throw out the notion that ERP is a technical topic! Instead, start thinking of it as a transformation initiative of substantial importance to business success.

Talent Leads the Way to Success

There are countless ways in which talent will affect success. To name just a few:

  • The sales team at the ERP software provider. Let’s start with the people selling the system. If they aren’t geared to educate you on their system and its fit, you can be sold “a bill of goods”.
  • The implementation team at the ERP software provider – there is little as important as the particular resources you partner with to implement your system. Set it up sub-optimally and you’ll have enduring issues.
  • Your ERP team – since ERP can be such a time intensive process, the temptation is to assign non-integral people to the team since the day-to-day must carry on; however, this team is designing your future!
  • Your executive sponsors – these folks are in a critical position to understand the status, make critical decisions, consider the fit with strategy, supplement resources as required and much more. It is not for the faint of heart!

If you’d like to ensure success with your ERP system, you’ll START by considering the people.  Put more time and thought into your talent. As much as or more than you put into evaluating functionality and you’ll be grateful down-the-line.

 

Did you like this article? Continue reading on this topic:

Why ERP Success Has Little to Do with Systems

 



How To Know If Your Old Business System Is Just Fine

September 8th, 2017
Time for an upgrade?

Is it time to upgrade your business systems?

We cannot tell you how many clients call thinking they need a new system to support their business when they simply don’t! Certainly, there is a time to upgrade to a new business system, when you’ve outgrown your old one (for example: QuickBooks with add-ons like Fishbowl), or your old system is highly customized and unsustainable, or when you are in the midst of a merger or acquisition. However, before jumping to the conclusion that your system must be upgraded, think twice.

Any ERP transformation project will be expensive (more than you think!) and resource intensive. With that said, it is an absolute must to support business growth and success in some situations. Just make sure yours is one of them!

To upgrade or not to upgrade? That is the question.

It is also quite possible to extend the life of some systems. Is there a way to extend the life of your current system? We often find during analysis that there are options worth considering. It is smart to think about the timing of your upgrade and whether you can impact it. When can you dedicate the resources to ensure success? Of course, from one perspective, sometimes there is never a good time. And, on the other hand, we have seen clients wait “too long”. You don’t want to be in that club either.

Instead, complete a simple strategic analysis of your business situation and ERP needs and balance them against your current capabilities. An answer will emerge and just might “save you” either way. Perhaps you’ll be able to extend the life of your old system and maintain focus on your business OR you’ll find out that if you wait any longer, your competition will pass you by. Either way, it is better to be in front of it.

 

If this article was helpful, Continue reading on this topic:

Should You Upgrade Your ERP System?