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All Roads Lead Back to People

December 30th, 2019

All roads lead back to people. In working with executives from diverse industries of aerospace, building products, healthcare and food & beverage, whether a $10 million dollar family-owned business, a $50 million dollar private-equity backed company or a multi-billion dollar global conglomerate, the most successful have the best people. Little else seems to matter. The best strategies are destroyed by poor leaders, and the most mediocre of plans are wildly successful with the right leaders.

Since many of our clients are manufacturers, and October is manufacturing month, we thought it would be the ideal time to remind you that “all roads go back to leaders”. As much as it is relevant to stay on top of the latest technologies (learn more about artificial intelligence and computer vision in our “Just for Clients Section”) and search for the best practices for your business (such as SIOP (sales, inventory, operations planning) and lean manufacturing), it is even more important to think about your people. In fact, if you have the ‘right’ people, the rest will fall into place.

When thinking about people, you should consider several important groups:

  • New hires – Spend more time ensuring you have the ‘right’ person before wasting time and energy on a non-performer! Stop thinking about job descriptions and tasks.  Instead, think about what results you need and whether the person you are interviewing can ‘turn them into a reality’.
  • Your employeesThe most important category is your employees. If your people aren’t involved and interested, how do you expect to create fans of your customers?
  • Your suppliers – Do you consider your suppliers an extension of your team? You should! They can make or break your success.
  • Your customers – Certainly, there is such a thing as choosing the ‘wrong’ customer. Are you just taking any customer that comes your way or are you making sure they are a good fit for your business? Some customers will take you to new heights and others will send you accelerating backwards.
  • Your trusted advisors – Pay attention to who you listen to! Bad advice is far worse than no advice at all. As trusted advisors, we can attest that when our clients find ‘inexpensive advice’.  They come running to us because they tied up people getting nothing accomplished, or worse, the situation has gotten worse! In addition, having the ‘right’ banking, financial and legal advice at the ‘right’ time can prove invaluable.
  • Your trade & professional organizations, alumni groups etc. – The story is very similar to trusted advisors. You can gain invaluable insight and resources if you consider your network an important aspect of your business.

Watch our interview with  Ismael Reyes, Jr. and Cindy Baughman of Ingram Micro, the Manufacturing Council of the Inland Empire’s Innovation Award winners. We talk about the relevance and importance of talent and leadership as well as the dramatic impact it can have on bottom line results. They achieved over a million dollars in savings in process improvements.  And, they consider the key to success to go back to people.

Are you interested in bottom line improvement AND/or developing a superior customer experience? If so, start with your people!

If you are interested in an assessment of how you stand vs. the industry norm and would like recommendations and priorities to drive results, read through our articles for ideas or contact us to discuss further.



The Tranquility of Ha Long Bay

December 26th, 2019

While in Vietnam, I thought it made sense to see the World Heritage site nearby. So, I took a day tour of Ha Long Bay in north Vietnam. It is known for lush emerald and turquoise waters in the Gulf of Tonkin. You feel the tranquility. Have you thought about how to insert a bit of tranquility into the chaos?

 

One Tip to Implement This Week:

In the midst of Hanoi, it would seem as far as you can get from the tranquility of Ha Long Bay. Scooters are everywhere. Horns are honking. Traffic lights are nearly non-existent. Everyone is on their own.  You just have to step across the street regardless of what is coming. Yet somehow there seems to be organization amidst the chaos. On the other hand, aside from being crowded with tourists, Ha Long Bay is the opposite with absolute tranquility. Purposefully inserting tranquility into your crazy routine can spur new ideas and reorient your thinking.

Since I was in Vietnam, this seemed like a good option. What can you do to achieve this same type of impact? Should you get away for lunch? Take a walk on a break? Go on a mini retreat to re-think your strategy? Or simply take the train and read a book instead of fighting traffic in your car? It doesn’t matter what you do. Simply think about what works for you and follow that path to keep your mind fresh and to stimulate new ideas.

 



Is Vietnam the New China?

December 23rd, 2019

Possibly, and “it depends”! China has been moving factories to Vietnam since the early 2000’s, so it is certainly a place to consider. With the tariffs, global uncertainty, rising wages in China and social/political implications, Vietnam can provide a viable alternative especially for certain industries. Vietnam has lower wages, multiple ports, is friendly and has a growing and advancing manufacturing base. Of course, there are always challenges to navigate as well such as a lesser developed infrastructure and less high skilled resources available. The bottom line is that you should at least have Vietnam on your radar.

