Tips for the Holiday Survival Guide

October 30th, 2014
positive thinking

We tend to think of the additional stress that the holiday season brings but wouldn’t it be better to flip it by focusing on the positive and spreading some cheer?

As we head into the holiday season, I thought a few reminders might be in order:

1. Remember your relationships: It’s easy to get so busy that you go through the motions. Remember, relationships are #1 to business and personal success. The holidays are a good time to nurture them.

2. Don’t plan to 100%: By this, I mean do not plan every hour of your day. Instead, intentionally set aside time between meetings and calls. This allows for the unexpected – during the holidays, the unexpected should be expected (and planned). Give yourself time to breathe.

3. Find a way to help someone each day: If one of your goals is to find a way to help someone or provide value to someone, you’ll not only enjoy the holidays more but you’ll also make a difference.

4. Look at the bright side: Everyone has the relative, friend or even co-worker who jumps immediately to the worst possible conclusion or meaning of an innocuous statement. Instead, think positive first. I’ve found it to be rare that the negative meaning was intended yet it creates havoc. Jump to the positive!

5. A daily compliment: Be on the lookout for people and actions to compliment. You’ll be surprised how searching for someone to compliment each day will improve your holiday season – and theirs.

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Are You Prepared for Success?

October 28th, 2014
handling success

One would expect success to be welcome and easy to handle, but it can blindside you and be surprisingly hard to handle if you have only prepared against failure. Prepare your success strategy now with the help of your team to enjoy it when it happens.

Are you prepared for success? We worry so much about failure that I find most clients are not prepared for success.

You know what the lawyers say, “never go into a situation without knowing the answer and being prepared for anything that might come up”. It is proven that the well-prepared will perform far better than those scrambling to survive without a plan for success.

Think about success from both personal and professional standpoint. It seems strange that this would be necessary; however, in my experience, one of the contributing causes of failure is not being ready for success. I’ve found that if you expect success, you’ll achieve it; and, on the other hand, if you expect failure, you’ll achieve that as well. So, what are a few keys to successfully preparing for success?

1. First, Plan: Without planning, you must scramble. For example, if you are a manufacturer and your sales suddenly spike by 25%, are you prepared to ramp up within your lead time? Are raw materials readily available? Are your crews ready to begin production? Although scrambling could achieve the 25% sales spike, there’s no doubt it will be at a higher cost or lower quality. For example, without planning, it is likely you’ll not only need to go to alternate, higher cost, non-core suppliers in order to get raw materials but you’ll also need to use excessive overtime to produce the increased volume.

Instead, begin planning now. It is never too early. It does not need to be complex and time consuming. Consider what will happen if various success scenarios are achieved. Put together a plan. Add “what if” scenarios. Are there items you can implement now with minimal/no cost which will set you up for success? For example, can you cross-train your crews to prepare for various production alternatives?

2. Flexibility: Flexibility is a key to success. Build flexibility into not only your plans but every business process! For example, cross-training crews provides flexibility to produce multiple products with the same resources. Another example is to partner with your suppliers and internal partners to modify your product and/or manufacturing process so that you can use multiple, similar materials while meeting product specifications, which provides flexibility in terms of material supply.

3. Communication: There’s no doubt that most plans fail due to a lack of communication and execution. Preparing for success is no different! It is vital to communicate every step of the way.

Plans are useless if no one knows about them. Sound obvious? Then, why don’t our employees know our goals and plans? Have we shared critical supply chain “what if” scenarios with the appropriate supply chain partners (customers, suppliers, carriers, brokers, etc.)?

It doesn’t have to be complex or expensive to prepare for success; however, you will likely miss your best opportunities unless you are ready!

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UPS Notes E-Commerce Boom

October 27th, 2014

supply chain
According to today’s Wall Street Journal, UPS had robust growth in the third quarter, which was strongly influenced by the e-commerce boom. E-commerce now accounts for about 45% of U.S. packages. Is e-commerce on your radar?

