Rip City Interview: What is Going on with Toilet Paper?

March 28th, 2020

I was very excited to be interviewed by Rip City about why grocery stores cannot keep toilet paper in stock. We discussed how we can resolve the issue so that toilet paper and other essential supplies are back in stock and how the supply chain works. Listen to the interview on Rip City.

For additional coronavirus information, resources and strategies, please visit the coronavirus resources section of our website.



Supply chain strategy: Modernization tips from Lisa Anderson

March 27th, 2020

As Published in:  Ratelinx

For business leaders looking to modernize their supply chain, the technology investment is the easy part: Evaluate solutions, calculate the ROI, make your business case, and take delivery. Sure, it can be tricky to get sign off on these tech investments, but it’s a business problem with a logical solution.

The more challenging part is preparing your organization to take full advantage of that investment. That means getting people on board, ready for the change, and developing new processes that take full advantage of the new tech.

“High tech must be accompanied with high touch,” says Lisa Anderson, supply chain consultant and President of LMA Consulting Group, Inc. “The most successful supply chain leaders will remember that people are their number one asset.”

We asked Lisa for her perspective on the current state of supply chain, the key trends that are driving change, and how you can prepare your team for what comes next. Read on to learn what she had to say.

Modernizing Your Supply Chain Strategy

The right supply chain strategy includes technological investments, process refinements, and a change management plan for your team. It should be detailed enough to act upon, but flexible enough to account for changing trends. Here’s how to get started.

Key Trends Driving Supply Chain Modernization

For most businesses, there are two factors that make modernization essential. First, there’s sustainability: Consumers are looking to buy from sustainable companies. That means companies are under pressure to not only work with sustainable suppliers, but to prove they’re doing so.

The second factor is perhaps an even bigger driver for change: The demand for near-instantaneous, free shipping for ecommerce. “In the next five years, customers will be expecting Amazon-like service levels at affordable rates, regardless of the high levels of disruption,” Lisa says. “Reshoring, near-sourcing, and sourcing reevaluation will be major concerns.”

Lisa predicts high levels of adoption for new technologies to meet these demands. “The use of technology such as artificial intelligence, IoT, predictive analytics and other technologies will enable meeting these customer needs while maximizing profit and cash flow,” she says.

 

“In these early stages, it’s important to focus in on the
most relevant data to drive decision-making. ” 

Getting Started with a Modernization Strategy

The actual nuts-and-bolts process of building a strategy is the same as solving any problem in your organization. “Start with the outcomes you’d like to achieve,” Lisa says, “then perform an assessment and gap analysis of your people, processes and technology. Assess your change management capabilities to achieve your outcomes. Finally, design the solution and build an implementation team.”

The process may be familiar, but knowing where to start can be a challenge. The first step should be getting a clear picture of your current supply chain. “Start simply and create a dashboard or availability screen that shows your supply chain status; however, remember that if you don’t pay attention to process disciplines, garbage in will result in garbage out,” says Lisa.

In these early stages, it’s important to focus in on the most relevant data to drive decision-making. But don’t try to boil the ocean: “Data plays a vital role; however, do not get sidetracked and overwhelmed with data. Start with your No. 1 priority, find directionally correct data and enable visibility,” Lisa says. “Once your team and supply chain partners understand this data, move to the second largest priority.”

Once you have your supply chain mapped out, you can start to implement solutions that will pay off in the short term and in the long run. A.I. and IoT initiatives have the potential for a quick win. Lisa says in her consulting work, she’s seeing “Artificial Intelligence and IoT used in predictive analytics and forecasting as top priorities. Getting ahead of customer demand drives significant supply chain value.”

Train and Hire the Right Skill Set

For Lisa, the human element is an often-overlooked, but crucial, part of supply chain modernization. “I’ve found that a more dramatic ROI can occur by aligning the people, even more than the data and the process,” she says.

When bringing in new talent, Lisa recommends looking for data science fundamentals. “Data analytics, the ability to leverage ERP systems and think through down-the-line impacts as well as tying business process to systems design are all part of the equation,” she says. “But we should also look at soft skill requirements, such as the ability to collaborate.” Collaboration, big-picture strategizing, and lateral thinking are all essential characteristics of a modern supply chain expert.

