Tag Archive: Oracle

Supply Chain Management Is Evolving: How Will It Affect Your Enterprise?

June 12th, 2018

Operational efficiencies, productivity improvements, and cost savings are the top-three strategic advantages of cloud-based supply chain management, according to an IDG survey of senior managers and directors around the world. To gain these advantages, enterprises need to have infrastructure that helps them cost-effectively harness their large data workloads and move to the cloud easily.

In fact, the biggest challenge for most companies is figuring out how to have their on-premises infrastructure engineered in such a way that it mirrors the capabilities of the cloud. This way, when companies are ready, they can take their supply-chain data and make a seamless, fast migration to the cloud. Whether you’re a manufacturer, retailer, or large corporation, companies looking to gain real-time, complete visibility in their supply chain require integrated infrastructure with scalable data storage, processing, and computing power to get the job done.

To better uncover these benefits and how innovation and infrastructure are changing the supply chain, I spoke with Oracle and shared insights around helping businesses maximize value.

You’ve said that the customer experience continues to play a role in the transformation of supply chain management. How is it impacting both B2C and B2B industries?

We’ve all become accustomed to getting whatever we need, whenever we need it, with frequent status updates and easy returns. We’ve raised the bar. And it leads to a host of challenges for vendors, mainly in the sense that they need a wide breadth of products available to meet customer demand at any time.

Even though the vast majority of my clients are not in the retail or B2C world, they’re all impacted by this elevated experience. I was recently talking with a couple of distribution executives who said that, several years ago, there was a small percentage of deliveries that were due on the same day, if any. Now, roughly 80 percent of the orders they receive are expected on the same day. They’ve had to start working on Sundays because customers—including business customers—are expecting these extremely rapid deliveries.

There are several other ecommerce themes that are changing supply chain management. One is 24/7 accessibility: the ability to place orders and look up your order status whenever and wherever you are. Another is rapid customization. One of my clients has become number one in his industry by making sure his company provides not just rapid deliveries, but also quickly customized orders. His company does things like paint on the fly, which doesn’t normally happen in manufacturing.

What is the technology that is making this supply chain management transformation possible?

Blockchain impacts supply chain management by allowing for immediate visibility and transparency of global financial transactions—like electronic data interchange (EDI) on steroids. When products require traceability, such as if you have a recall, you can use blockchain to immediately see where your products are in the supply chain and who paid for what. That traceability can certainly be achieved within ERP software already, but if you require the next layer of complexity and immediate transparency, then blockchain technology could be useful.

Big data is another aspect of technology that is changing the supply chain landscape because companies can better tailor the customer experience when they know more about what the customer wants. IoT comes down to data, because you’re trying to attach the data together between different devices. In manufacturing, IoT shows up in preventive maintenance and anticipating when a machine might break down before it happens. When you see how different elements are working together, you can target what needs to be fixed or maintained, without just following a schedule that may or may not be addressing a real problem. This can reduce waste and improve efficiency.

But data is just as challenging as it is helpful. Before we get to work every day, we receive lots of messages between emails, texts, videos, billboards, and messages from our cars—everything is connected these days. The biggest challenge that my clients face is that they’re overwhelmed with data, but they also want and need the data to provide a better customer experience and understand what their customers really need. And they also want to figure out how to do that in a scalable and profitable way.

The challenge is how to sift through all the data that’s collected and put it all together into something meaningful and provide information at your fingertips. My clients are very interested in solutions like dashboards, and it’s a key ingredient in selecting the software; however, getting it implemented correctly is difficult.

 

It sounds like the right infrastructure that can manage multiple data sources and provide actionable insights can improve the entire supply chain process. What about the role of the ERP system in supply chain management? 

We’ve improved supply chain performance significantly by focusing a lot of effort on the demand plan. Instead of using the older perspective of a monthly forecast and whether it’s accurate as is, we’re looking at how we can do this in a more agile, flexible way. The ERP system needs predictive analytics to be able to modify a demand forecast on the fly.

Also, by using vendor-managed inventory systems, we’ve been able to reduce lead times. We’re able to meet short lead time orders that we couldn’t previously meet, with the same or slightly lower inventory levels, at a 5 percent margin improvement. It wasn’t solely due to demand planning, but that was the first step.

Once you get beyond demand planning, the next element is going to be a more agile production schedule geared to the customer—one that’s going to offer suggestions, give you notices, and be exception-based, so that you don’t have to put as much manual effort into it. The demand plan flows down into the production schedule, and then capacity analysis is the next key topic.

What steps can enterprises do to modernize their supply chain management?

