Tag Archive: agility

Do You Have a Resilient Supply Chain?

August 11th, 2019

supply chain strategyThere is extreme volatility in today’s end-to-end supply chain.  Are you keeping up with all the changes?  For example, think about the following:

  • Tariffs & trade impacts
  • Data & security breaches
  • The Amazon Effect
  • New technologies such as 3D printing
  • Natural disasters, port strikes and more

The Resilient Supply Chain
Instead of allowing each of these incidents to impact you, we must create a resilient supply chain.  Are you proactively thinking about these topics?

  1. Agility– Instead of seeing agile as an IT or project management concept, we should be thinking about how to incorporate agility into every step / every piece of our end-to-end supply chain.  If a customer changes his mind, are we flexible enough to handle it?
  2. Speed – Is your supply chain set up for speed?  Customers are unwilling to wait.  I’ve found that I’m unwilling to wait anymore.  If I wait for a trusted advisor, service provider, subcontractor or even a client, it delays LMA Consulting. For us to be on the leading edge with clients, we must be ahead of the curve; not waiting for something that will be obsolete before we get it!  That is one thing we appreciate about our webmaster; he is speedy and understands priorities which is how we are able to announce a major content upgrade (thanks Scott).
  3. Predictive – In today’s complex world, we must also be predictive so that we are prepared from an 80/20 standpoint for the most likely unexpected events, trends and bumps in the road.  Thinking three steps ahead can go a long way in creating resilience.
  4. Collaborative – One of key components to creating a resilient supply chain with multiple partners is to collaborate.  There is no time to establish relationships and find ways to navigate volatility together if you haven’t already set a collaborative tone.
  5. Adaptive team – No doubt; the core to resilience is having an adaptive team where each members understands where he/she is headed and feels empowered to handle obstacles as they arise.

Have you thought about each interrelated partner, piece or parameter in your end-to-end supply chain?  How can you set it up to be resilient?



Do You Have an Eye to the Future?

February 9th, 2018

Do you have an eye to the future?  Don’t just answer yes and move on.  Take a few moments to consider this question.

In today’s Amazon-impacted world, if you miss a few months buried in your isolated internal world no matter the reason, you might miss a noteworthy event, trend or comment that could put you behind the 8 ball with no hope of catching up.

A 3-5 year strategy session once a year NO longer cuts it.  We are all in a strategic sprint.  In most industries, even going beyond one year out is a wasted exercise.  Instead, we should keep an eye to the future and build agility into our strategy setting process.  So, what are some ways we can keep an eye to the future?

  1. Pick up the phone and call a customer – Those clients who talk frequently to their top customers are far more successful than those who don’t.  Of course everyone is busy.  Offer value and make it is your customer’s best interest to keep in touch.  You’ll know more about what’s going on in the marketplace than those buried in month-end numbers, Board meetings and strategy sessions.  
  2. Attend an industry conference – Why do all the work yourself?  Network with those who are uniquely positioned to keep track of the latest trends and what might impact your industry.
  3. Have lunch with an old alumni friend –  You might wonder how this would help if your friend isn’t in a related field or isn’t a business owner or executive.  Keeping an eye on what’s happening in the world around you and gaining insights from trusted colleagues in different industries can provide some unique perspectives you won’t gain anywhere else.
  4. Involve your team in keeping an eye to the future – Certainly, if you provide the vision to your team (no matter the level), explain how the company is performing and encourage them to keep an ear to future trends, people will be happy to contribute to success.  We find that the best trends can come from unlikely places – the secretary you didn’t even notice or the person shipping orders who talks with UPS drivers.
  5. Watch the latest trends globally, economically– We are often surprised by how seemingly unrelated events throughout the world will impact suppliers, transportation channels, exchange rates or something else that will have a direct impact on business.  Subscribe to newsletters that can keep you up-to-speed on highlights, read the Wall Street Journal, talk with colleagues etc.
  6. Go visit a supplier– Don’t assign this to your procurement professionals solely.  Suppliers and trusted advisors can provide a wealth of knowledge that can help you navigate your path forward successfully.
  7. Join a CEO or key executive group – The problem with being at the top is that there is no one to talk to.  Find a new group of peers to ask the hard questions and keep you on track.

When you have a good idea of the future, you will position your company, your people, your processes, your infrastructure, your supply chain and more for success!



VMI – What are the Benefits?

June 6th, 2017
vendor managed inventory

Vendor Managed Inventory is gaining in popularity as people realize the many benefits of supply chain collaboration.

Vendor managed inventory (VMI) can have many benefits – both from a strategic perspective and a tactical one. We are seeing that it is gaining in popularity as manufacturers and distributors and retail locations see the value of collaborating with supply chain partners to drive dramatic benefit across the supply chain.

Why VMI? See these 5 benefits:

1. Increased revenue– By partnering with customers on VMI and customer collaboration programs, you become a trusted and value-added partner. As new business opportunities arise, we’ve found that those who offer VMI typically have an advantage. First, the customer knows they will have what they need, where they need it and when they need it to satisfy demand. Next, the customer knows it is easy to work with a VMI partner and so will prefer to expand capabilities with them. And, lastly, the customer is likely to recognize these preferred suppliers.

