Category: Project management

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



Why Join A CEO Group?

December 6th, 2019

We recognized Ron Penland as our 2019 LMA Advocate. Ron has added value to our business in many ways over the years ranging from insights on what’s relevant to manufacturers and distributors and their bottom line to valued connections. Since Ron runs CEO groups, I thought it made for a good segue to discuss the value of interacting with peers. Are you drinking your own Kool-Aid or do you get push back when you need it?

You might want to consider the unpleasant idea of gaining input even when you don’t want to hear it. The proof is in the pudding. Certainly, Ron’s CEOs have been FAR more successful than even the average CEO group as his CEOs get 2 to 3 times the multiples for the sale of their businesses when compared to the industry averages. That alone is noteworthy. I joined one of his groups simply to better understand what is on our clients’ minds. Of course they tell me what relates to our project but if I understand more about the broad spectrum of issues, I can ensure LMA provides an even more powerful return. That is an important win-win – the more value we help our clients create, the better for both of us!

Do you have any venues for interacting with top notch peers? After all, just interacting with someone in a peer position willing to talk to you could be even worse than being a hermit! Kash Gokli, head of Harvey Mudd’s manufacturing practice and Director of their clinic program and I gather CEOs a few times a year to help foster a community of executives and to discuss timely topics in our Harvey Mudd executive roundtables. Of course, we don’t go into depth and specifics of company performance like you do in a CEO group. Yet, it can add definite value. Contact us if you are interested in joining us.

There are other options as well for building these invaluable connections. Think about volunteering for a community benefit to provide expertise. In the Inland Empire and surrounding areas of Southern CA, we are starting a consortium for advanced manufacturing and supply chain success. We are currently looking for manufacturers and exporters who would be interested in being involved from the ground up in an advisory capacity. Please contact the Inland Empire Economic Partnership (IEEP) or me if interested. And a local manufacturing executive asked me to participate in CAIEDEC which is an organization supporting export. CEOs are involved in both of these initiatives and these groups are the first to pop to mind.

There are plenty of opportunities to gain ideas, insights and push back. Are you seeking them out? If not, why not? Wouldn’t you like to exceed corporate objectives to fast-track your career or sell your company for double the industry average? Pick just one item to test this month, and results will follow.



Manufacturing Summit Recap: Innovation & Top Talent

August 27th, 2019
My videos from the Manufacturing Summit, had key themes along with insight into the exciting opportunities for the Inland Empire and advanced manufacturing and how it all tied in with LMA Consulting’s “2019 Predictions from Manufacturing & Logistics Executives” document.

 

I’ve included the quote from Roy Paulson, president of Paulson Manufacturing to kick us off on the state of manufacturing. As Roy says, US manufacturers are thriving and will continue to thrive, assuming they have a focus on innovation.
Innovation is one of the key themes that emerged from the keynote speakers at the summit from Fender and Tesla as well as through the innovation award winners. Going hand-in-hand with innovation is a focus on people. Listen to my recap about the summit and what’s relevant to manufacturers today:
As Lance Hastings, CEO of California Manufacturing & Technology Association said at the summit, the Inland Empire is thriving. There was greater growth in the Inland Empire than any other area of California.  However, far more impressive than that is that the IE beat out the nation (in a state that typically isn’t too keen on manufacturing).
The Brookings Institute agreed with the conclusion in their recent study on the Inland Empire. One of the key recommendations was to create a consortium for advanced manufacturing and logistics success. You’ll be hearing more about this exciting, once-in-a-lifetime opportunity in the coming months. In addition, Governor Newsom is supportive of this path forward and so we are ‘jumping on it’.
If you are interested in staying in the loop on this initiative, please email me so I can add you to the distribution list.


Resiliency & Innovation Go Hand-in-Hand

February 22nd, 2019

With the high level of volatility and disruption that is commonplace in today’s business environment, creating resiliency has become a must. What we’re seeing is that creating resiliency and an innovative culture go hand-in-hand. If we find a resilient team, they are also innovative, and if we find one that is fixed in nature, it is very unlikely to be resilient. Do you have an innovative culture?

Innovation is very misunderstood. It doesn’t require “new” in most cases.  It is rare to find something completely new unless you are in certain industries such as the pharmaceutical industry.  Even Apple didn’t create the original idea behind the iPod which has now been incorporated into the iPhone.  It actually came from the Sony Walkman (remember those?). At that time, no one knew they needed to walk around with music. We have come a long way, and Apple has made that easy!

