Tag Archive: scalable

Talent Transformation: People or Robots?

August 23rd, 2019
As much as I’m seeing last month’s feature article on the bedrock topic of inventory continuing to ring true (clients are gaining more interest in reducing inventory levels to free up cash), the promise of technology (automation and robots) is enticing many clients to at least assess what they should be doing when it comes to the topic of the talent transformation. I cannot think of a client that doesn’t have some sort of a talent gap.
It appears as though this trend is only going to gain steam as more and more clients assess automation, AI, IoT and more to keep up with customer expectations, to try to address the squeeze on costs while also dealing with the lack of employees. As baby boomers retire (which I’m seeing at an increasing pace with some TOP talent), the gap is bigger than most executives realize. It turns out not all of the key information, decision-making capabilities and leadership abilities are easily absorbed by the next generation managers without a significant effort. What is worse is that if he/she gets fed up, you might not have a lengthy transition provided by the more dedicated baby boomers.
Our APICS Inland Empire Chapter had an executive panel discussion on just this topic at our spring symposium last April. I’m especially excited the vast experience of our diverse and experienced panel:
  • Navin Shetti – Director of Engineering, Honeywell Aerospace
  • Cindy Elliott – Global Go-to-Market Strategy, Manufacturing & Logistics, ESRI
  • Paul Granillo – CEO, Inland Empire Economic Partnership
  • Jerry Hsiung – Robotics expert, Carnegie Mellon & Harvey Mudd
  • Jermaine Waltemeyer – Recruiter/ Practice lead, Aerotek
To throw out a few ideas this month, which will definitely be supplemented and expanded upon in future months…..
  • Do NOT wait too long to consider which type of technology will add value to your ability to achieve your business strategy and objectives. Although there is something to be said about an organization that can perform manually, it will not achieve scalable, profitable growth in this Amazon-impacted business environment.
  • With that said, do NOT be a blind follower of your Board’s or Executive Team’s ideas. I have heard from countless clients that they outsourced when it was popular. Some have turned out great whereas others made no sense, didn’t make money and didn’t improve service. Can you afford to make preventable mistakes in this fast-paced world? Most likely NO!
  • Appreciate your hidden talent. 80% of the time, I find hidden talent at a client. They are typically underappreciated and utilized to 20% of their potential. If you’d like help in identifying them, contact us.
  • Find your internal best practice processes. Again, I find clients under appreciate best practices of certain departments, individuals or sites and instead focus a bunch of attention on bench marking to the industry. Do you really want to be average in your industry?
Put some thought into your talent pool, where it will be in 5 or 10 years and whether you are proactively addressing your situation to create sustainable and scalable growth.


Is CRM Valuable?

July 30th, 2019

A Client Question
When clients decide to upgrade ERP, they also look at CRM (customer relationship management) because it makes sense to align the technology infrastructure into a common platform that will be fully integrated and scalable. However, what if it isn’t part of an ERP project? When does it make sense to jump into the CRM world? One client asked us just this question.

The Answer
In their case, they could achieve a powerful return on investment with CRM. It provided the tools and technology that would strengthen their relationship with their current customers, as well as help them expand sales with current customers and create a pipeline of new customers. Specifically, when meeting with customers, the sales reps gained insights into customer preferences and ways to strengthen the relationship. If they captured those ideas into CRM on the spot, the next person who interacted with that customer could see the notes and tailor the conversation. These seemingly small preferences can go a long way!

In terms of expanding business, they needed robust sales reporting that would tell them if they were falling off in a particular area or if they sold one product without its complimentary product so that the sales rep could follow up. Last but not least, they wanted a way to track potential new customers and expansions of business. For example, if a reseller was opening a new facility, they wanted to track it in CRM so that everyone had access to the timing, forecast, and other critical information. Also, since it was a collaborative sales environment, they wanted a way to track potential new customers and where they were in the sales cycle so that they could forecast future sales and the likelihood of it occurring. Sales forecasts were the 80/20 of success in this client because it was in a high growth mode where cash forecasting is of critical importance.

 A simple CRM solution fit the bill. A few years later, they were ready to upgrade their ERP infrastructure. At that time, they had the base CRM disciplines functioning and so it was an easy transition to a fully integrated system with CRM functionality. This client has been recognized multiple times for its substantial growth and success.

