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Giving Thanks & Why It Matters

December 13th, 2018

Since it is Thanksgiving week, it seems only appropriate to talk about giving thanks.   A BIG THANKS to these people/ groups who have been instrumental in our success – and making it an enjoyable journey along the way:

 

  • Our clients – As much as our clients select us, we also select you.  As my consulting mentor says, it is not worth the efforts you have to go through to run a successful consulting practice if you don’t love what you do and work with people you respect and enjoy!  Thus, a BIG thanks to you!
  • Our associates – When I first started consulting, I dreaded the thought of how to bring someone into a client successfully, and after many years of “collecting good people”, I love it!
  • Our trusted advisors – Just as our clients need experts surrounding them, so do we.  I prefer to stay out of trouble! And we are only as good as the people surrounding us.
  • My APICS Board of Directors & key colleagues – We provide exceptional value to our local manufacturing and supply chain communities, and there is NO way I’d do it without you.
  • My ProVisors executive committee & ONT group – What an invaluable network of trusted advisors.  LMA is exponentially more successful with you!
  • My global consulting strategy group – Nice that I have your support (and kick in the butt) to stay the course, continue to grow and provide more and more value in my consulting practice.
  • And my other professional associations such as the Inland Empire Economic Partnership (IEEP), the Manufacturers Council of the Inland Empire (MCIE), Harvey Mudd executive roundtables, Renaissance Executive Forums group, the University of LaVerne advisory Board for the School of Business and Public Management and more.
  • Students – For keeping us fresh and engaged – from CSUSB, Cal Poly, UCR, Drucker, Harvey Mudd, Pomona College, Univ of LaVerne, Norco and more.
  • My SAC business partner, Linda Popky – We have created a value-packed organization for consulting growth.  I’ve learned a lot along the way that has added valued in many other areas of my practice as well.
  • My parents – Without them, I would never have started a consulting firm because I would not have known that anything was possible (as detailed in my backstory) and I would have listened to all those people who said a young woman couldn’t run manufacturing, have a seat at the table with private equity backers or start a consulting firm from the ground up.
  • Friends & former colleagues – Speaking of starting up a consulting firm while knowing close to no one since I traveled 60% of the time as VP of Operations & Supply Chain, I certainly appreciate these valued colleagues in helping to make it possible.

One tip to implement this week:
Who do you appreciate?  More importantly, do they know?  I’m often surprised by how what we think is obvious is NOT to the other party.  It can go a long way – why not think of at least one person to thank!

Have a Happy Thanksgiving!

 



Last Mile Has Become Last Minute & the GE Port Optimizer

December 10th, 2018

 

There is no doubt – last mile has become last minute, meaning every customer changes his/her mind.  Whether it is due to consumer preference or supporting an industry that seems rather known (For example, it is clear what will be purchased to build a 737 airplane.  You don’t change that end item at the last minute.), when looking down the supply chain, no matter how clear, it all gets jumbled and becomes “last minute”.  

Thus, the key is to understand where your product is within the extended supply chain, when it will be available and where you sit in terms of the priority customers. There are many strategies to support creating this resilient supply chain including the GE Port Optimizer which is one of the most innovative and expansive technology projects taken on by the ports.  Check out the video on this project:

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

The GE Port Optimizer project is an excellent example of the importance of collaboration, the strategic use of data and the impact of the customer experience on creating a resilient supply chain.  Have you thought about how to collaborate with your extended supply chain and related partners for a win-win-win? If you aren’t, your competitor will. Stranger and perhaps smarter yet, have you thought about collaborating with your competitor for a win-win?  

Creating collaborative partnerships of data, visibility and efficiency is a great example of creating a resilient supply chain to navigate disruption and achieve peak performance. Check out our new video and article series as well as our soon-to-be offered Rapid Resilient Supply Chain Assessment service:



The Resilient Supply Chain: Should We Invest in Technology

December 7th, 2018

In today’s Amazon-impacted, Uberian environment, technology opportunities abound!  Beyond ERP and related subsystems, there is IoT, blockchain, robotics, autonomous vehicles, predictive analytics and much more.  Should we invest or not?

Clearly, if we invest in every one of these opportunities, we could “go broke”. How do we decide? And, will it help us create a resilient supply chain?

