Tag Archive: processes

A Systems Checkup

February 16th, 2018

Early in the year is an appropriate time to perform a systems audit.  In fact, most clients could benefit from this at any time of the year as we often discover some significant gaps.  

As we look further, we consider this subset of the questions:

  1. Do you have clarity of your current processes? It certainly seems apparent to start here but there are many clients who would check a box less than a “B” rating.  How about you?
  2. Do your people and/or facilities perform processes in a standard way? Do you want them to do this?  Or do you encourage differentiation?  There is no right answer across-the-board here!
  3. Do you know how to utilize your ERP system to support your core processes? Do you hunt and poke around until you figure it out or is there clarity for the basic elements of the process?  Perhaps take a step back – does anyone know how to use the system to perform these processes?
  4. Do you look for opportunities to further leverage your ERP system by joining user groups, going to conferences, brainstorming with your team etc.? The vast majority of companies use 20% of an ERP system’s functionality.  Moving the needle to 30% of the best functionality for supporting your business objectives can accelerate results.
  5. How do your processes and systems interface with your customers, suppliers and other supply chain partners? If you don’t know, find out!  You might be missing a HUGE opportunity.

A regular audit of your system can uncover  types of opportunities.  When was your last checkup?



Is Your Supply Chain Ready for Growth?

December 9th, 2017

Recently, we worked with a large, complex organization to provide an external assessment of the supply chain organization and how well it was prepared to support scalable growth.  It reminded us of the value of taking an outside view every now and then.  Whether you take yourself outside of your organization, hire a consultant or ask an executive from another division or trusted customer to take a deep dive into your organization, you’ll likely wind up with a few ideas – or, at a minimum, a confirmation that your i’s are dotted and t’s are crossed and ready for growth.

Growth has many challenges
It is MUCH easier to downsize than it is to grow successfully.  NOT more pleasant but it is simpler to cut back.  Unfortunately, we are all too familiar with this exercise.  Yet growth has many of the same challenges:

Cash is a constant challenge – by virtue of growing rapidly, you spend money in advance of shipping and receiving payment.  The quicker you grow, the tougher it can be without a line of credit especially for a smaller organization.

  • Are your people ready for growth?  What “used to work” might no longer be sufficient.  Have you prepared for these needs?
  • Can your operations keep up?  Do you have the resources, equipment, and support resources?
  • Suppliers are likely to be ill prepared unless they are in lock step with your growth plans.  Regardless of the preparedness of your team, nothing will occur unless your supply chain is aligned.
  • If caught by surprise, you can certainly throw resources at the issue but to achieve scalable growth, you should have thought about your processes, systems, metrics and more.  For example, determining that you’ve outgrown your ERP system as you “hit the wall” is too late.  It will take time to select the best system for your needs AND it will take between 6 months to 18 months to implement, depending on your size, complexity, ERP partner, scope etc.

Growth is a hot topic.  For example, according to our recent Supply Chain Briefing, McKinsey predicts 20% manufacturing growth by 2025.  However, regardless of your industry, if your company isn’t growing, it is dying.  We have NEVER seen an organization “stand still” and “maintain” successfully.  Have you?  Thus, growth is core to success.  

Plan or After-Thought
The key is whether it is a plan or an after-thought.  Which is it for you and your organization?

 



Case Study In Increasing On Time Delivery Performance

February 14th, 2017
on time delivery

Do you have a bottleneck that is impacting service to your customers? Finding the source and fixing that bottleneck will accelerate improvement and customer service.

Situation: Our client struggled with low customer service levels since they cut back with inventory on the ‘wrong’ items during a time of tight cash flow. Of course to add fuel to the fire, the customer also wanted product to be delivered at least 20% earlier, ideally 50% earlier.

If our client didn’t find a way to respond quickly, they would risk losing key customers.