The ROI Potential of Supply Chain Modernization

Remodeling your supply chain is not without risks, and it’s a process that takes time and resources to ensure success. But the rewards are worth the effort. “It depends on the situation, of course,” says Lisa, “but it isn’t uncommon to see a five or 10:1 return on investment from supply chain transformation improvements.”



Supply Chain Heroes: How CFOs Can Help Save the World

March 25th, 2020

As Published in: Oracle/Modern Finance

Early this year, the largest asset-management company in the world made a bold announcement: It would start redirecting investments away from fossil fuels because of climate change. In his annual letter to CEOs, BlackRock CEO Larry Fink stated that “climate risk is investment risk,” and that risk is driving a fundamental reshaping of finance.

“Because capital markets pull future risk forward, we will see changes in capital allocation more quickly than we see changes to the climate itself,” he wrote. “In the near future—and sooner than most anticipate—there will be a significant reallocation of capital.”

For manufacturers, retailers, and others that move business or consumer goods, a reallocation of capital will require tighter alignment between the CFO and supply chain leaders. This is already happening among the leading-edge CFOs I meet because they recognize the end-to-end supply chain is driving customer experience, profit performance, and working-capital improvements.

As more companies start reshaping strategy in response to climate change risk, this CFO/supply chain alignment will become more critical to achieving business and environmental goals. In fact, CFOs could find themselves being the heroes of the next decade’s climate-change success stories.

Assessing the payoff for climate change initiatives

CFOs will need to be front-and-center to assess climate change initiatives related to packaging, material handling, transportation, and logistics because changes in these areas tend to have widespread impact.

For example, consumer packaged goods (CPG) companies are feeling the most pressure from climate change activism right now. Packaging is a big target for waste reduction but switching container sizes or materials can have direct and indirect cost implications. There’s a change in direct costs for replacement packaging, but material handling and transportation costs also could shift because of weight, storage, handling requirements, and other relevant factors.

Another example is investment in technology systems. For instance, buying products that are sustainably sourced and handled is important to a lot of consumers, and trust is essential for companies that want to differentiate themselves on this point. New blockchain applications are enabling this verification down to a granular level. While an ideal investment from a marketing point of view, what will the impact be on logistics? Will shipments slow down or speed up? How will the change affect fulfillment and customer satisfaction?

Cloud applications and other advanced technologies have made it easier to conduct real-time analysis and identify upstream and downstream impacts from business decisions like these. Such decisions will require collaboration and ongoing discussions between finance and supply chain leaders to meet all business requirements successfully.

Supply chain health and environmental health are linked

Even if a company isn’t a leader in climate change-reduction efforts, improving supply chain performance will naturally make operations more environmentally sustainable. I’ve seen this over and over again in my decades of working in supply chain management.

Supply chain services and assets are expensive and don’t usually generate cash, so they’re a frequent target of cost reduction. The outcomes of these cost-reduction efforts reduce environmental impact because fewer miles are traveled, inventory replenishes more often and doesn’t become obsolete, and there’s less material waste in damaged goods and over-packaging.

This might be an obvious example, but when you think about on-the-horizon innovations, such as biofuels made from landfill waste and autonomous vehicle and aircraft deliveries, you can see how supply chains could become proactive enablers of reducing climate impact.

Another reason for CFOs to focus on supply chain when developing an impact-reduction strategy is it could help recruit supply chain talent. We’re experiencing a shortage of supply chain professionals across manufacturing, retail, logistics, and a range of other companies. Having a solid stake in climate change-reduction efforts could help attract limited talent, especially Millennials. A recent survey found that 75 percent of Millennials said they would be willing to take a pay cut to work for a company that is environmentally responsible. And nearly 40 percent said they have chosen one company over another in the past because their choice had a better environmental record.

Millennials will comprise three-quarters of the workforce within six years—so statistically, companies with stellar environmental practices will be a top position to recruit talent.

