Category: Change Management

Are You Able to be Resilient in Your Decision Making?

November 12th, 2018

 

As we kick off our new series “The Resilient Supply Chain”, we are thinking about all the aspects of resiliency.  It is overwhelming as to the volatility of almost every aspect of the end-to-end supply chain. Just in the last month, there have been many events/ factors that have created disruption:

  • U.S. and Mexico reaching a trade agreement
  • U.S. and Canada still at an impasse with respect to trade negotiations
  • U.S. and China still imposing tariffs on each other
    • Ford cancelled plans to produce a small car in China based on these tariffs.
  • Fires have and are plaguing California – the worst in history
  • The Big Island in Hawaii is just starting to pick up the pieces after the volcano
    • We’ve heard about severe impacts on the businesses and customers in that areAnd earlier this week, although not serious (thank goodness), there was an earthquake in the next town over from our office

The Resilient Supply Chain
Instead of panicking as each of these events or disruptors occur, creating a resilient supply chain can provide a proactive approach to this current state market condition.  One of critical aspects of taking a proactive approach instead of a reactive one is to think about whether you are able to be resilient in your decision making.

Here are some considerations:
1.  People – Good decisions stem from good people.  Thus, it always makes sense to start there.  Do you have people in leadership positions and other key roles that you would want to make decisions in your absence?  (Just this past week, a potential client was killed by a drunk driver while he was on a motorcycle. We would certainly rather be prepared for winning the lottery but the question remains:  Are your people ready to make decisions?)

2.  Data – Although good people can make up for a lot, you also need the “right” information and relevant background to make key decisions.  Do your systems allow you to retrieve meaningful data for decision making? Every single ERP selection client prioritizes business intelligence/dashboard reporting tools as high on their list of priorities for good reason!

3.  Input – Although this can be considered part of people and data, it’s worth calling out on its own.  Do you gain input from trusted sources (colleagues, customers, suppliers, trade association colleagues, industry groups and more)?  Recently, our APICS-IE instructors had an issue arise with updated learning materials – in essence, they were not set up for learning to occur.  Clearly a BIG issue for an education and value-focused organization! Fortunately, after 3 or 4 calls, we had several ideas on how to dramatically improve the process and overcome the obstacle.  In another example that occurred recently for a client project, we had a significant challenge in explaining a complex concept that was critical to success. If we didn’t get past that barrier, results would NOT follow.  It took 5 or 6 calls with excellent input from all as well as testing out ideas before we came up with the ideal way to convey the concept, and it “worked”!

4.  Speed – Slow decision making is worse than no decision making.  In today’s Amazonian marketplace, your customers will be LONG gone if you are slow to make decisions.  I’ve noticed that I am a LOT less tolerant of slow responsiveness even in my own business (and for things I would have been fine with a year ago).  I have to be to remain viable, and so do you! Thus, as it relates to having the ‘right’ people with the ‘right’ data and ‘right’ input, you must also have them at the ‘right’ time.

Have you put thought into your decision-making process before decisions must occur?  Ponder these critical elements, put them in place and you’ll be prepared to successfully navigate the volatility of today’s business decisions.    

 



What Should We Be Thinking for the 2nd Half of the Year?

August 15th, 2018

As hard as it is to believe, we are almost half-way through the year.  As a result, we should be thinking NOW about what to stop, start and continue for the second half of the year.  I learned this exercise from my HR mentor (a P&G-trained guru) as we performed it with our team with great results (thanks Debra!).