Since the Innovation Awards at the Manufacturing Summit provide a good example of different areas of innovation, I thought it would be beneficial to list them below to spur thinking:

Take a quick look at the video as well which talks to the innovation awards.  Of course, these are just those recognized at the Manufacturing Summit currently (and we are always interested in feedback and ideas).  There are many more categories. Perhaps it will stimulate a few ideas though.

innovation for project successInnovation doesn’t have to be complicated and complex.  What unexpected successes have you had?  Can you find ideas in those?  I just returned from a global consulting strategy group meeting, and one of our members did exactly that to spur one of his companies forward from struggling with intense competition and no way to stand out from them to rapid and significantly more profitable growth.  I am confident that this same type of success can be found in almost every client. Are you looking?

We can help you with that. Contact us if you’d like to discuss further.

 



Project Failure: How to Avoid Top Causes

January 16th, 2014
LMA Consulting Group Project Management

Communication is vital to project management success. Are you looking for different methods to make certain your messages is getting across?

So much of an organization’s success is tied to project success!  Can you think of any significant organization initiative or improvement that didn’t tie to at least one project?  I’ve worked with many organizations, across diverse industries and globally, and I cannot think of a single example.  Therefore, what could be more important than figuring out how to ensure project success?

I did a quick survey of clients and business contacts to find the top three causes of project failure. If we address these, we’ll greatly increase our chances of success. The survey identified the following as the three most common stumbling blocks on the path to project success:

1. Lack of a Clearly Designated Project Leader:  It’s amazing how many times this seemingly simple issue arises.  There are many reasons:  The project team is a group of peers and no one is assigned or assumes leadership.  No one wants to assign a project leader because everyone already has a full-time job and is swamped (especially in today’s business environment!). Each department assumes the other department will lead the project.

However, there is nothing more important to project success than the project leader.  There are countless reasons. A few of the most vital include: the project leader must clearly articulate the project’s goals.  The project leader must facilitate the development of the project plan with clearly designated tasks, milestones and accountabilities. The project leader must proactively address roadblocks and ensure the team completes the tasks on time and within budget.  Finally, the project leader must communicate progress to the appropriate parties.

Undoubtedly, your project will derail without a clear project leader!

2. Lack of Clear Expectations and Goals:  Following on the heels of no clearly designated project leader is no clear expectations and goals.  Even the best project leader cannot succeed without clear expectations and goals.  What is the objective of the project?  Why is the objective important to the organization?  How does each project team member add value to achieving the goal?  Is the goal clear?  Is the timing understood?

For example, for one client, the end goal was clear (inventory reduction); however, the project team didn’t have clear expectations and goals at first.  Thus, the branches had no incentive to share inventory figures, which was a main component in reducing inventory. As a result, progress was largely at a standstill until the project objectives and metrics were clarified.

3. Communication Challenges:  Communication challenges are common yet can deter even the best projects.  Even in the best of circumstances, it is easy to suffer from miscommunication and confusion.  Did you play the game of telephone as a young child?  Just in case you haven’t, I’ll explain – the game starts with a person who communicates a message to the next person.  And it continues until the message has gone around to the last person in the circle.  By the time it gets to the last person, it never resembles the original message!  Thus, it can be a lot of fun to hear the mixed up messages your friends come up with after 10 to 20 interchanges.  And this is when each person is trying to convey the correct message.  So, imagine what occurs when organizational confusion and politics get involved.

Aside from typical communication issues, there is also a plethora of other communication challenges, ranging from cultural and language communication barriers to functional communication barriers (such as sales people communicating with technicians and finance folks talking with R&D).  These can pose a serious roadblock.  For example, I’ve worked with many project teams containing numerous team members where English was a second language.  Typically there have been two or three different primary languages.  Even with an excellent project leader it can be complex to ensure that communication is clear and that everyone on the team is aligned with the path forward.  Otherwise, it can be easy to run around in circles – even well-intentioned ones.It is vital to communicate, communicate, and communicate.  I’ve found that you have to repeat important project communications multiple times.  Try saying it in different ways.  Try different communication vehicles.  Ask team members for their understanding.  Send reminders.  Follow-up.  Never stop communicating.

According to my clients, if you can mitigate these three most significant causes of project failure, you’ll be one of the few to succeed – on-time, on-budget, and on-expectation.  Why not become the organization to “get it right” – and pass your competition by accelerating project results?

Want to read more about Project Management?  Read our other posts.