Top Two Issues According to Wells Fargo Customers

January 18th, 2019

In listening to a Wells Fargo commercial banking executive’s speech, he mentioned that the two top issues as we head into 2019 according to clients are:  labor (shortages) and cyber-security. This isn’t surprising, given what our clients face. We cannot think of a client who isn’t experiencing some sort of talent shortage.  Luckily, the same is not true for cyber-security.  Yet, it is a relevant, pressing and serious topic. When it rains, it pours BIG TIME when it comes to cyber-security.  Are you proactively addressing these topics?

What Should We Consider and/or What Impacts Could Arise?
For talent and labor shortages, it is often more complex than our clients need “2 more people”.  Invariably, they might have the “right” number of people in total.  Yet. they may not have what they need.  One of the following is often the issue: 1) Skills aren’t allocated properly. 2) There isn’t enough of specific skills and more than needed in others.  3) Cross-training is lacking. 4) People are not working to their maximum (or even regular) potential.

One of the best places to start is to understand your situation.  Don’t think about whether you can afford it or where you’ll cut back to afford it.  Just start by understanding your situation. We often go into clients and find “hidden” talents. Actually,m it occurs more frequently than you’d think. The good news is that these “hidden” talents can often be reallocated for the benefit of the organization almost immediately – at least a lot quicker than hiring and assimilating new talent.  We also typically find people who are not working to regular, let alone, maximum potential. Why? Because they might be working in an area that doesn’t align with their best skills or they work for someone who is stifling their progress. Finding these hidden opportunities can avoid making new hires for the vast majority of clients.

Beyond talent, you had better protect your company from cyber-security threats.  It is as simple as “get an expert immediately if you aren’t already working with one”, no matter your organization’s size.  Small organizations are more likely to be attacked! I’m happy to refer you to a top notch organization. Contact me if you are interested.

Are you searching for these opportunities and addressing risks?  They will certainly create a more resilient organization. For additional strategies to create a resilient supply chain, check out our new series:

 



What’s Ahead for Supply Chain?

January 18th, 2019

To think about what’s ahead in supply chain, it is important to put it in perspective with what’s ahead in business.  Read our article, What’s Ahead in Business? for details on the key trends impacting business:

  • Importance of the customer experience
  • Taking the holistic view has become a “must”
  • Volatility is the new norm
  • The coming power of manufacturing and supply chain

Given these trends, we predict our most successful clients will be thinking about these themes in the end-to-end supply chain:

  1.  Manufacturing is the Place to Be: Manufacturers are uniquely positioned to thrive. I have to say, I love that manufacturing is getting its due. According to NAM, for every $1 spent in manufacturing, $1.89 is added to the economy which is the highest multiplier of any economic sector.  
  2.  Distributed Inventory Management will be Key to Manufacturing Success: In today’s Amazon-impacted business environment, the customer expects rapid, low cost delivery. Given that the “last mile” has also become “last minute” with customers changing their mind frequently, predictive, distributed inventory management has become a differentiator.   
  3.  Additive Manufacturing will Rise to the Top: Customers want customized products on the fly. Yet, distributors cannot stock everything near every manufacturer, end user and the like. 3D printing can achieve this goal.
  4.  Customized, Rapid Delivery with Amazon-like Service and Efficiency is the Norm: In addition to additive manufacturing, re-shoring and near-sourcing (locating close to customers) are viable solutions to achieve Amazon-like service. The question is how to be efficient, cost effective and visible while serving customers.
  5.  Amazon Prime for Manufacturers is More than a Pipe Dream:  Subscription based models are becoming relevant to manufacturing, just as to Netflix and ERP systems. According to my friend, colleague and author Robbie Baxter, the membership model is just as relevant in manufacturing in transitioning from a one transaction/one-way communication to an ongoing relationship with the customer with a constant stream of feedback.  
  6.  We are Moving to a Digitized Supply Chain:  To address customers’ elevated expectations while continuing to make a profit, manufacturers and supply chain organizations are moving to a digitized supply chain. Artificial intelligence, IoT, the smart factory, robots and more. Don’t embrace technology as a fad.  Instead, embrace technology as a way to achieve a result.
  7.  To succeed, We Must Create a Resilient Supply Chain: Disruptions and volatility abound. Customers expect more. Boards expect more. People are harder to find and retain. Creating a resilient supply chain enables a proactive response to the current environment.

What will you do to get ahead of the curve in the New Year?

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

The Strongest Link in Your Supply Chain

What’s Next in Supply Chain?

Is Your Supply Chain Ready for Growth?



How Resilient Are Your People?