Some of our clients are sourcing from Vietnam in addition to other countries including China, Mexico and N.A. Similar to China, there is a stark difference between those with money and those working diligently to get by. The picture of the nice looking building is part of the Sofitel Legend Metropole is a fabulous hotel (and happens to be where Donald Trump & Kim Jung-un met), and the other picture is one of Hanoi’s city streets. The vast majority of people cannot afford a car (which is quite expensive in Vietnam, $25,000 for the smallest hatchback) , so there are motorbikes all over the place, driving in seemingly organized chaos. In comparison to China’s wages of $27.50 per day, wages in Vietnam are $6.70 per day. Yes, a stark difference for labor-intensive industries. While Vietnam may not be right for everyone, you should at least be aware of what the country has to offer in terms of sourcing opportunities.

What Should We Consider and/or What Impacts Could Arise?
Countless numbers of organizations outsourced to China 20 years ago.  Many have discovered it wasn’t the smartest decision. Perhaps labor intensity wasn’t high. Perhaps lead time requirements were quick and critical. Perhaps product was delayed at ports or the risks associated with the South China Sea are too great. Perhaps it never came out much ahead when looking at the total cost or perhaps it has evolved to more of a parity. In non-labor intensive industries, I’ve heard several executives re-think the decision. At larger companies with global business, they reoriented the China facilities to supply the Asian markets. In smaller companies, they were stuck for a period of time because they invested heavily including in capital intensive machinery and equipment. And in some cases, it was a brilliant decision.

Whether you have outsourced to China, Vietnam or anywhere else is not relevant. The key question to think about is the impact your decisions have on your customer, your skills requirements, your cost structure, your risk profile and more. So long as you are going into these decisions with your eyes wide open, you’ll be successful.

Perhaps you should also be thinking about backup plans and deliberately creating redundancy and diversifying your manufacturing base. Even if you don’t consider switching part of your base because you aren’t prepared to make this transition successfully, you should at least think about how you are sourcing growth and expansion. Should you build skills close to your customers? If you are in a labor-intensive industry such as apparel and home textiles (which are #1 and #2 in Vietnam), perhaps you should consider Vietnam. And, why not get ahead of the curve? Samsung is producing several phones in Vietnam.  There may be something to be said about being first to the party of using higher-skilled talent.

At a minimum, re-evaluate your end-to-end supply chain in order to future-proof your manufacturing operations and related supply chain components. Check out our new LMA-i, LMA-Intelligence series including Future-Proofing and contact us if you’d like an assessment path-forward plan to accelerate your bottom line and customer performance.



Manufacturing Expert, Lisa Anderson, Confirms Manufacturers Focused on Customer Experience Drivers

December 21st, 2019

Manufacturing Expert, Lisa Anderson, Confirms Manufacturers Focused on
Customer Experience Drivers

 CLAREMONT, CALIFORNIA – December 19, 2019 –  Manufacturing and Supply Chain Expert,  Lisa Anderson, MBA, CSCP, CLTD, president of LMA Consulting Group Inc., confirms that manufacturers are flexible and responsive to changing customer needs and demands. LMA Consulting Group works with manufacturers and distributors on strategy and end-to-end supply chain transformation to maximize the customer experience and enable profitable, scalable, dramatic business growth.

“2019 has been a pivotal year for manufacturers.  As turbulence with tariffs, the need to provide immediate response to customer needs and demands and improvements in automation have required capital investments, manufacturers that have responded are coming out ahead. They are near-shoring, reshoring, customizing and focusing on sales forecasting almost to the point of being predictive of demand. And, they are leading in their respective industries,” Ms. Anderson commented.  Nimble response has not traditionally been a term associated with manufacturing.  Artificial intelligence, robots, IoT and 3-D printing have become more mainstream and allow manufacturers to make immediate improvements and reduce lead times.  “We see manufacturers excited about future adaptations of their products, processes and services as well as their collaborations with their extended supply chain to create innovations and make a greater impact,” she said.

The customer experience drivers, awareness of the Amazon effect and the need for a resilient supply chain are messages that Ms. Anderson focuses on when working with clients.  “It’s about differentiating the customer experience while enabling profitability and growth. It may seem that these are diametrically opposed.  Yet, when a collaborative focus with a commitment towards innovation takes place in an organization, great things happen.  Our clients are feeling the impact. Recently, we worked with a client to help them initiate a vendor managed inventory program for their customers, managing the inventory and ordering process.  This allowed for better insight into the extended supply chain which helped them proactively position inventory and build more agile capabilities.  The result was better response to changing customer demand patterns, establishing resiliency in the supply chain and, most importantly, achieving bottom line performance, ” she concluded.