We’re in the era of the customer, so start with the demand side of the equation. There are ways, regardless of what your tool set is, to improve upon your demand now and your prediction of future demand. You may not have a system in place to do this yet, but regardless, you should be doing more to look at the demand within your supply chain.

One other quick tip is to look at what information you are getting out of your system and how you can better utilize that information. I find that no matter what client I’m working with, we can always do a better job of accessing information and taking the most relevant information to make better decisions. Even if your system isn’t yet modernized to the point of predictive analytics, you want to move in that direction. You can do this by just getting information from multiple sources and creating a simplified database.

What will supply chain management look like in five years or 10 years from now, and what technology can help take enterprises there?

We’re going to continue seeing the ecommerce effect: the importance of speed, responsiveness, and agility, and the rise of smaller, more frequent orders. All of my clients are interested in managing their vast supply chain networks with lower costs, but better service. They’re trying to find technology to support these goals and figure out how to automate using AI and data.

One ideal future is with 3D printing, because you can print what you need, where you need it, when you need it, and further extend your supply chain. Even then, distribution is going to have costs associated with it, and the last mile will continue to be one of the biggest challenges. Delivering all these smaller, more frequent orders to both consumers and businesses impacts transportation negatively and your distribution network significantly. You need your inventory strategically located closer to a customer, or to have flexible manufacturing capabilities that can respond quickly to demand. The system comes into the picture when you want to set up your network to have what you need, where you need it. How to improve delivery metrics will continue to be a key consideration in the future.

If we can reduce the cost to manufacture and distribute inventory by leveraging supply chain management tools, we can reduce prices and actually do something as radical as bringing more manufacturing back to the U.S.

Take a Deeper Dive…

Supply chain management professionals are eager for new ways to leverage data to drive business value. It is important to understand, however, that successfully using big data requires the right infrastructure designed to manage multiple data sources and provide the computing power to deliver actionable insights across the entire supply chain process. The key to gaining business value from supply chain data is by using big data infrastructure that can acquire, store, process, and analyze huge amounts of data workloads for supply chain insights.

 



ERP Implementation: Keys to Success

October 17th, 2013
 ERP implementation

Achieve expected returns from your ERP implementation by following three keys to success.

I’ve found that noticing and acting on trends can be a key to success from both a professional and personal perspective.

Lately there have been plenty of trends to notice; however, a noteworthy one is that I’ve received several requests and/or inquiries about ERP implementation, post go-live support, and how to leverage ERP systems to drive business results. One of my recent speeches, “Leveraging ERP for Bottom Line Results” has become a popular topic, and as companies are beginning to think about investing in ERP again, it is all the more important to ensure success with your ERP projects in order to achieve the expected returns.

In my experience in working with multiple companies in a variety of industries and globally on implementing and leveraging the use of ERP systems to drive business results, I’ve seen the good, bad and ugly and have derived a set of best practices for achieving success.

A few of the keys to success include the following: 1) Build core metrics into the process upfront. 2) Focus on exception processes. 3) Look for ways to simplify

1.   Build Core Metrics into the Process Upfront – Building core metrics into the process upfront is undoubtedly the #1 key to success. For example, in one Oracle implementation, the company went over and beyond to ensure success by hiring not only Oracle consulting experts but also process experts to ensure a seamless transition; however, there was a significant gap with the day-to-day business. As is typical in implementations, often your best internal experts become involved with the implementation (and not focused on prior responsibilities), transition to new functions in the business or are dealing with entirely new business processes tied to the new system; thus no one is minding the store.

In my example, although there were people tasked with metrics and it appeared that the teams were well-organized, no one realized they were shipping significantly less immediately following the go-live. Soon, it built on itself, and they were suddenly behind and scrambling in shipping, production, planning and purchasing as well. Customers suffered! And costs increased. Instead, I’ve found that if you determine your core metrics upfront (or as soon as you realize your gap) and develop a simple tracking process; you’ll avoid unnecessary chaos and upheaval to your business.

 2.  Focus on Exception Processes – I’ve found that although there is typically a concentrated focus on testing all of the core areas of the business, implementations fall short with exception processes. I’ve yet to see an implementation that wasn’t struggling to maintain deadlines; thus, you are often fortunate to get through the testing and pilot process with your main functions let alone exceptions. Unfortunately, how many typical days are without exceptions (no mistakes, no entry errors, no changes in customer orders, and no delays in purchase orders)? Not many!