January 17th, 2019

We would be remiss if we went too far down-the-path with supply chain resiliency without pointing out that the ONLY way you’ll have a resilient supply chain is if you have resilient people.  Similar to building a house, without a solid foundation, the best accessories will fail to “hold up” over the long haul without that solid foundation.  Your team is your foundation.  Would you be willing to have your business hang in the balance if your team’s ability to “hold it up” would make or break success?  Hopefully so!

Here are a few questions to think about to determine how comfortable you are with your foundation:

  • If your competition offered your employees slightly more money, would they jump ship without much thought?
  • Are your people willing to take a risk if they know the decision will help move the company forward?
  • Are your people willing to disagree with you?
  • Are your people willing to try new ideas, even if they fail?
  • If a customer presses your people about an issue, will they blame it on “them” or will they take responsibility to resolve the issue quickly regardless of whether it has anything to do with them?
  • If changing market conditions dictate they should follow a new course that isn’t popular or approved, will they bring it up?
  • What do they say to your customers and suppliers when you aren’t listening?

Every executive at our Harvey Mudd executive roundtables and on the APICS-IE executive panel pointed out the relevance of culture and your people on business success.  Technical topics are abuzz but the REAL buzz is who has the strongest team as they will speed on by the competition and be the most resilient as the economy turns, the industry changes, a disruptor emerges etc.  With this fresh perspective, it pays to think again about your team and the priority you give it.



Koalas, Kangaroos & Why Good Contacts Matter

January 15th, 2019

 

When I was in Australia last month, I had a day and a half to tour the Melbourne area after my global strategy session and seeing my cousin.  Since it was my first time to this area and I don’t know if/when I’ll return, I figured it was a good idea to see whatever I could while there.  Luckily, I thought about the person who helped set up an Australia/ New Zealand trip for me previously when I traveled with friends and asked her for a recommendation since she did a great job with our multi-week adventure.  Because of her recommendation, I went on the only tour that actually sees koalas and kangaroos in the wild as well as many great sites on the rest of the tours.

If I hadn’t kept track of “good contacts”, I would have missed this.  Do you keep track of yours and nurture them?

One tip to implement this week:
Do you keep track of your contacts? Writing this note reminded me to thank my contact at American Express travel.  Realizing that I forgot her name, I looked it up in my contacts.  It seems like the place to start to keep track of them. No need to purchase expensive programs. I use Outlook and was able to find her quickly.

Keeping track is not enough though. When I contacted her to ask about my day in Melbourne, I referred back to when we worked together previously. She remembered me and gave me exactly what I needed with rapid response and no charge. Thus, reminding the person where you met previously and being easy to work with can help down-the-road. I had no clue I’d ever call her to ask for help, but I did.

Most importantly, go that extra mile to stay in touch. Why not tell your contact about an event you think might interest her? Or, simply give him a call around the holidays or send a quick ‘thank you’. While typing this note, my contact responded to my email and was thrilled I had a good time.

Take a few minutes out of your schedule this week and pick up the phone or drop a contact a note.



The Resilient Supply Chain: Top Requests from Clients on Technology

January 11th, 2019

Next in our supply chain resiliency value series, we are sharing a short video on the relevance of ERP and e-commerce systems from the Manufacturing Summit’s panel “Amazon Effect: Pass or Play – the New Sales & Distribution Game and How it Affects Manufacturing”.

I’m responding to a question on what manufacturers and distributors need when it comes to systems and technology.  Every client in the last few years has requested a project objective that goes back to the overarching goal of scalable, profitable growth.  The trick is how to achieve BOTH a superior customer experience (with increasing pressure from disruptors such as Amazon and Uber) AND profitable growth. Of course, there is no easy answer, and it depends on a multitude of factors. With that said, there is an ever increasing need to scale with technology inclusive of ERP, e-commerce and more.

ERP has become much more of a strategic topic. It isn’t about blocking and tackling and using ERP to achieve tactics.  Instead, it is about whether a business has the technology and systems to scale in a scalable, profitable way.

Do your systems support your customers’ needs?  If not, you had better jump into the fray or the next disruptor will eat your lunch.  If your answer was, ‘yes but I have to do x, y and z to make it work,’ our next question is will this process be repeatable, reliable and profitable?  If not, perhaps you better think twice. It is likely your competitor will answer yes.  Lastly, have you thought about your customers’ needs a year into the future?  If you aren’t prepared to handle them currently, you are getting behind.

Our most successful clients don’t wait so long that they lag behind. Is it time for an upgrade?  You are most welcome to our free resources to determine whether it is  the ‘right’ time. As you debate the benefits vs. costs, keep in mind that as hard as it is to take the leap, the most successful executives are willing to take on prudent risk to make leaps forward.  Are you?

If you would like an expert to assess your situation to determine whether you should further leverage your current software, put the effort into upgrading or simply focus on people and process improvement opportunities, contact us.