Tag Archive: return on investment

Robots Taking on Pharmaceuticals & Food?

July 28th, 2018

 

According to the Wall Street Journal, robots are taking on pharmaceuticals and food preparation.  In pharmaceuticals, companies like Eli Lilly and GlaxoSmithKline are investing heavily in automation to radically change the process of drug discovery.   If robots can handle thousands of samples around the clock (although costs will decrease or be reallocated to more valuable tasks), these results pale in comparison with the vast opportunity to develop drugs quicker!

Are you radically re-thinking and innovating with speed in mind?

Meanwhile, a burger joint will open in San Francisco that makes $6 burgers entirely by robot.  Creator is betting that robots can create burgers more efficiently and better (with techniques borrowed from Michelin-star chefs) than humans.

Now the question will become – when the robot curious wears off, will people frequent a robot run burger shop?  Regardless, the question really becomes – are you considering whether robots or automation might benefit your customers and business value?

What Should We Consider and/or What Impacts Could Arise?
As much as we warn our clients not to get “too” carried away with robots and technology (as it is easy to chase these ideas down a rabbit hole leading nowhere), it is certainly worthwhile to think about the strategic use of technology as it relates to innovation, providing a superior customer experience and in improving performance.  If it fits with your strategy, doesn’t distract from your priorities (or preferably compliments and enhances them) and generates a return on investment, why wouldn’t you consider every option?

One client leveraged the use of robots (designed uniquely for them by internal expertise) so that they could run a critical operation around-the-clock.  They couldn’t find employees with the appropriate skills to run more than first shift and overtime.  And, they were constantly struggling to keep up with orders.  Once the robot was up and running, the bottleneck was virtually eliminated and customers received what they needed when they needed it.  The people on first shift took on the complex tasks, set the robots up to run at night and remained extremely valuable (even more so).

Have you thought about these type of unique innovations to propel your business?  We’ll be starting a new video and interview series, “Innovation: Fast-tracking growth and profits” shortly.  We’d love to hear about your suggestions and innovations.

 

 



Technology – Should We Take It or Leave It?

July 18th, 2017
business intelligence

Technology is a hot topic. It seems we can’t stop talking about Artificial Intelligence (AI), 3D printers, and Autonomous Vehicles. But many technologies can be fads. Pay attention to what value can be gained before buying in.

Technology is a hot topic. Artificial intelligence. Autonomous vehicles. 3D printers and additive manufacturing. Business intelligence. We can’t stop talking about it. Many times, these topics are somewhat like fads. Even though there are benefits, we can get carried away and not even pay attention to whether we are gaining value.

Thus, we should take a step back and ask a few questions:

1. Do we need the technology or is it just cool?

2. What value does it provide? Does it yield a return on investment? What is that return on investment?

3. What is most valued by our customers? Time? Price? Features? Services? Which best aligns with their needs?

4. Is the technology supporting the business goals or the other way around? Which is your lead for your conversations?

5. Are you caught up in bells and whistles or focused on value?

6. Are you leading with tech or with the customer experience?

7. What do your customers expect? Can you leverage automation for a win-win?

 

Did you like this article? Continue reading on how to become a Systems Pragmatist:

Technologies Transforming Supply Chains

What’s Important in Technology

 



Case Study in the Power of Design

February 21st, 2017
power of design

Taking a big picture view while simultaneously eyeing execution when implementing an ERP system will help companies not only achieve desired results, but do it quickly.

Situation: Our client had implemented an ERP system several years ago. As is typical when a system is implemented, they implemented the basics and then took a break to run the business. Although you start out thinking of vast improvements and how you’ll automate all sorts of processes, getting the foundation working effectively with high levels of customer service and some level of efficiency typically takes quite a lot of effort. The team is tired and needs to smooth out the day-to-day business. Understandable.

The good news is that they were set up for the future with an improved base. The bad news is that they didn’t know how to get from this new base to utilizing the improvements that would start to yield a return on investment. Their ERP partner moved on to other customers. Although they would return to work on improvements, our client wasn’t sure how to best utilize the ERP supplier’s expertise to jump to a new level of improvement. Instead, they stressed as they watched dollars fly out the window as hours passed, discussing these improvements. What could they do?