Finance and supply chain: Teaming up for sustainable operations

First and foremost, CFOs want to be good stewards of business assets. For many companies, the supply chain is central to value creation. So, it’s not surprising that CFOs at these companies are paying closer attention to their supply chains from a cost point of view.

Now, climate change is raising risk in ways that require a rethinking of how to grow and protect those assets. As markets begin to respond and shift, supply chain leaders and CFOs will find themselves facing the challenge together.



Coronavirus: Resources for Businesses & Individuals

March 20th, 2020

What else could we be thinking about this week?!?!

Of course, the coronavirus is top of mind. I met with a group of top notch trusted advisors yesterday (via Zoom) and we shared resources. We had trusted advisors including CPAs, attorneys, HR consultants, bankers, insurance providers and many more. Because it was so valuable for each of us, I wanted to share these resources with you. Click here

We will continue to add links with valuable information in each section. For example, there are articles on FAQs for employers, working remotely, how to keep your sales team motivated and several more. We will continue to add articles as well.

Now that the basics are covered, I’ll also be adding manufacturing and supply chain specific articles and videos. Stay tuned here.

One Tip to Implement This Week:
Although the news is quite unsettling, the key is to follow the guidelines for social distancing, be extra careful but do NOT stop.

Some of our clients cannot keep up with the volume (for example, food processors/manufacturing).  Some have seen a quick slow down (for example, those supporting schools).  Others are concerned with the 90-120 day likely slooooow down from China (The latest reports show that China is back up to around 50%; yet, it depends on your unique situation as some are 70-80% and others much worse) and some are seeing a mixed bag.

No matter your situation, there are strategies you could use to move forward successfully. Spring into action!

Of primary focus is to get in touch with your supply chain. Talk with customers and suppliers. Don’t just stop there. Find out about your customers’ customers and your suppliers’ suppliers. Understand your landscape and put action plans in place. There was never a better time to extend a helping hand into your supply chain. We’ll talk about many more actions in a special series to be launched in the next few days but start here.

Last but not least, it is a stressful time for many and please try to remember with each interaction!



Going Live on a New ERP System and the Importance of People

March 16th, 2020

With a client going live on a new ERP system shortly, it is top of mind. As is ALWAYS the case, as you get close to the finish line, issues pop up and it feels like one nightmare after another. With that said, the team is doing well and we are tackling what arises.  I am confident that we’ll be successful!

Yet, going through the process certainly highlights the critical importance of people during projects of significant organizational change. All people matter in these types of significant projects – the business owner or executive, the ERP project team, sponsors, the day-to-day troops and related parties.

 

How do you respond as you are sleep deprived and maxed out? Perhaps we should all think twice about how we respond to situations and whether we let bias and the lack of sleep cloud our judgement because it certainly has an impact on people!

For example, on the positive side, the business owner we are working with is very supportive to the team. He showed up with Customer Service to key orders on the weekend and is willing to spend money on tools and technology that will make it easier for his team. He also tailors his style to the person. For example, he saved a particular type of coffee for one of the project team members because she mentioned she would like it. This type of support goes a long way to encouraging the team to carry on through the typical trials and tribulations. On the other hand, there is always a negative Nellie or stress creator.

How do we navigate these types of waters successfully? And do we realize the power of people?

One Tip to Implement This Week:
Take a step back from what you are doing and think about how you are perceived. In our experience, people do not perceive themselves the same way that others perceive them. In fact, they might think they are fine but the frown on their face, the tone of their email or their attitude carries a different story. We find that people see through non-genuine comments. For example, if you say one thing but it is clear the opposite is how you really feel, what you really feel is going to shine through. You also have to be consistent or people wonder what is going on even if you are good with them.

The opposite also holds true. There have been times when it is clear the executive was concerned about something but presented a positive, can-do attitude, and the mood shifted to a bright outlook. In this case, the executive truly believed the situation can be navigated even though he didn’t know how (at the moment), and so his belief in the future shone through. Your attitude will spread. Have you checked yours lately?

Remember the power your comments, attitude and actions have on others. Are your going to spur the team to success or hold them back? Each person makes a difference. Don’t think because you aren’t the project manager or the business owner, you don’t have an impact. You will!