Category: The Strongest Link in Supply Chain

Manufacturing is on the Move

August 17th, 2019

 

Reshoring was at record levels in 2018! Manufacturers are starting to return as they see the total costs of offshoring combined with the rising costs in China and improved competitiveness of the U.S.

According to an Industry Week article by Harry Moser, almost 1400 companies announced the return of 145,000 jobs in the last year. This trend was starting to occur prior to the tariffs. Now, the tariffs are expediting the return. Manufacturers are also realizing they can gain a competitive edge with rapid customization close to their customer base.

Additionally, even in commodity products, companies are reevaluating how to remain competitive and diversified. Hasbro is the latest company to look at diversifying away from China. According to Industry Week, Hasbro, the largest toy maker globally, said that it planned to move from 75% to 50% production in China by the end of 2020. They are looking at Vietnam and India.

There is a transformation occurring. Executives are more concerned about relying on any one source of production (China), and are diversifying. Intel is reviewing its global supply chain.  And, there are rumblings that Apple and Amazon are working on a plan B.

What Should We Consider and/or What Impacts Could Arise?
Speed and agility are critical to thrive in today’s marketplace. Start thinking about how you can radically reduce lead times while accelerating cash flow (reducing inventory levels) and increasing profitability. It is no easy task . Yet, it is what is required to thrive in today’s Amazon-impacted world. What can you do to get ahead of this curve?

Like the big dogs from the Industry Week article, should you be thinking about diversification? Or should you be re-shoring? Or should you buck the trend and offshore while everyone else is re-shoring? There are many companies who would be in far better shape if they had taken that approach 10-20 years ago when every Board member wanted to see an increase in outsourcing. There are no perfect answers except to be thinking about these impacts on your industry, your supply chain partners and on your company so that you can take a proactive stance instead of a reactive one. What will you do to successfully navigate these waters?

Certainly, re-shoring, near-shoring and diversifying are topics related to creating a resilient supply chain. If you are interested in an assessment of your situation, contact us. You’ll find more information on these types of topics on our resilient supply chain series.



Is Your ERP System Scalable?

August 14th, 2019

erp successSince we happen to be working on 3 or 4 ERP system projects concurrently, the topic of ERP is top of mind.

Let’s start by saying upfront that we turn down ERP selection project requests. Not everyone needs a new system. Perhaps a process upgrade and better utilization of your current system will sustain your business for 3-5 years. If so, why divert attention? On the other hand, waiting “too long” will quickly spiral into disaster. How do you know which of these is your situation?

An ERP upgrade is one of the most significant initiatives a company can undertake, and the statistics aren’t good. 80% fail to achieve the expected outcome! Yet, if your ERP system isn’t scalable, hiding your head in the sand will lead straight to unmitigated disaster. Thus, it’s best to be proactive, diligent and strategic when it comes to this topic.

Selecting a system isn’t something to delegate to your IT person. Instead, it is something you must “own”. After all, if your system will support your resources so that you can grow the business with the peace of mind that your system will enable a high level of customer service with additional customer-friendly capabilities (such as a customer portal), support your #1 asset (your employees and partners) behind the scenes and allow your business to scale with minimal if any investment of time and resources, it suddenly becomes quite relevant.

The 80/20 of success relates to just two items:

  • Your critical success factors – what is unique to your company or industry and/or what drives customer differentiation and profitability
  • Your design and implementation partners – although the focus typically goes to the software, as with business, the 80/20 of success is with people and partners.

Having an ERP system that supports your business objectives is another key component of creating a resilient supply chain. If you’d like a rapid assessment on whether your ERP system will support your growth and business objectives, contact us. And please check out our resilient supply chain webpage.



How Any U.S. Company Can Survive a Trade War with China

August 5th, 2019

 

With all that is going on with China in terms of trade wars, currencies, natural resources and more, it begs the question of what we should be thinking about doing business with China. Is it prudent?

Thanks to APICS Inland Empire and International Business Attorney and expert, John Tulac, we are sharing APICS-IE’s webinar on “How any Company Can Survive a Trade War with China”.

Note: The webinar is about 60 minutes.

What Should We Consider and/or What Impacts Could Arise?
We should be aware and considering potential impacts on our business. Think about any direct ties to China with supply as well as indirect ties with our extended supply chain. Undoubtedly, everyone has at least an indirect tie to China, and so we all better think about impacts and implications!

Stay on top of trends and highlights. Get involved with organizations such as APICS-IE to participate in events and network with resources. For example, make plans to join our semi-annual symposiums where we feature an  executive panel and networking opportunities.  Mark your calendar for our Fall 2019 Symposium on “Collaborating for Advanced Manufacturing & Supply Chain Success“.

Also, contact experts such as John Tulac to help navigate more complex situations. Remember, a penny saved that costs you thousands and hundreds of thousands down-the-line is by no means “a penny saved”.