Food For Thought
Although CRM systems can be a great idea (as it was in our client’s case), if your sales and support teams aren’t ready to enter at least the key data, you’ve just bought an Audi that sits in your garage.

Start implementing process disciplines early. Enter information about your customers that will be handy at a later date.

Start tracking key meetings and prospects. Are you able to make good decisions from what you are tracking? If not, wait!

Aggressively push to start tracking vital information about your customers, even if you put it in Outlook or a spreadsheet to start. Soon you’ll be ready for a simple CRM solution, followed by more powerful ones as you get used to driving your car on city streets, you’ll be ready to brave the freeways.

If you are interested in running your situation by us, contact us.

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Obsession with Your Customer
A Systems Checkup


When Is It Time to Upgrade?

July 5th, 2019

A Client Question
A client didn’t feel prepared to launch into an ERP system upgrade as they had just bought the business and had invested significant funds into the transition.  Yet, this client was also starting to worry about scalability and the risk associated with old technology. After all, this old technology was directly supporting their day-to-day business and customer experience. Although the CEO was reluctant, he agreed to an assessment of his ERP system and readiness.

The Answer
In their case, they needed to upgrade to modernize their technology infrastructure and gain additional functionality that is required to support their business growth and meet current standards. However, we found a way to make small key improvements to their ancient system to support enough progress to ‘buy time’ for the teams to gain an understanding of process disciplines required to support a successful upgrade. It also gave them time to educate the workforce.

During the next year, significant efforts were made to roll out process improvements and system functionality to standardize functions such as pricing and raw material ordering. About a year into the process, we “hit a wall” in terms of the ERP capabilities with critical functionality considered a “must” in supporting the business. Thus, we were prepared to make a quick selection of an ERP system and partner and eventually gained corporate alignment to pursue the upgrade to support continued growth and profitability.

Food For Thought
We are often asked to look at ERP systems that clients think they should throw out.  It turns out that that were perfectly fine and scalable, just poorly implemented.  We usually aren’t asked to look at ERP systems on their last leg where we had to make a strong case to executives to even look at the topic. And whether a new system was needed or not, the organization might not be prepared. Determining whether there is time to prepare or whether you should follow a rapid preparation route can be tricky. There are typically risks on both sides, whether you move too slow or too fast. Take time to assess what makes sense in your case. Be careful of ‘shark’ salespeople as there are tons in this field. It is quite confusing so that even well-intentioned executives and salespeople can mislead organizations. If you are interested in running your situation by us, contact us.

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ERP Selection: Why It Has Become a Strategic Priority



What do UPS, Shamrock Foods, Amazon & a 3PL Have in Common?

March 14th, 2019

In touring multiple facilities, ranging from package shipments to cold storage food service delivery to the e-commerce behemoth to 3PL organizations, it despite the conversations that take place about labor costs and other daily concerns, the #1 concern across the board is transportation costs. The numbers support this sentiment. According to CSCMP, transportation costs are 65% of total logistics spend.

Logically, it also makes good sense. No matter your business, materials, parts sub-assemblies and/or products need to arrive at your facility. Often, especially in industries such as aerospace, the parts make multiple trips around the area (unless you are unlucky enough to require sourcing outside of your local area) for outside processing services such as anodizing and painting. Lastly, every work-in-process part or finished good must go to the next stop along the way to the customer such as a final assembly customer, your distribution center, your customer’s distribution center or the end customer. That makes for quite a lot of transportation, often involving multiple modes of transport from air freight to ocean freight to rail to trucking.

Given these alarming statistics about transportation costs, the question becomes: What can we do to proactively manage these costs as well as reduce the impact on the environment? After listening to several experts on these tours and experts from Georgia Tech, APICS (learn more about the critical importance of logistics in our APICS-IE CLTD, certified in logistics, transportation and distribution certificate program) and CSCMP SoCal (at the state of the industry event), a few ideas emerged.

