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5 Ideas to Utilize Social Networks for Business Success

October 31st, 2013
Social media

Social networks are no longer just social. Businesses that want to accelerate collaboration and service their customers better are taking note. Here are 5 ideas to maximize how you utilize social networks for business success:

  1. Source suppliers:  Finding high quality, reliable and competitively priced suppliers is not as easy as it seems.  Have you considered researching options on social networks?  What do others think about their service?
  2. Collaborate with customers: Customer collaboration is gaining momentum in today’s economy as we look for win-win opportunities to gain a better perspective of demand and customer preferences.
  3. R&D:  Collaborative R&D can achieve a win-win-win if multiple internal
    and external supply chain partners are brought into the process from the beginning.
  4. Training:  What better way to show employees, potential customers and current customers your product features.  There are countless opportunities to transfer knowledge with this medium.
  5. Customer input:  Without customer input and feedback, it’s unlikely you’ll be successful long-term.  Why not ensure 24/7 availability to receive customer suggestions, feedback, complaints etc.?

Blue webinar iconIn my upcoming webinar, “Leverage Social Network to Drive Business Results”, I’ll discuss these tips and several strategies to leverage social networks and social media to elevate business performance. Register for the complimentary event and also check out my book “Leverage Social Networks to Drive Business Success” too.



Manufacturing Skills Gap Survey Request and Invitation

October 28th, 2013
factory

As you know, I have a passion for the critical importance of people and their impact on organizations, which is why my founding brand, Profit through People remained intact after my recent re-branding.

I’ve yet to run across a client who has achieved long-term success with lousy or even largely mediocre people and people-related practices.  On the other hand, I’ve seen GREAT success with mediocre brands, products and services with exceptional people. People will make or break your success.

Since people are integral to the success of my consulting projects, I watch these trends closely.  In the past several months, I’ve started to see a new trend emerging – a SKILLS GAP for manufacturers and distributors.

The organizations who focus on the 3 R’s will thrive in today’s resurgent environment:

  • Recruiting top talent
  • Retaining top talent
  • Reinvigorating Training & Development Programs

 

Thus, I’m excited to invite you to participate with me and my APICS Inland Empire chapter on this critical topic:

Request for Survey Participation

I’ve partnered with APICS Inland Empire, the leading professional association for supply chain and operations management professionals, to provide manufacturers and distributors with critical data to strategize and plan for recruiting, hiring, retention, training and development programs.  Thus, I’m very interested in your feedback and insights.  We’ve made it brief as we would really appreciate your valuable insights.

Take Survey Now

As a thank you for taking the survey, I will make sure you are one of the first to receive the survey results.  I’m looking forward to and appreciate your input.

Invitation for APICS-IE Executive Panel Symposium 

apicslogoAdditionally, if you are in the Southern California area on November 2nd, I personally want to extend an invitation for you to join me at the APICS Inland Empire Fall Inaugural Executive Panel & Networking Symposium 2013 at Eagle Glen Golf Club in Corona.

We have assembled an expert panel from manufacturing & distribution, research, executive recruiting, and higher education to not only help us identify the gaps, but also give us tips on how to gain the knowledge and skills we need to be successful. Feel free to download the Symposium Flyer for more information.

It will be a rare opportunity to hear thought leaders and network with colleagues.

Register Now

Hope to see you there!

 



The Power Of Relationships

October 24th, 2013
Never underestimate the importance of relationships - especially their effect on the bottom line.

Never underestimate the importance of relationships – especially their effect on the bottom line.

The power of relationships is immense! I typically partner with clients to accomplish significant bottom line results on a wide variety of topics ranging from organizational change and culture projects to process projects such as service improvement, inventory reduction and lean programs to technical projects such as leveraging and implementing ERP systems, and there is one common element across all of them – the power of relationships. To add fuel to the fire, it also holds true for personal success.

As tempting as it might be for executives to think that “all will be fine” if only they implement the latest fad (even if it is a “good” fad such as lean, green or whatever will be the next fad, probably rhyming with “een”), technical bell and whistle or best practice process, don’t fall in the trap! Although many of these might be valuable from one perspective or another (which is why it is so common to take a trip down this rabbit hole), the 80/20 rule to achieving bottom line results goes back to people. So, why waste so much time, money and resources on the “20” of the 80/20?

In addition to the traditional aspects of people (hiring exceptional people, valuing your employees, following a simple yet effective performance management process etc.), there is nothing more critical to success than developing and leveraging the power the relationships. Thus, a few tips include: 1) Take stock. 2) Build relationships. 3) Value your relationships.

1. Take stock – It sounds silly but it is not bad to start with simplicity – what relationships do you have currently? Which are those you consider long-term partners (customers, suppliers, trade association members, brokers, other people at your company or client, etc.) and/or people you’d like to stay connected to for the long term? Which are shorter in nature yet critical for a period of time? Which are already on a solid track? Which need help? Take a step back and think about how you’d prioritize? For example, as a leader, it is typical to spend the majority of your time on your non-performers yet your top performers deliver 80% of the results – where should you focus?

2. Build relationships – I’d be surprised if you didn’t find someone you need to build a relationship with and/or a relationship to nurture. So, how do you begin? How about taking a step back and thinking of how you can provide value to your employee, your boss, your customer, your supplier or whoever you’ve identified? No point in starting with what you want – how is that interesting to the other person? It’s not! Instead, ask compelling questions and listen – you’ll learn everything you need to know in order to build a relationship.

3. Value Your Relationships – My neighbor across the street from my house passed away suddenly recently – such a nice man. 15+ years ago, I remember him always wandering by to check on things if need be, and he really liked and appreciated my parents as they were whirlwind gardeners (and he didn’t even know what they did in the house!) – they came for a long weekend, and my garden/ landscaping could go from so-so to great in 8 hours flat! It makes you think – do you take your relationships for granted or do you value them? The same is true of your best, low-maintenance customer or supplier that you always overlook for your high-maintenance, low profitability customer.