Path Forward: The key challenge is in translation between business objectives, process improvements and utilizing advanced functionality to support them. Most clients want to jump to one particular software feature (specific functionality) as the path forward that will cure all ills. In 80% of the cases, the software alone will only automate a less-than-desirable process, providing substandard results faster. Thus, the key is to find those resources in your organization or outside of your organization who can take the big picture view simultaneously with an eye to execution to figure out the best path forward, given your ideal business outcomes, your current situation (technology, process and skills-wise), technology advancements etc. Clients that pursue this path not only achieve improved results but they also achieve them rapidly.

Did you like this article? Continue reading on how to become a Systems Pragmatist:

Why ERP Success Has Little to Do With Systems

5 ERP Selection Pitfalls

 



The Right Combination of Technical & Communication Skills ROCKS!

February 20th, 2017

I am the Chair of the APICS West Coast student case competition, and we just wrapped up our 2017 event. We had 104 students from around the world fly into San Diego to compete. It was a really impressive group of students!

technical and communication skills

The competition is judged 50% on the technical score (the return on investment achieved after several rounds running a business simulation game) and 50% on the presentation to the Boards of Directors of the company. I have to say….some of the best presentations were those who didn’t perform as well on the ROI because they learned from it, took the positive attitude and used a creative mindset to show how they would improve in the future. With that said, just as is true in real life, you MUST have both the technical side (no empty suits can be successful long-term) AND the communications to back it up.

The team that won not only 1st place in the undergraduate division but ALSO was the top scoring team of undergraduates and graduates and so will represent us at APICS 2017 was Harvey Mudd College. Although I’m the chair of the competition and excited about how amazing EVERY team performed at the event, I am especially thrilled because Harvey Mudd is an APICS Inland Empire Chapter student team. CONGRATS Alexa LeJoe SinopoliShaan Gareeb and Katherine (Yoo Jeong) Shim! (And Kash Gokli, your academic advisor).

Harvey Mudd College

One tip to implement this week:

Take what these students did to heart and think about how you can continually improve your technical skills AND your communication/presentation skills. I find that my clients often think about investing in technical skills but rarely think about communication and presentation skills yet one without the other doesn’t work.

Deliberately sketch out a plan. Select 1 technical skill and 1 communication skill you’d like to improve. Even if you have a long list (we all do!), just select one in each category that you think will be especially beneficial to your career in the next year. My clients find that if they select intelligently and FOCUS in execution, they succeed. Let me know how it goes.

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…”

 



Why Looking at Return on Investment (ROI) is So Much Better than Cost

June 3rd, 2015

supply chainHow many times have you heard about managing cost (or saving money) in the past week? I bet quite a few, as almost all companies focus significant efforts on cost. In all functions, and certainly if you are in or responsible for Operations, a large portion of your responsibility is to reduce cost. Similar to real estate where it is “location, location, location”, I often hear about “cost, cost, and cost”. Certainly managing cost is vital to success; however, being solely focused on cost will drive you to failure!

Instead, I advocate thinking about return on investment. For example, if you spend $1000 instead of $100,000, yet the benefit is $1100 vs. $400,000 over the same time frame, which is better? Of course, when you spend $100,000, you quadruple your investment whereas you only gain 10% with the smaller investment. With that said, of course, it makes sense to minimize the $100,000 to $90,000 if it’s feasible so you don’t have to throw the baby out with the bathwater.

Although these numbers can be compelling, it isn’t the only reason to focus on ROI. If you are thinking only of cost, you will MISS opportunities to grow your business and innovate. Think of the “cost” in this case as an investment. Are you willing to invest in your success?

One tip to implement this week:

The great news is that no matter your position, you can start thinking about ROI. For every decision you make, consider the likely benefits and costs. Costs are not only financial; there could be hefty risks as well (with small or large investments). Most executives think this way for large capital investments; however, why don’t we think this way for the smaller decisions? We should!

It doesn’t have to be lengthy and time consuming. Just think about the benefits; ask a few questions (if you don’t know, you should find out anyway) and you’ll be much more confident that you’ll end up with a better result in the end. Those businesses that think about longer-term impacts (even if the return occurs within a quarter or year; it can seem longer-term at times) will thrive.

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…”