2. Responsiveness & agility– By collaborating up and down your supply chain, you build a greater agility and responsiveness into your supply chain. With a greater access to information and a quicker view of market changes, responsiveness will increase throughout.

3. Improved customer service & reduced lead times– Often, this is the most critical benefit across the board. With VMI, there is better collaboration, information-sharing and visibility. In every client project, we dramatically improved service levels and reduced lead times.

4. Accelerated cash flow– As inventory is managed across the supply chain, inventory levels can be reduced while service is maintained or improved. We have frequently reduced inventory levels to the customers’ target level while reducing supplier inventory by 20-60%.

5. Improved margins– As the supplier is able to plan across the supply chain, he/she is able to optimize transportation, warehousing and production efficiencies internally while meeting service and inventory targets for the customer. We have seen rather significant improvements (around 20%) by pursuing this opportunity.

Did you like this article? Continue reading on how to strengthen your Eagle Eye:

4 Keys to VMI

Cross-Supply Chain Opportunities



What is a Systems Pragmatist?

August 27th, 2013
A Systems Pragmatist thinks about and incorporates design every step of the way, and stays several steps ahead of the process.

Systems Pragmatists incorporate design every step of the way, and stay several steps ahead of the process.

Would you select curtains to spice up a house with a rickety foundation? I certainly hope not! Instead, you would resolve your foundation issues before even thinking about nice-to-have’s. So why do we spend countless hours picking out curtains and discussing color choices in businesses when our foundation isn’t stable?

Based on my 20+ years of experience as both a former operations executive and as a global business consultant, I find that more than 50% of my clients prioritize curtains over the rickety foundation – at least for a while. The excitement of implementing the latest lean program or ERP system outweighs blocking and tackling in terms of excitement, career interest etc.; however, it fails miserably. On the other hand, those companies who thrive ensure they design and implement solid processes and systems before even discussing programs that will build upon the base.

Since business processes and systems can become quite complex and cost millions of dollars, it is critical to simplify the design to what’s essential to your organization and focus on the core processes and related functionality that will support your business strategy and deliver bottom line results. This is where the Systems Pragmatist skill set comes into play – in essence, it cuts through the complexity to rapidly define, design and deliver the critical processes and system functionality required to elevate business performance.

Although we could discuss countless tips and techniques for designing and improving business processes and systems, there are a few core essential tenets: 1) Understand your objective. 2) Think design. 3) Execute & integrate with the culture.

1. Understand your objective: One of the worst mistakes my clients make is when they jump to solutions (process improvements, implementing the latest programs and selecting new technologies) before they understand the objective. As cool as the latest e-commerce functionality or S&OP results, it will become a complete waste of time and money if not aligned with the company’s direction and objection.

I have found a differentiation in my clients who leverage processes and systems to a competitive advantage vs. the rest – they think about design in every element of the process. Are you thinking 4 steps ahead in the process? How will it affect your ERP system results? Have you built in flexibility? Agility? Speed? Certainly, in the new normal business environment, those who have access to critical data for rapid decision-making, who accelerate products to market and who deliver faster than the competition will win the business. Have you thought about how to design these capabilities into your processes and systems upfront?

3. Execute and integrate with culture: Last but not least, the best design in the world is useless if it’s un-implementable! Software firms use the terminology of “build” and “run” to mean design a model or process trial and then roll out and utilize effectively. These can be good reminders to make sure you’ve dotted your i’s and crossed your t’s and that your process and system functionality work as expected.

An essential element of this phase is to integrate the business process improvements and system enhancements with the culture. Is it an after-thought or do folks think about it similarly to shipping orders (meaning it is part of their routine)? Embed the processes into the daily, weekly, and monthly routines. Consider potential roadblocks and bottlenecks upfront. Ask employees and supply chain partners for input and feedback. Test them out. Think through changes to related areas such as performance management systems.

I’d be surprised if you haven’t heard a horror story associated with a system implementation. There are countless reasons for them: Not enough training. The system didn’t do what we needed it to do. It wasn’t set up to work for the way we do business. We didn’t have enough time. It wasn’t tested thoroughly. And the list goes on. For example, I’m often times brought in by clients to help resolve system snafus that typically result in horrendous customer service issues and down-the-line negative profit impacts. 80% of time, the client feels as though the lack of training is the issue. Although it is always part of the issue, I find that it is 20% of the issue; whereas, design and integration with the daily routine is the 80/20.

Designing and implementing business process improvements and leveraging system functionality to drive business results can require an investment of time and resources. However, you’ll be left in the dust in your broken down Yugo if you don’t prioritize this critical priority. Why not get ahead of the competition by not only creating a solid foundation but also designing it as a strategic advantage to deliver a significant return on investment?

Did you like this article? Continue reading on this topic: Leverage Your ERP System for Bottom Line Business Results