Stop, Start, Continue  

Here are the questions to ask yourself and your team:

  1.  Stop – What should we stop doing?  This is actually the hardest. Not only do I find it hard to stop doing things I’ve included in my daily and monthly routines, my clients seem to find this quite challenging as well.  Are you selling to a customer and losing money? Or, does this customer always create some sort of hardship for your team? Is your team putting together reports because they always have even though they are no longer necessary?  Do you open them and make decisions based on them? If not, stop. Are you hanging on to that so-so supplier because you’ve developed a nice friendship even though they are no longer delivering or are at high cost? Perhaps you should have a discussion with them about it.
  2.  Start – Let’s assumed you’ve stopped something.  Now you have time to start something new. I am bad at this sometimes as well – just add, add, add but not stop.  Are you falling into that trap as well? I am going through my activities currently and making sure to stop more (or at least equal) to the start activities.  Start those activities that you think will yield an improved return on investment. Undoubtedly, there are several of these opportunities if you look. We find that our clients have many more ROI opportunities than they realize when we perform an assessment – every time without fail.
  3.  Continue – Thank goodness, not everything we are doing should stop or start.  Continue those activities that add value and contribute a result. Do you measure success by activity (time) or by result?  I definitely advocate for the latter – you’ll double your success.

Put it in Context with Market Forces
Although it is always a good idea to take stock of what you should start, stop and continue, it will be helpful to put it in context with market forces.  Here are a few questions/priorities to consider.

  • Amazon Effect – No matter your business, you are being impacted by the Amazon Effect.  Elevated customer expectations, immediate deliveries, 24/7 accessibility, easy returns and more.
  • Customization – Who doesn’t want a product or service tailored just for them?  We all would. I am an executive platinum status on American Airlines and they always offer me a complimentary meal as a thank you for my status.  It’s a small thing but I do appreciate it.
  • Resurgence of Manufacturing – Somewhat in response to the Amazon Effect and the desire for customization, executives are discovering it makes sense to locate manufacturing and last minute customization close to the customer.  For example, even though California is not the state anyone would think for manufacturing, it makes imminent sense when you consider that it is the 5th largest economy in the world. If only we could get CA politicians to support us!  
  • Additive manufacturing – What could be closer to your customer than 3D printing on the fly?
  • Logistics rules -Again, when considering the impacts of the Amazon Effect and customization, it is quite clear that warehousing close to the customer is also desirable.  However, there are vast cost pressures.  So, you need to be thinking about how to take performance to a new level.  The same is true with transportation – if you even can source a carrier. The last mile is certainly gaining a lot of attention. “Last mile. Last minute” is my new favorite expression.
  • Global – We are in a global world.  Are you making global considerations as well as local ones?

What else do you think we should consider?  Drop me a line as I’m interested. No matter what – give the second half of the year some thought and you’ll increase your chances of success.

 



The Talent Shortage – What to Do…

August 3rd, 2018

In every conference and almost every conversation with a CEO or GM, the talent shortage arises.  

It is on our minds! At the E-Commerce and Logistics summit, it was a consistent theme from our panel “Freight, Frictions and the Future” and it arose with each keynote speaker (President of Package Operations for UPS, Director of Worldwide Public Relations for Amazon, and an SVP at Colliers International).  

 

 

Several of the issues that arose in context of the summit include:

  • Lack of drivers (and lack of understanding what drivers have to go through!)
  • Lack of high-tech skills
  • Lack of understanding the value of the jobs provided by logistics.
  • Shortage of resources across-the-board

If you want to thrive in this environment, strongly consider:

  1. Your leaders – people work for people; not companies.
  2. What your employees think of you – everyone in their circle or on social media will know.  Is your company attractive?
  3. Your brand – it is what will attract people to you.
  4. How you stand above the crowd – would you want to work for you?

Attracting good talent is a competition. Are you ready?



Are You Retaining Top Talent?

July 19th, 2018

 

Several clients have been short on top talent. With virtually zero unemployment, the traditional job search programs yield virtually 0% talent.  Even with an executive recruiter, you may be prone to lose your candidate at the last minute when his/her current job figures out they need to do a better job of retaining them and they take action.