As exceptions begin to occur, the processes fall apart. It builds upon itself as well-intentioned employees find workarounds to resolve the exception which creates down-the-line issues. Instead, it is vital to ensure exceptions are incorporated into the training process. If that ship has already sailed, make sure to focus a team of people on bringing the organization up-to-speed on how to handle exceptions.

 3.  Look for Ways to Simplify – Last but not least, look for ways to simplify – your processes, systems and implementation. It is easy to get side-tracked in complexity when implementing a new system, as you want the system to do everything you previously couldn’t do as well as you wanted in order to achieve your business goals.

However, I’ve found it is at least 10 times better to simplify:

1) Boil down your desires to your core business drivers – what are your profit drivers? What aligns with your strategy?

2) Align your systems with your core business drivers through your critical success factors – typically, there are a handful of functionality areas to focus on in order to ensure the system will support your business and guarantee a smooth transition with key customers.

3) Ensure that the team focuses on these areas, even if it’s at the detriment to the rest of the areas. I’ve found this is easier said than done; however, the rewards are substantial. Implementing and leveraging systems can help drive business results; however, they often cost FAR more than intended with poor results due to implementation chaos.

Take a look at implementing a few best practices and turn a potential mess into results!

Why not start on the right foot by syncing lean with the business strategy, integrating it into the culture and putting in the effort to implement solid operating principles? Not only will you deliver bottom line results but you’ll also develop a culture of continuous improvement?



Critical Priority – Retaining Top Talent

August 22nd, 2013
LMA Consulting, Critical Priority – Retaining Top Talent

Attracting and retaining talent is critical to your success.

I’ve lost count on how many times I’ve heard different Executives/ businesses lament over two polar opposites on the same day:  1) We have to cut back immediately (which typically begins with people) , 2)  We cannot find the appropriate talent to perform a critical role. How can this be?

Unemployment remains high; however, employers also struggle in finding the appropriate talent to fill key roles. According to a May 2009 survey conducted by Oracle, Deloitte and the Manufacturing Institute, 51% of the responding companies reported moderate to serious shortages of skilled production workers and 36% reported similar shortages of engineers and scientists. My guess is the numbers are even higher now!

Of course, I have a perspective on this paradox. First, according to Executive Recruiters, it is actually harder to find top talent during a recession because people are less likely to change jobs (and most roles are filled by the 90% employed workforce). Second, the types of skills required for the available jobs require a higher level of specialized technical training than what is typically available. Third, a significant portion of the workforce is considering retirement when laid off (the baby boomers), and there is significant knowledge tied up with them. Thus – our paradox. To potentially make matters worse, there are many top performers who are waiting for the job market to improve to jump ship to better opportunities or to companies who appreciate their skills.

Although a comprehensive effort is required to address this situation effectively so that your company or department is one of the few positioned for success, focusing on retaining top talent is undoubtedly a great place to start. And it’s likely that you are more at risk than you think – so what should you do? 1) Flip the typical situation upside down. 2) Address non-performers. 3) Ensure frequent communications.

  1. Flip the typical situation upside down. Instead of focusing most of your energy on the issues and non-performers, focus the majority of your effort on your top talent. It sounds easy but is far from easy to implement. Yet this one simple rule can make all the difference in the world!The idea is to focus your efforts on those who drive your department and/or company’s results. What roadblocks are they facing? Do they understand the company’s goals and priorities? How about the value they contribute to achieving these goals? And the value of their leadership? If not, you are missing a huge opportunity – in my experience working across multiple industries and globally, your top performers are the 80/20 of your results. When the situation is vital, who do you go to? Why wouldn’t you focus there?
  2. Address non-performers. One of the best incentives for a top performer (assuming they are paid within reason for the role based on the market) is addressing non-performers (at a minimum, not rewarding nonperformance – yes, surprisingly, it occurs all the time). Interesting and absolutely true. What better proof that performance is valued! And, for a top performer, what better way to validate that the company understands what’s required and is on track to succeed?
  3. Ensure frequent communications. Although this sounds like suggesting motherhood and apple pie, it is often overlooked – and not nearly as easy as it sounds. My most successful clients are those who spend the majority of their time clarifying goals (and why they matter), explaining how each person can contribute to them, and providing continual feedback – positive, constructive, and always immediate.I often hear push back on this process – “we are too busy with critical customers, projects etc.”; however, how will we ever resolve these topics without the focus of our top talent? Surely spending 5-30 minutes on your most valuable resource is doable!

If you are the one to retain top talent as the recovery spreads, you will not only have the opportunity to surpass your competition but you will likely attract other top talent – what could be better to position your department and /or company to be the market leader?