Certainly, the topic of trade wars relates squarely in the resilient supply chain camp. If you are interested in a resilient supply chain assessment, contact us. You’ll find more information on these types of topics on our resilient supply chain series.

 



Is CRM Valuable?

July 30th, 2019

A Client Question
When clients decide to upgrade ERP, they also look at CRM (customer relationship management) because it makes sense to align the technology infrastructure into a common platform that will be fully integrated and scalable. However, what if it isn’t part of an ERP project? When does it make sense to jump into the CRM world? One client asked us just this question.

The Answer
In their case, they could achieve a powerful return on investment with CRM. It provided the tools and technology that would strengthen their relationship with their current customers, as well as help them expand sales with current customers and create a pipeline of new customers. Specifically, when meeting with customers, the sales reps gained insights into customer preferences and ways to strengthen the relationship. If they captured those ideas into CRM on the spot, the next person who interacted with that customer could see the notes and tailor the conversation. These seemingly small preferences can go a long way!

In terms of expanding business, they needed robust sales reporting that would tell them if they were falling off in a particular area or if they sold one product without its complimentary product so that the sales rep could follow up. Last but not least, they wanted a way to track potential new customers and expansions of business. For example, if a reseller was opening a new facility, they wanted to track it in CRM so that everyone had access to the timing, forecast, and other critical information. Also, since it was a collaborative sales environment, they wanted a way to track potential new customers and where they were in the sales cycle so that they could forecast future sales and the likelihood of it occurring. Sales forecasts were the 80/20 of success in this client because it was in a high growth mode where cash forecasting is of critical importance.

 A simple CRM solution fit the bill. A few years later, they were ready to upgrade their ERP infrastructure. At that time, they had the base CRM disciplines functioning and so it was an easy transition to a fully integrated system with CRM functionality. This client has been recognized multiple times for its substantial growth and success.

Food For Thought
Although CRM systems can be a great idea (as it was in our client’s case), if your sales and support teams aren’t ready to enter at least the key data, you’ve just bought an Audi that sits in your garage.

Start implementing process disciplines early. Enter information about your customers that will be handy at a later date.

Start tracking key meetings and prospects. Are you able to make good decisions from what you are tracking? If not, wait!

Aggressively push to start tracking vital information about your customers, even if you put it in Outlook or a spreadsheet to start. Soon you’ll be ready for a simple CRM solution, followed by more powerful ones as you get used to driving your car on city streets, you’ll be ready to brave the freeways.

If you are interested in running your situation by us, contact us.

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SIOP/ S&OP and Bottom Line Benefits

July 27th, 2019

According to a Hackett group study, the benefits of SIOP (Sales, Inventory & Operations Planning) can be dramatic.

First, let’s back up to describe SIOP: It is an integrated business process that aligns demand with supply through which the executive/leadership team continually achieves focus, alignment and synchronization among all functions of the organization.

In our experience with over 20 SIOP projects, our clients have experienced these same results (and often even better ones), no matter the industry, company size or priority. Simply put, when done well, you’ll have more cash, profit and revenue. What’s not to like!

The types of results fall into three buckets:

  1. Working capital – Undoubtedly, freeing up inventory to increase cash flow is becoming a greater priority as executives realize just how much cash is tied up in servicing customers’ Amazon-like expectations with global supply considerations. Therefore, it is not surprising that we’ve received a serious uptick in requests to increase inventory turns. SIOP is always a part of the solution. Hackett research says 20-30% improvement is to be expected. We have certainly found this to be true.
  2. Cost reduction – Whether we term this cost reduction or margin improvement, 5-10% improvement is what the Hackett study shows. We have seen these results, even by default (when the SIOP program was focused on improving service). Thus, if they can be achieved by default, they certainly can be achieved with focus! Items that fall into this category include material cost reduction, freight cost reduction, labor productivity improvement, and fixed cost optimization.
  3. Sales growth – According to the study, a 2-4% improvement is not uncommon. We have experienced dramatic results in this area with lead time reduction, on-time delivery performance improvement, customer scorecard wins and strengthened partnerships that lead to new and expanded sales opportunities.

For example, in a significant metals-related aerospace business, we started the SIOP journey to reduce inventory levels to free up debt. By partnering with sales to better understand customer requirements and by better aligning the sites on a single plan and set of priorities, we were able to align demand with supply. It was truly about alignment as the performance measurements couldn’t be completely changed (and they often didn’t support the same decisions as SIOP). Yet, we gained executive alignment and focus. This led to our ability to align the various functional areas on a single objective while still recognizing the site level objectives. Therefore, we were able to reduce the inventory in the core product line by 30% while ensuring customer satisfaction levels were maintained or improved.

The question isn’t whether you’ll benefit from implementing SIOP. The only question relates to what you’ll achieve based on your priority focus. Will it lean in the direction of margins, cash flow or customer loyalty and revenue growth? If you’d like to learn more about how to benefit from SIOP, read about it in our blog, explore our proprietary process for SIOP, 4 Excel or contact us to discuss an assessment.

 

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