 

To give you a few sagas from recent client examples:

  • I was helping a client determine what he needed (skills, aptitudes, behaviors). I agreed to review resumes to see if potential fit exists and to interview candidates.  Although he received lots of resumes, less than 1% were even worth a phone interview. My guess is less than 1% of those would be worth hiring. Talk about a SLOW road to filling an immediate gap.  
  • Within the last month, two clients used a recruiter (thank goodness as we didn’t have to take the slow boat to China).  They found a great candidate and lost the candidate at the last minute to an offer from the current employer who figured out they didn’t want to lose their employee.  Frustrating!

Instead of either of these scenarios, why not retain your key performers?  Start with the following:

  1. #1 People work for people; not companies.  Who are your leaders? Are you developing them?  In the last six months, this too has arisen. That’s an exciting part of consulting – you get to see it all!  In this case, it wasn’t good. Good people left a new ‘leader’. Think about the productivity of the ones staying to finish that ‘last year before retirement’.  How awful!
  2. Provide training opportunities.  People want to develop skills and advance their career which can be a win-win in terms of gaining skills to help you achieve profitable growth.  Check out APICS-IE’s classes for starters.
  3. Mentoring. The only way to improve behavior is through trial and error and modeling behavior.  

What are you doing to retain your top talent?

 



Supply Chain Management Is Evolving: How Will It Affect Your Enterprise?

June 12th, 2018

Operational efficiencies, productivity improvements, and cost savings are the top-three strategic advantages of cloud-based supply chain management, according to an IDG survey of senior managers and directors around the world. To gain these advantages, enterprises need to have infrastructure that helps them cost-effectively harness their large data workloads and move to the cloud easily.

In fact, the biggest challenge for most companies is figuring out how to have their on-premises infrastructure engineered in such a way that it mirrors the capabilities of the cloud. This way, when companies are ready, they can take their supply-chain data and make a seamless, fast migration to the cloud. Whether you’re a manufacturer, retailer, or large corporation, companies looking to gain real-time, complete visibility in their supply chain require integrated infrastructure with scalable data storage, processing, and computing power to get the job done.

To better uncover these benefits and how innovation and infrastructure are changing the supply chain, I spoke with Oracle and shared insights around helping businesses maximize value.

You’ve said that the customer experience continues to play a role in the transformation of supply chain management. How is it impacting both B2C and B2B industries?

We’ve all become accustomed to getting whatever we need, whenever we need it, with frequent status updates and easy returns. We’ve raised the bar. And it leads to a host of challenges for vendors, mainly in the sense that they need a wide breadth of products available to meet customer demand at any time.

Even though the vast majority of my clients are not in the retail or B2C world, they’re all impacted by this elevated experience. I was recently talking with a couple of distribution executives who said that, several years ago, there was a small percentage of deliveries that were due on the same day, if any. Now, roughly 80 percent of the orders they receive are expected on the same day. They’ve had to start working on Sundays because customers—including business customers—are expecting these extremely rapid deliveries.

There are several other ecommerce themes that are changing supply chain management. One is 24/7 accessibility: the ability to place orders and look up your order status whenever and wherever you are. Another is rapid customization. One of my clients has become number one in his industry by making sure his company provides not just rapid deliveries, but also quickly customized orders. His company does things like paint on the fly, which doesn’t normally happen in manufacturing.

What is the technology that is making this supply chain management transformation possible?

Blockchain impacts supply chain management by allowing for immediate visibility and transparency of global financial transactions—like electronic data interchange (EDI) on steroids. When products require traceability, such as if you have a recall, you can use blockchain to immediately see where your products are in the supply chain and who paid for what. That traceability can certainly be achieved within ERP software already, but if you require the next layer of complexity and immediate transparency, then blockchain technology could be useful.

Big data is another aspect of technology that is changing the supply chain landscape because companies can better tailor the customer experience when they know more about what the customer wants. IoT comes down to data, because you’re trying to attach the data together between different devices. In manufacturing, IoT shows up in preventive maintenance and anticipating when a machine might break down before it happens. When you see how different elements are working together, you can target what needs to be fixed or maintained, without just following a schedule that may or may not be addressing a real problem. This can reduce waste and improve efficiency.

