Tag Archive: demand

Quoted in the Signal on Restocking Shelves Amid the Novel Coronavirus

March 29th, 2020

I talked with the Santa Clarita Valley Signal on the problems keeping shelves stocked amid the coronavirus lockdown. We talked about the end-to-end supply chain and what impacts the supply chain would have on how quickly the shelves would be restocked. See below for the reprinted article from the Signal.

In an effort to replenish empty shelves amid the coronavirus outbreak, Santa Clarita Valley stores have implemented changes they believe will help keep the products in the hands of customers, but it will take cooperation from the shoppers.

Consumers have scrambled at both the staple and mom-and-pop grocers in search of toilet paper, bottled water, cleaning products, medicine, and perishable and dry goods, as fear of COVID-19 continues to affect everyday life.

Rest assured, however, that stores, from Costco Canyon Country to Ralphs in Valencia, are restocking every day and that there is no supply shortage, many said Tuesday.

At Trader Joe’s on Bouquet Canyon Road, for example, refilling shelves is a daily occurrence, but “we don’t have a say of is what’s coming in,” said a store employee who did not wish to provide a name. “For instance, we might have a little less on eggs on a day than the day before by a couple of cases, but every day, we do get a shipment, seven days a week.”

Similarly, local destinations such as Stater Bros., Vons, Target, Costco and smaller shops, such as Friendly Market on Sierra Highway, said they refilled every day, but what was restocked varied based on what is currently available from suppliers.

Who and how distant their suppliers are can affect how swiftly stores restock, said Lisa Anderson, a Claremont-based manufacturing and supply-chain expert and president of LMA Consulting Group Inc.

“It really very much depends on your particular supply chain,” she said Tuesday. “Certainly, overall, there’s going to be some impact. However, right now it’s more of a bullwhip effect,” meaning consumer demands can cause companies in a supply chain to order more goods to meet the new demand.

Several retailers depend on China, where COVID-19 originated, for supplies, but major, direct disruption might be too soon to tell, said Holly Schroeder, president and CEO of the SCV Economic Development Corp.

“I think people are really dealing with the immediate matter at hand,” she said. “Some companies, since the China trade war, have begun moving or diversifying their supply chain but as the virus affects different countries, you don’t quite know how everything will play out, which creates a lot of uncertainty.”

In the face of uncertainty, retailers are working to control what they can, such as reducing store hours to allow for more restocking time and placing a limit on the number of items customers can purchase in one trip, in an effort to deter shoppers from hoarding.

While they restock, however, customers are asked to do their part, at least one company said Tuesday.

“Now the company is asking for help from its local communities,” Stater Bros. said in a statement. “Please refrain from purchasing items you won’t need for the coming week. Be assured we are working closely with our manufacturers and suppliers to replenish our store shelves daily.”

These efforts can help across the nation, but in the SCV with a huge community-feel presence, now’s the time to “pull together and share some resources that might go a long way,” said Anderson.

“It doesn’t mean that we should be going around standing next to everybody, but find a creative way to help someone out.”

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



Future-proofing Your Supply Chain

February 21st, 2020

Disruptions abound in supply chain circles. Just consider any of the following recent events: the tariff war, global unrest, the Coronavirus, natural disasters such as the volcano in the Philippines, the Hong Kong protests and more.

We have never had a client that could claim that 100% of the extended supply chain (from suppliers’ suppliers to customers’ customers) was inside the U.S. So, we have to be prepared to navigate these types of disruptions and the related impacts.

Disruptions certainly go beyond your physical supply chain. What about your human capital, technologies (accompanied with processes) and strategies? Refer to our article on future-proofing your skills gap and assess which risks might be on the horizon in your industry.

When it comes to technologies, there is no doubt that emerging technologies are gaining steam and are starting to transform supply chains. Just consider the application of collaborative robots, automation, RPA (robotic process automation), artificial intelligence, IoT, blockchain, and predictive analytics to name a few. Big name companies are dropping big dollars into these technologies. When thinking about strategy, remember strategy is no longer a multi-year exercise. We must be thinking in terms of strategic sprints. Who knows what will happen beyond a year out!