I’m on the flight back from Phoenix as I went to meet with a potential ERP selection client and to see my parents. As I told my potential client, e-commerce is a must in any ERP selection project today. According to my recent Amazon Effect research report (which will be live shortly), e-commerce, websites, 24/7 accessibility and order status information have all become musts!

One tip to implement this week:

If you have influence on whether your company offers e-commerce, RACE towards it. If you don’t, you can still have an influence. Look up similar companies online. What do they offer?  Think about what might attract you to your company’s products and services. Provide suggestions to your boss, your marketing department, etc.

Also take a look at your system and your website, how appealing are they? Are they accessible 24/7? For example, can your customers or suppliers look up order status updates and purchase orders 24/7? Provide suggestions and ideas to your boss, I.T., etc.  In the vast majority of cases, employees at my clients’ are pleasantly surprised by how much influence they can have!

Looking for more ideas to keep your supply chain talent? Access more tips and resources on my blog. And keep connected by subscribing to my newsletter and email feed of “I’ve Been Thinking…”


SIOP Metrics: 5 Key Baseline Measurements

October 23rd, 2014
analysis and metrics

Of all the overlapping metrics available to executives the best ones enhance SIOP and offer the most vital information for running a business.

Which metrics are most crucial for SIOP (sometimes referred to as S&OP or sales and operations planning)?  The simple answer is that it is those metrics most vital to running your business.

SIOP aligns not only demand with supply but it also aligns the various business units and functional areas on one plan.  Therefore, there are standard metrics which are key to SIOP including:

1. Sales revenues – certainly one of the key elements of SIOP is to forecast demand.

2. Inventory turns – how quickly you are turning your inventory will have a direct impact on cash flow

3. Service levels – this metric will measure how well you satisfy your customers from on-time delivery, complete orders, etc. This is sometimes measured by the “perfect order”.

4. Lead time – the shorter your lead times vs. competition, the more likely you’ll be able to grow sales, assuming all else is equal.

5. Margins – how well you have aligned demand with supply and optimized your supply chain inclusive of operations, planning, purchasing, distribution etc. will correlate directly to efficiencies and margins.

In addition to these baseline metrics, it is important to also consider other metrics which can be important to your particular business or to your bottom line results.  These can include key customer performance, key customer sales vs. forecast, bookings, master schedule adherence, etc.

Start thinking about SIOP as a strategic priority, and dramatic results will follow.

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Why Upgrade Your ERP System Software?

October 21st, 2014

With improvements in the economy and increasing customer expectations this may be the right time to upgrade your ERP system software.

I’ve been talking with an increasing number of manufacturers and distributors who are beginning to think about upgrading technology and specifically their ERP (Enterprise Resource Planning) system. There are many ERP softwares to choose from and staying current is essential.

Selecting and implementing a new ERP system is no small endeavor; however, it can yield vast results in the right situation. A few reasons to consider an upgrade include:

1. Service: Your customers are more comfortable with your ability to service them. For example, one of my clients has a key customer who requires an ERP system to assure them that this start-up company will have the proper business processes and systems in place to succeed.

2. Platform for sales growth: How do you grow your business successfully and at a quick pace with already overloaded resources? Leverage systems and look for an ERP solution.

3. Customer need: In order to satisfy your customer’s needs without ballooning in size and increasing error rates, technology is required. For example, in today’s environment, e-commerce must be an assumption. Does your system handle it well?

4. Cash flow: Typically upgrading your ERP software will provide enhanced tools for inventory management. By implementing this best practice functionality, you have the opportunity to decrease inventory levels while maintaining/improving service levels.

5. Margins: ERP systems allow for numerous opportunities to improve efficiency. Additionally, there are robust reporting capabilities to slice and dice key data for management decision-making. Wouldn’t it be helpful to know which customer is most profitable or which item is least profitable?

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