As the calendar rolls to 2020, customers will continue to become more sophisticated and demanding.  The recent squabble between FedEx and Amazon is proof that even the largest of client relationships can change.   In 2020,  future proofing manufacturing operations and the supply chain will fast-track proactive manufacturers to stand ahead of the competition.  Initiatives to position manufacturing are underway, especially in Inland Southern California where Ms. Anderson is involved with the Inland Empire Economic Partnership which is developing a consortium for advanced manufacturing and logistics success. She is also active with the Manufacturing Council of the Inland Empire where she heads the Innovation Awards for the Annual Summit.  “Manufacturing remains a core industry in the U.S. The time is right, and the time is now to focus on future-proofing manufacturing and the supply chain for success” she concluded.

About LMA Consulting Group – Lisa Anderson, MBA, CSCP, CLTD

Lisa Anderson is the founder and president of LMA Consulting Group, Inc., a consulting firm that specializes in manufacturing strategy and end-to-end supply chain transformation.  She focuses on maximizing the customer experience and enabling profitable, scalable, dramatic business growth. Ms. Anderson is a recognized Supply Chain thought leader by SelectHub, named a Top 40 B2B Tech Influencer by arketi group, 50 ERP Influencer by Washington-Frank, a top 46 most influential in Supply Chain by SAP and named a top woman influencer by Solutions Review. She recently published, I’ve Been Thinking, 101 strategies for creating bold customer promises and profits. A regular content contributor on topics including a superior customer experience with SIOP, advancing innovation and making the supply chain resilient, Ms. Anderson is regularly interviewed and quoted by publications such as Industry Week, tED magazine and the Wall Street Journal.  For information, to sign up for her Profit Through PeopleTM Newsletter or for a copy of her book, visit LMA-ConsultingGroup.com.           

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Media Contact Kathleen McEntee | Kathleen McEntee & Associates, Ltd. | p. (760) 262 – 4080 | KMcEntee@KMcEnteeAssoc.com                                                 

 



Have You Thought About Whether You are Maximizing the Use of Your ERP System?

December 19th, 2019

Before jumping to conclusions and pursuing a system upgrade, should we explore whether we are maximizing the use of our current system? Or, is it just not modern enough to support our growth in a scalable, profitable way?

This is often the subject of a client call. After all, no one in their right mind would want to embark on an ERP upgrade unless absolutely necessary. The issue is that the situation can be quite complex. How do we separate what’s important vs. what’s not? In this case study, a client knew they had to upgrade because their system was long out of maintenance. The only question was how compelling was the upgrade to support their customers’ requirements and an efficient operation?

The Answer
Although they clearly required an upgrade to get into the current century, the question we explored is whether they could continue to improve performance using their current system to a degree large enough to delay the upgrade until they were better prepared. Unfortunately, since they had let their current system go for ‘too long’, it was highly dependent on current technical resources, partly tailored to their business processes and customized to their needs. At first glance, that doesn’t sound bad! However, the issue was that it was by no means scalable, would require significant education on concepts so that folks started thinking instead of following the process designed into the current system and they were highly dependent on resources that could leave or “get hit by a bus”. Doesn’t that sound like something you say but it doesn’t happen? Not so> One of my clients had that exact situation occur, even though it is just a phrase for a myriad of issues that could arise.

After digging into their business requirements (current as well as a few years into the future), we found ample opportunity to further leverage already existing functionality to meet customer requirements and delay the upgrade for several months. However, that still wasn’t enough. We also had to take actions to secure at-risk critical resources to the degree feasible (since we clearly cannot plan 100% for the ‘hit by the bus’ scenario). We were successful in proactively addressing the situation so that we didn’t have to leap before we knew if we had a net. Yet, we weren’t 100% comfortable, so we also put together an aggressive plan for ERP selection to find the best fit system to meet their needs (without customizing) and equally important a best fit partner that could proactively understand and think through their education needs (which were VERY different from training needs).

Food For Thought
Although we found a solution, the CEO was on pins and needles once he realized the extent of the situation. Don’t leave your infrastructure to chance. Even though all can seem quite fine at the high level, it is important to know whether you are being held up by a solid foundation or a nice-looking pile of straw. That is before considering what you’ll need at least 18 months into the future. You will not select the best system to support your plans or you’ll skimp on implementation. Every client that cut corners overspent by 20-100% and that is before considering the impact on customer service. Do you have a scalable ERP system to support your business growth and profitability? If not, start there!

 

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

Is Your ERP System Scalable?

Do You Need An ERP Upgrade?

Systems Pragmatist