Tag Archive: Drucker Supply Chain Forum

Why Care About Rail?

May 8th, 2017

This past weekend, my APICS (premier association for supply chain and operations professionals) Inland Empire chapter had its spring executive panel and networking symposium on the topic of “Disruptive Innovations in Logistics”. We had an amazing panel of experts covering trucking, rail, import/ export, distribution and policy. It was clear that rail can have a profound impact on logistics, and there is much more involved in rail than obvious at first glance.

rail industry

For example, Union Pacific (represented on our panel) and BNSF are the two core freight rail lines supporting the U.S. There is an amazing amount of disruption and innovation going on in the rail industry to increase fuel efficiency, decrease emissions, enhance safety and improve outcomes for customers. For example, the new train configuration emits 15% less emissions/improves fuel efficiency. There are initiatives going on to stop any train from having an accident with any other train technologically. However, it is never as easy as it sounds. Will the tracks support it? Will the technology and satellites support it? Will the infrastructure support it? There is an amazing amount of money being invested as well. For example, a tier 3 locomotive costs around $1.5 million whereas a tier 4 environmentally-friendly locomotive that also maintains power and performance is double that amount.

What Should We Consider and/or What Impacts Could Arise?

You might wonder if rail matters to you. For the vast majority of companies, rail will impact the end-to-end supply chain in some manner which will impact them. On Friday, I met with a client who was re-evaluating their supply chain network. Rail is and will remain a key aspect of their network because it is an efficient way to transport goods across the country in combination with trucks, ports, etc. In this case, they transport finished goods; however, in many cases, it might not be that direct (and obvious). Many of our clients’ suppliers use the rail system extensively. When I was a VP of Operations and Supply Chain, rail was one of the modes of transportation we utilized (as it was lower cost and reliable, albeit a little slower), and of course, our suppliers definitely used it as well. Undoubtedly, it will impact you in one way or another.

Thus, it is helpful to be aware of what’s going on in the rail industry. Stay in tune with what issues are affecting your logistics system as these topics will impact costs, service and visibility at a minimum. Also, what disruptions are likely to occur? Are you ready for them? Are there risks associated with these areas? Certainly, natural disasters can have a profound impact, let alone strikes, accidents, etc. Within the last year, the freight rail systems largely came to a halt in Southern California due to fire. What backup plans do you have? And, do you understand how you are impacted by the rest of your logistics systems?

 



Do You Have Empowered Teams?

May 4th, 2017
empowered teams

Making sure customers have the best service sometimes means loosening the reins and giving employees more freedom to make on-the-spot decisions.

Lately, there has been a common theme at seemingly unrelated events — the importance of employee engagement and empowerment. Just in the last several weeks, it has come up at the Drucker Supply Chain Forum, the Harvey Mudd executive panel event, and at the CEO Summit.

Do you have empowered teams? Or do you just think you do? In thinking about empowered teams, we can ask a few pointed questions:

1. Do you communicate the importance of employees acting in the best interest of the customer? Do your teams understand what they are able to do to satisfy a customer?

2. If an employee makes a decision within reason of the guidelines you set and with the “right” end goal (whether or not it is the way you would have made the decision), do you pat them on the back?

3. Would your team members ever cite policies and procedures to internal or external customers as a reason something cannot happen if pressed for an answer? How do you think it makes your customers feel?

4. Can your teams spend money to satisfy a customer? How much is too much?

 

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Why Does Employee Engagement Matter?

April 25th, 2017
employee engagement

A disengaged workforce can cost you in productivity, profitability and lost customers. Engaging employees can be as simple as listening, giving feedback and removing obstacles to success

Employee engagement was a hot topic during the “Company Culture as a Competitive Advantage” panel at the Drucker Supply Chain Forum. Did you know that one of the most recent Gallup studies found that 67% of people are not engaged in the workplace? How horrifying is that?

Worse yet, what makes up the 67%? 51% are not engaged but 16% are actively disengaged. What? Can you imagine the obstacles to overcome to be successful in an environment where 16% of your team is working against you?

What can we do about employee engagement?