Several high-level categories should be assessed as you think about your supply chain:

  1. Sourcing – Are you sourcing from China? Is this a viable path forward to source 100% from China? There are increased risk factors to consider. Listen to an interview I conducted with John Tulac, international business attorney, on future-proofing and doing business with China. It is time to reevaluate your supply chain footprint.
  2. Logistics – There are significant disruptors transforming this industry, ranging from e-commerce and the the Omni-channel to robotics, additive manufacturing and the digitization of the supply chain. If you aren’t incorporating these impacts in future-proofing your supply chain, you will be left in the dust. These are concepts of focus for the consortium for logistics success in the Inland Empire to enable companies to stay informed and keep up with the fast pace of change.
  3. Manufacturing – Industry 4.0 is transforming manufacturing and changing the landscape. It will be a pivotal year that separates the winners vs the losers as advances are made. See what the National Association of Manufacturers’ Leadership Council sees as critical issues
  4. Demand & Supply – There is no doubt, there is a keen interest by business owners, executives and private equity leaders on creating predictable demand and forecasting sales. The more we understand our demand plan, the better our operational performance, supplier performance and customer performance. Read about SIOP (sales, inventory, operations planning) and how it can help future-proof this area.
  5. Inventory – As the disruptions abound and executives fear a slow-down, the proactive management of inventory and advanced collaborative programs are gaining in relevance. Pick up some tips and strategies in our recent article ” Inventory Management as Fashionable as Automated Intelligence for Distributors” for ACHR News.
  6. Metrics & Predictive analytics – Keeping a pulse on performance should remain a top priority while forecasting what will be needed.

Getting ahead of the curve might be the only avenue to success. Consider creating a resilient supply chain and future-proofing your supply chain. Stay tuned and read more about it, and If you are interested in discussing a supply chain assessment, please contact us.

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Do You Know Your Demand?

October 23rd, 2019

This has been emerging as a hot topic. As clients are interested in meeting ever increasing and changing customer expectations while managing long supply chains, changing rules and regulations (including tariffs), and concerns over the cash flow implications of high inventory levels have resulted in discussion around the critical importance of demand. Do you have a handle on your demand plan over the next 12 months?

According to Gartner, every 1% improvement in forecast accuracy will result in 7% less finished goods inventory and 9% reduction in inventory obsolescence. A 1% improvement is imminently doable! Also, according to the experts, a 15% improvement in forecast accuracy will drive a 3%+ increase in pre-tax performance. Last but not least, in our experience, it is one of the best ways to drive a simultaneous improvement in customer service, cash flow and profit.

Every client we talk with says the same thing: Our sales are unpredictable. We have a custom business. We follow lean principles and produce in concert with customer demand. Or, our sales team is on top of it and are already doing everything they can to give us a heads up on demand. We don’t doubt that. However, we have also never come across a situation that couldn’t be improved. With the dramatic results that follow, it proves well-worth the effort.

Instead of brushing off the idea of focusing attention on demand, just think about what could be improved. It isn’t an exercise to beat up sales or planning. In the end, if that is what happens, there is no doubt that is part of the issue. The forecast must be collaborative with input from sales, marketing, customers, planning and anyone who interacts with customers or has input relevant to future demand. With that said, the best forecasts start with a simple statistical base. What do you do?

I’d be remiss if I didn’t point out that you should use your forecasts in your S&OP/SIOP process (sales, inventory, and operations planning) to align your demand with your supply so you can maximize your customer value and your bottom line. If you’d like to discuss your situation further, please contact us.

 

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Is Demand Planning/ Sales Forecasting Hype or Valuable?