There is only one nugget of wisdom which spanned every role in my 20+ year career without exception which ranged from roles of Production Planner to Project & Transition manager to VP of Supply Chain & Operations to Business Consultant, Entrepreneur and President of LMA Consulting Group, Inc. and APICS Inland Empire (and non-profits do throw a few wrenches into the mix) – it is the undeniable power of relationships. Think of it this way – who is there for you when the unexpected occurs? What are you doing to build and nurture your relationships?



Retaining Top Talent – a Must for Success

October 22nd, 2013
Perception is reality and underappreciated employees move onto other oppotunities .

Perception is reality and underappreciated employees move onto other oppotunities .

Retaining top talent should always be a priority for supply chain management; however, in today’s market, losing even one top player, especially a project manager, can make the difference between success and failure.

Since the recession, employers have expected logistics employees to be generalists. In essence, employees at all levels in an organization are expected to wear multiple hats seamlessly. At the same time, people are getting tired. In some cases, they’ve worked for years with minimal or no pay increases while expanding their responsibilities. Although they might be appreciated, often times, they do not know it.

Perception is reality. Therefore, I’ve seen a trend in my business consulting clients, and in my networks of folks beginning to change jobs. This is creating a panic as they leave huge gaps in their wake.

For example, at one of my clients, an entire department left the company over the course of 6 months. That might be considered a black hole! On the other hand, I know of folks in my networks who get job queries frequently who are committed and stay the course.

Let’s guess which companies those are? The ones that have performance management systems in place with leaders who collaborate on goals, appreciate employees, provide challenges, address the roadblocks (even the unpleasant ones), etc. Interestingly, those who have managers who are willing to provide constructive feedback and address problem employees are much more likely to stay than those who steer clear of the conflicts.

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

Critical Priority: Retaining Top Talent.



ERP Implementation: Keys to Success

October 17th, 2013
 ERP implementation

Achieve expected returns from your ERP implementation by following three keys to success.

I’ve found that noticing and acting on trends can be a key to success from both a professional and personal perspective.

Lately there have been plenty of trends to notice; however, a noteworthy one is that I’ve received several requests and/or inquiries about ERP implementation, post go-live support, and how to leverage ERP systems to drive business results. One of my recent speeches, “Leveraging ERP for Bottom Line Results” has become a popular topic, and as companies are beginning to think about investing in ERP again, it is all the more important to ensure success with your ERP projects in order to achieve the expected returns.

In my experience in working with multiple companies in a variety of industries and globally on implementing and leveraging the use of ERP systems to drive business results, I’ve seen the good, bad and ugly and have derived a set of best practices for achieving success.

A few of the keys to success include the following: 1) Build core metrics into the process upfront. 2) Focus on exception processes. 3) Look for ways to simplify

1.   Build Core Metrics into the Process Upfront – Building core metrics into the process upfront is undoubtedly the #1 key to success. For example, in one Oracle implementation, the company went over and beyond to ensure success by hiring not only Oracle consulting experts but also process experts to ensure a seamless transition; however, there was a significant gap with the day-to-day business. As is typical in implementations, often your best internal experts become involved with the implementation (and not focused on prior responsibilities), transition to new functions in the business or are dealing with entirely new business processes tied to the new system; thus no one is minding the store.

In my example, although there were people tasked with metrics and it appeared that the teams were well-organized, no one realized they were shipping significantly less immediately following the go-live. Soon, it built on itself, and they were suddenly behind and scrambling in shipping, production, planning and purchasing as well. Customers suffered! And costs increased. Instead, I’ve found that if you determine your core metrics upfront (or as soon as you realize your gap) and develop a simple tracking process; you’ll avoid unnecessary chaos and upheaval to your business.

 2.  Focus on Exception Processes – I’ve found that although there is typically a concentrated focus on testing all of the core areas of the business, implementations fall short with exception processes. I’ve yet to see an implementation that wasn’t struggling to maintain deadlines; thus, you are often fortunate to get through the testing and pilot process with your main functions let alone exceptions. Unfortunately, how many typical days are without exceptions (no mistakes, no entry errors, no changes in customer orders, and no delays in purchase orders)? Not many!

As exceptions begin to occur, the processes fall apart. It builds upon itself as well-intentioned employees find workarounds to resolve the exception which creates down-the-line issues. Instead, it is vital to ensure exceptions are incorporated into the training process. If that ship has already sailed, make sure to focus a team of people on bringing the organization up-to-speed on how to handle exceptions.

 3.  Look for Ways to Simplify – Last but not least, look for ways to simplify – your processes, systems and implementation. It is easy to get side-tracked in complexity when implementing a new system, as you want the system to do everything you previously couldn’t do as well as you wanted in order to achieve your business goals.

However, I’ve found it is at least 10 times better to simplify:

1) Boil down your desires to your core business drivers – what are your profit drivers? What aligns with your strategy?

2) Align your systems with your core business drivers through your critical success factors – typically, there are a handful of functionality areas to focus on in order to ensure the system will support your business and guarantee a smooth transition with key customers.

3) Ensure that the team focuses on these areas, even if it’s at the detriment to the rest of the areas. I’ve found this is easier said than done; however, the rewards are substantial. Implementing and leveraging systems can help drive business results; however, they often cost FAR more than intended with poor results due to implementation chaos.

Take a look at implementing a few best practices and turn a potential mess into results!

Why not start on the right foot by syncing lean with the business strategy, integrating it into the culture and putting in the effort to implement solid operating principles? Not only will you deliver bottom line results but you’ll also develop a culture of continuous improvement?