 

The answer:  It depends!
Our best clients follow a similar process and answer the following questions:

  1.  What is the state of the industry?  What disruptors are likely to impact the industry?  What trends are occurring? Where do we see it going?
  2.  How do we stand in the industry?  How are we positioned?  What is our unique value proposition?  What differentiates us from the competition?
  3.  What is our technology/ IT infrastructure?  Does our ERP system support our current needs?  Does it support our growth? Is our ERP partner aligned with technology partners that can help in expanding our future technology capabilities?  The bottom line – where are we starting?
  4.  What is our vision?  Understanding where we want to go is relevant.  What will it take to achieve our vision? Do we know what people, processes, systems/ technologies and culture change will be required to attain our vision?
  5.  Is the technology required to achieve the vision? (given our competitive differentiators and changes occurring in the industry)  Adding technology that doesn’t support our vision might be exciting but doesn’t support the future whereas not investing in technology required to support our vision is also problematic.
  6.  What are the priorities?  If there are several technologies required to support progress, which are required first in terms of sequence (if relevant), which have the greatest impact, and which are urgent to meet a customer need or avoid a negative consequence?

The Bottom Line:
Don’t invest because everyone is investing.  Invest because it supports scalable, profitable growth.

 



Supply Resiliency: Video Interview on Disruption in Logistics

December 4th, 2018

Next in our supply chain resiliency value series, we are excited to share an interview with BJ Patterson, President of Pacific Mountain Logistics.  Thanks to B.J. for sharing his expertise on the Manufacturing Summit’s panel “Amazon Effect: Pass or Play – the New Sales & Distribution Game and How it Affects Manufacturing”.   

B.J. is responding to a question related to supply chain resiliency on disruptions in logistics.  In essence, the key question is: How to maintain margins throughout the supply chain when:

1) We ship a single item vs. a pallet of items in terms of warehousing/material handling inefficiencies

2) Customers’ orders require many more truck trips than ever before

3) Truck space is at a premium and we are shipping a lot of air since Amazon-like shipments often have 1 item in a large box on a truck.  

Certainly, there are no easy answers.  However, we must be thinking about how we’ll create supply chain resiliency so we can thrive with these changing market conditions.

 


With an increasing frequency, supply chain partners are pulling together to find solutions to these types of challenges.  Moreover, the strategic use of data is at a premium. If you can better coordinate all of these ever-changing market conditions to gain visibility and efficiencies within your extended supply chain, you just might take the lead in your industry.  

Our most successful clients don’t wait for these disruptors to crush them.  Instead, they are always looking for potential disruptors and searching for solutions.  They take proactive approaches to take the lead position instead of disappointing customers in an era where the customer experience is of paramount importance.  

What are you doing to navigate these logistics disruptors? We are always interested in feedback and ideas to share.

 



The Resilient Supply Chain: Do You Have Vendors or Partners?

December 1st, 2018

Since we did research on “The Squeeze” for a speech on the the squeeze in aerosapce (meaning:  how does the supplier in the middle between the Tier 1 suppliers who supply final assembly parts for an airplane and the powerhouse mills survive, or preferably thrive), we have been thinking a lot about the supplier relationship.  Coincidently, we also heard a lot on this topic at the Association for Supply Chain Management (ASCM/APICS) international conference as it is a hot topic across all industries. There was an almost identical discussion occurring with retail and the consumer goods industry. Last but not least, all of our clients are seeing the relevance of this topic.

What is the “right” answer?  Of course, it depends!
To manage “the squeeze”, one of the keys is to create partnerships with your key suppliers.  The rest can be vendors since they are not core or significant to your success. However, your key suppliers must be partners and collaborators.  For example, one of the best ways to handle the middle position in the aerospace world is to bring your customers and their demand together with your suppliers and their capabilities.  

Here are a few ideas that all depend on being a partner:

  • Collaborate with suppliers on new ideas/design concepts to reduce materials and waste for you AND up your supply chain.
  • Become a partner of your customer and gain access to demand information as it becomes available and help translate that into a benefit for your customer, you and your supplier.
  • Leverage pricing and volume across the supply chain for a win-win-win.

Although these ideas relate to aerospace, the same concept applies with every client.  When I was VP of Operations and Supply Chain for an absorbent products manufacturer, we used these same concepts to find win-win-win solutions in your supply chain.  We partnered with key vendors to redesign materials (that performed better at a lower cost), redesign packaging, reduce waste in our manufacturing process which required teaks and collaboration with both material and equipment suppliers and more.  By following a partnership route instead of the “vendor” negotiation/beat up on price route, we turned our situation around from bad to good.

We found private equity backers who wanted profitable growth.  However, soon after, the market changed and oil and gas prices were continually rising which significantly impacted our material costs (and were unavoidable) while our private equity investors still expected the same profit improvements as before.  Our business was also heavy in transportation cost since the product was bulky which was also an issue with rising oil and gas prices. Thus, we collaborated with customers, material suppliers and freight suppliers for win-win-win solutions. It “worked” and we were able to offset the price increases while growing the business in a profitable and scalable way.

These types of situations are common in today’s business environment.  

Do you view your suppliers as vendors or partners? And who are you hiring to manage these relationships?  Transaction-oriented purchasing folks or strategic relationship procurement resources?