September 9th, 2019

According to Gartner statistics,significant bottom line results can occur with just a 1% improvement in forecast accuracy. In fact, there are staggering improvements in lead time, inventory reduction and margins, so why not at least explore the idea? There are lots of worries expressed by clients and contacts:

  • We cannot predict what our customers will order!
  • Customers don’t even know what they will order! (And, in seeing these ordering patterns, I concur that this is often-times an accurate statement.)
  • Since we are using lean, our lean consultant told us we no longer need forecasts.
  • We are a small company and don’t have resources to focus on forecasting
  • And my favorite, “Why in the world would our significant sales team listen to you?”

I just have one question, if depending on the industry and study, a 1% improvement can lead to a 2.7% to 7% improvement in cash flow and minimally a few percentage points cost improvement in key categories such as freight, wouldn’t you be remiss if you didn’t consider your forecasting process? Of course you would be!

We have yet to run across a client that couldn’t improve the forecast, no matter how daunting the task seemed. Since the outcomes are substantial, it was worth the effort.  And, the effort was typically minimal compared to aligning the people on the forecast.

A few tricks of the trade in driving results with forecasting:

  1. Let your tool (whether Excel or a sophisticated system) do the work for you – From an 80/20 standpoint, there is no doubt that a simple tool will perform far better than even your best person. Develop your base.
  2. Focus on exceptions – On the other hand, your team is best equipped to provide insights and feedback on exceptions. Use their strengths.
  3. Drive results, not blame – Remember, the definition of a forecast is that it will be inaccurate. I’ve yet to run into a client with a perfect forecast. With that said, the three most impressive were across the board – a $100 million dollar facility of a multi-billion dollar aerospace organization with a manually generated forecast, a close to billion dollar consumer products company with a home grown system and smart people, and a rapidly growing <$10 million dollar manufacturer with an Excel-based system with smart, agile and process-oriented people. None of these folks ran around blaming anyone with forecast inaccuracy yet they all outperformed their competitors.

Perhaps it’s time to take a second look at your sales forecasting process. Who is responsible? How does it work? You never know what you’ll discover as you shine a flashlight on the process. If you’d like to discuss forecasting and demand planning further, contact us.

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The Value of Alignment: Sales, Operations & Finance

May 30th, 2019

Alignment might sound like a fluffy concept, but it delivers bottom line results. Our most successful clients have achieved the most substantial results from alignment. Although SIOP (Sales, Inventory, Operations Planning) gets a wrap as a technical topic, in our experience, it is the alignment portion of SIOP that delivers the bacon!

For example, in one client project, the Sales Leader was concerned about service levels. He knew that service was the differentiator in the marketplace, and if they didn’t have quick lead times and responsive customer service, it would negatively impact his ability to grow the business. On the other hand, planning knew that sales tended to come in dramatic spikes which were hard to predict in advance and so strategic inventory could make sense. Operations wasn’t too keen on inventory since they had a lean mentality with the view that inventory was ‘bad’, and they were concerned about capacity and staffing. Accounting set rules on overhead rates as a percentage of sales on a monthly basis which caused HR and Operations to hire and fire temps continually (and sometimes full-time resources). Overtime wasn’t used as a rule of thumb and was seen as costly by management, In fact, it was the only client we’ve ever worked with that didn’t use at least some percentage of overtime on a continual basis. And, of course, R&D created new products and had no idea about the volume and the impact on capacity and staffing. In essence, no one was on the same page!

We created a demand plan based on historical forecasts with sales input, confirmed the capacity and staffing levels required to meet that forecast and determined that if we level loaded the forecast over a quarter, we could create a win-win: improved service during the sales spikes with improved margins (lower temp turnover, improved efficiencies etc.). But it didn’t matter if we didn’t align the team. That was the 80/20 to creating success (and is ALWAYS the hardest part). Fast-forward 3-6 months down-the-road: We shortened service dips from the sales spikes, increased the service levels and reduced costs.

These types of client results are commonplace with alignment no matter your position in the supply chain or the world. Have you considered whether your teams are saying they are aligned or whether they are truly using the same playbook? It often will make the difference between a happy customer and a disgruntled one (which isn’t something anyone wants in today’s on-line era), let alone the profit impacts. If you are interested in an alignment assessment, please contact us.

 

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