But data is just as challenging as it is helpful. Before we get to work every day, we receive lots of messages between emails, texts, videos, billboards, and messages from our cars—everything is connected these days. The biggest challenge that my clients face is that they’re overwhelmed with data, but they also want and need the data to provide a better customer experience and understand what their customers really need. And they also want to figure out how to do that in a scalable and profitable way.

The challenge is how to sift through all the data that’s collected and put it all together into something meaningful and provide information at your fingertips. My clients are very interested in solutions like dashboards, and it’s a key ingredient in selecting the software; however, getting it implemented correctly is difficult.

 

It sounds like the right infrastructure that can manage multiple data sources and provide actionable insights can improve the entire supply chain process. What about the role of the ERP system in supply chain management? 

We’ve improved supply chain performance significantly by focusing a lot of effort on the demand plan. Instead of using the older perspective of a monthly forecast and whether it’s accurate as is, we’re looking at how we can do this in a more agile, flexible way. The ERP system needs predictive analytics to be able to modify a demand forecast on the fly.

Also, by using vendor-managed inventory systems, we’ve been able to reduce lead times. We’re able to meet short lead time orders that we couldn’t previously meet, with the same or slightly lower inventory levels, at a 5 percent margin improvement. It wasn’t solely due to demand planning, but that was the first step.

Once you get beyond demand planning, the next element is going to be a more agile production schedule geared to the customer—one that’s going to offer suggestions, give you notices, and be exception-based, so that you don’t have to put as much manual effort into it. The demand plan flows down into the production schedule, and then capacity analysis is the next key topic.

What steps can enterprises do to modernize their supply chain management?

We’re in the era of the customer, so start with the demand side of the equation. There are ways, regardless of what your tool set is, to improve upon your demand now and your prediction of future demand. You may not have a system in place to do this yet, but regardless, you should be doing more to look at the demand within your supply chain.

One other quick tip is to look at what information you are getting out of your system and how you can better utilize that information. I find that no matter what client I’m working with, we can always do a better job of accessing information and taking the most relevant information to make better decisions. Even if your system isn’t yet modernized to the point of predictive analytics, you want to move in that direction. You can do this by just getting information from multiple sources and creating a simplified database.

What will supply chain management look like in five years or 10 years from now, and what technology can help take enterprises there?

We’re going to continue seeing the ecommerce effect: the importance of speed, responsiveness, and agility, and the rise of smaller, more frequent orders. All of my clients are interested in managing their vast supply chain networks with lower costs, but better service. They’re trying to find technology to support these goals and figure out how to automate using AI and data.

One ideal future is with 3D printing, because you can print what you need, where you need it, when you need it, and further extend your supply chain. Even then, distribution is going to have costs associated with it, and the last mile will continue to be one of the biggest challenges. Delivering all these smaller, more frequent orders to both consumers and businesses impacts transportation negatively and your distribution network significantly. You need your inventory strategically located closer to a customer, or to have flexible manufacturing capabilities that can respond quickly to demand. The system comes into the picture when you want to set up your network to have what you need, where you need it. How to improve delivery metrics will continue to be a key consideration in the future.

If we can reduce the cost to manufacture and distribute inventory by leveraging supply chain management tools, we can reduce prices and actually do something as radical as bringing more manufacturing back to the U.S.

Take a Deeper Dive…

Supply chain management professionals are eager for new ways to leverage data to drive business value. It is important to understand, however, that successfully using big data requires the right infrastructure designed to manage multiple data sources and provide the computing power to deliver actionable insights across the entire supply chain process. The key to gaining business value from supply chain data is by using big data infrastructure that can acquire, store, process, and analyze huge amounts of data workloads for supply chain insights.