Path Forward: Upon looking at the order fulfillment flow, there were countless areas of opportunity. However, simultaneously working on these solutions would tax already-maxed out resources (who also were frustrated by angry customers) and accomplish nothing.

If everything is a priority, nothing is a priority. And, if you wait for all the details to align perfectly, you’ll start long after your key customers start looking to replace you. Instead, take a step back and do nothing except observe and take a fresh view of the people, processes and systems. Where are the vulnerabilities? Undoubtedly, each person/department will have a pet project. Eliminate all the noise and just look for the bottleneck.

Of course there could be more than one bottleneck but there will be one that is most significant. Start there. Find the source of this bottleneck and put all your resources on eliminating that bottleneck. If the bottleneck is in a particular area of your operation, the related supervisor is the most important person in the facility. If she/he needs help on a Saturday, everyone from the CEO to the line manager will find out how he/she can help. Solving these one at a time will accelerate improvement in delivery performance.

 

Did you like this article? Continue reading on how to be the Strongest Link in your organization:

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Is Your Supply Chain Ready for Growth?

 

 



Technical Innovation & Japan’s Bullet Train

November 17th, 2016

supply chain

While in Japan last week, I had the opportunity to ride the bullet train three times — and, even waited to go back to Tokyo from Mt. Fuji to see it whiz past since you cannot see it in action in Tokyo as a terminal station — simply amazing and FAST! The bullet train travels at over 300 kph. They always arrive on time and they are neat, organized, efficient, and safe. They account for potential earthquakes, etc.

We can certainly learn something from this engineering and service feat. And if that wasn’t enough, I learned that they have been testing a bullet train that goes 600 kph. It has been in the works for 10 years with several left to go. Innovation at its best.

technology innovation

 

One tip to implement this week:

Are you thinking about what might be needed 10 years out? Certainly, if you ask your customers, they might not be thinking about trains that go at 600 kph. Although I surprisingly couldn’t tell I was traveling at 300 kph, I wouldn’t think I needed to double it. Yet, I’m sure I’d be happy to get from point A to point B in half the time in today’s Amazon-impacted marketplace. Either way, breakthrough technology will have many uses.

In thinking about how to apply the bullet train concept this week, take a few hours out of your schedule for thinking 10+ years down-the-line. What do you think your customers might want? Bring in your top people. Assemble experts. Get ahead of the curve in thinking about the future and how your products, people, processes and culture will need to change.

Looking for more ideas to keep your supply chain connected? Access more tips and resources on my blog. And keep connected by subscribing to my newsletter and email feed of “I’ve Been Thinking…”

 



Leadership during Busy Times

October 3rd, 2016
calm leadership

Work amounts fluctuate but busy times are guaranteed. Set the work tone with calm leadership so team members don’t panic during hectic periods.

Every week is busy, don’t you think? We always think next week will be better, but is it? Doubtful. Another corporate priority arises. A customer wants to tour your facility. An employee calls in sick. Month-end reports are due. We are bombarded with data. Who knows what else might happen! If this is the status quo, the key is how to lead effectively during these busy times.

We have found that it is most effective to go against the tide. Haven’t you found that the most successful person is zigging when everyone else is zagging? Certainly in almost every stock market crash, everyone was in a panic to buy while the market was hot. So, how do we go against the tide with leadership during busy times? Remain calm.

Our clients with the best leaders remain calm under the most pressing of circumstances. Of course, when it rains, it pours. Thus, customers will not spread their issues out evenly throughout your week. Your machines will all break down at once – on 2nd shift when your supervisor calls in sick. How can we encourage our teams to remain calm yet act aggressively and proactively to resolve issues and raise the bar? Have you thought about implementing standards and processes? However, they will fail miserably without consistent leadership to back them up. Build resilience and flexibility into them. Stay on top of what is happening. Monitor progress. Celebrate successes. Provide opportunities for your people to succeed. Most will rise to the occasion.

Did you like this article? Continue reading on how to Profit Through People:

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