  1. Involvement– Involve your people in their work. It sounds obvious but rarely occurs. Can your employees have an impact on their work? Are they asked to participate in brainstorming sessions or kaizen events? Please, if you ask your team to participate, do not dictate the solution. You’ll create active non-involvement!
  2. Leadership– Ok, leadership can sound like motherhood and apple pie; however, have you thought about just one fact — employees do not leave companies; they leave leaders. Who is leaving your company?
  3. Performance management– Talk about a topic few leaders excel at doing, it is performance management. I was fortunate to have an OD/HR mentor who taught me almost everything I know about this topic. It is actually quite simple. Be upfront with your people. Provide immediate positive and constructive feedback. Address poor performers. This single action will achieve wonders with your stars. Don’t wait for once a year. Make time to meet one-on-one at least once a quarter.

 

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What’s Important in Technology?

April 18th, 2017
business intelligence

Technology is an integral part of managing your business and supply chain. Are you leveraging technology to improve your business performance?

It is quite telling that every executive panelist on the “Professional Pathways in Supply Chain” panel at the Drucker Supply Chain Forum (Walt Disney Company, Source Intelligence, Intelligent Audit and LMA Consulting Group) had a significant focus on technology. Supply chain and technology go hand-in-hand. Thus, what should we be thinking about when it comes to technology?

 

Although many technology topics arose, let’s focus in on three of the ones that pop to mind first:

 

1. Business intelligence – Every panelist agreed on the importance of business intelligence. In essence, how do you leverage data to see trends, make decisions, etc.? For example, Intelligent Audit is almost exclusively focused on capturing and using freight data. Transportation can be vital to service, cost and much more. Source Intelligence connects you to your supply chain — they offer a data collection and compliance solution. Certainly, this is all about business intelligence as well. Lastly, similarly, every one of my ERP selection clients has business intelligence as a top priority. Do you?


2. Cyber security – Not surprisingly, every panelist concurred on the critical nature of cyber security. You don’t even have to attend a special event to figure this out. If you read the news, you should be sufficiently concerned about security. 


3. Strategic use of data – Somewhat closely aligned with business intelligence yet broader in concept, the strategic use of data is becoming a hot topic. Imagine how much data the Walt Disney Company has in its archives and what you can do with such a goldmine. This topic is especially related to supply chain if you think about the data connecting your supply chain. Again, since Source Intelligence helps you connect to your supply chain, they are in the business of the strategic use of data. Are you considering how you can capture supply chain data and better leverage it to elevate your business performance? 

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Drucker Supply Chain Forum Executives Share What They Look for in Supply Chain Professionals

April 11th, 2017

What are executives looking for in supply chain professionals? That was the topic of the panel I participated in at the Drucker Supply Chain Forum with executives from the Walt Disney Company, Source Intelligence, Intelligent Audit and CSCMP. So, what is the consensus?

1. Broad knowledge– Supply chains are global and more complex in today’s world. Thus, a broad and diverse set of skills is required to be successful in the field. If you have the opportunity to try a new area you wouldn’t have requested, give it a shot. You might just enjoy it. Worst case, you’ll have built skills that will come in handy as you move forward in the supply chain profession.

2. Technology– There is no doubt about it. Supply chain and technology skills must go hand-in-hand. If you aren’t keeping up with what’s needed to be effective in the current environment while also looking ahead, you’ll be left in the dust. Artificial intelligence is gaining momentum. Cloud computing is the norm. Collaborating across your supply chain is becoming commonplace. Are you on top of these topics?

3. Communication & presentation skills– Unfortunately, no matter how smart your solutions and ideas, none will proceed if you cannot present them effectively. And, that is just one aspect. Consider how to collaborate across your supply chain without these skills. Not feasible.

4. Risk– Your supply chain cannot be effective without thinking about the impact of risk. There are countless types of risk around us – cyber, natural disasters, financial, political etc. Have you at least considered the most impactful and likely risks?

5. Sustainability – This topic continues to gain steam and popularity. Are you thinking about how to turn sustainability into a win-win-win?   

 

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