  1. Collaborate with strange bedfellows:As recently published in an I’ve Been Thinking article, collaborating with strange bedfellows can achieve 1+1+1 = 25 minimally. In terms of transportation, there is no doubt maximizing the space used in your truck, container or plane is vital. Why not collaborate with another business to increase your utilization?
  2. Take the holistic or systems view: It is quite challenging to see the forest for the trees as the old slogan goes. We have all been there! I have worked with clients for extended periods of time and found myself with this same issue.  So, I have to deliberately shake it up to maintain the systems or bird’s-eye view. For example, don’t worry about saving a few pennies on a non-essential element of your transportation infrastructure when you are missing the key point that your mix of modes of operation or something like that is costing you millions.
  1. Utilize technology that focuses on the critical transportation factors: In every case (at every tour, event and in every conversation), leveraging technology where it makes sense came up. Certainly, artificial intelligence is the new craze since it has the potential to transform entire industries including logistics. However, robotics are being considered even in industries such as 3PL where they never were previously due to the nature of managing different customers and products. Of course, IoT is prevalent in the world of logistics and transportation as well as topics such as alternative fuels and automation. And what about the basics of a solid ERP system and TMS (transportation management system)? Don’t panic over the horror stories. Contact us if you want to overcome them.
  1. Be customer friendly:Interesting how often being customer friendly arises, no matter the industry or size company (small family owned to private equity backed to large complex organizations).  With rising truck rates and a shortage of drivers, if you aren’t a preferred shipper, you might just be out of luck no matter how much you spend. What does it take to be a preferred shipper? It depends on your business, carriers, locations and more. However, it starts by thinking about what is important to your carrier (not you). Are they looking for flexibility? A quick turnaround time? Fast payment? Good treatment for their drivers?

Since transportation costs are, at minimum, 65% of your total logistics spend, it requires further thought. With the vast amount of technology options available, the best approach is to start with your foundation (your ERP system) and ensure it is stable. Once you have a scalable base, find the ‘right’ technology for your situation to maximize the value of your logistics infrastructure. However, remember the 80/20 goes back to people. What are you doing to develop strategic partnerships and to ensure you are customer friendly and a preferred shipper? Given the impact, don’t leave this to chance or make assumptions. We all like to think we are preferred but what can we do to take it an extra step further?

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Systems Pragmatist

 The Sheer Relevance & Impact of Transportation (a Billion Here, a Billion There)The Resilient Supply Chain: Should We Invest in Technology?

 



Manufacturing & Supply Chain Expert, Lisa Anderson, Garners Executive Predictions for 2019: Opportunity Abounds

February 26th, 2019

CLAREMONT, CALIFORNIA, February 25, 2019 –  Manufacturing and Supply Chain Expert Lisa Anderson, MBA, CSCP, CLTD, president of LMA Consulting Group Inc. asked key business owners and executives about their predictions for the state of business in 2019. From aerospace and defense to food and beverage to building products, the perspectives may be different, but the outcome is the same: Opportunity Abounds.

“During these volatile, Amazon-impacted, ever-changing ‘new normal’ times, executives are responding in new and creative ways to proactively address business risks such as global trade tensions and cyber security concerns. They do this by maximizing vast opportunities arising from changing business conditions and embracing technology advancements,” Ms. Anderson commented. LMA Consulting Group works with clients on manufacturing strategy and end-to-end supply chain transformation that maximizes the customer experience and enables profitable, scalable, dramatic business growth.

From a focus on ever-changing customer needs and increased expectations driven by the Amazon-effect to tight labor and transportation markets and responding to rapid growth, the outlooks and attitudes are positive. LMA Consulting Group just released the findings of the executive predictions for 2019.  “Manufacturing & Supply Chain in the New Normal” can be downloaded at no charge from the LMA website.  “While we saw innovation, IoT, artificial intelligence, big data predictive analytics and additive manufacturing as game changers in 2018, companies are starting to turn these technologies into customer success stories as well as bottom line improvements. Yet, with the increased volatility, uncertainty and distraction of key talent, organizations must raise the bar and innovate to thrive in 2019.

With innovation being a key driver of success for manufacturers, Ms. Anderson recently participated in the Manufacturing Council of the Inland Empire’s Annual Manufacturing Summit where she presented innovation awards to manufacturers.  Winners included:  Ingram Micro, Process & Resource Efficiency Award; Phenix Technology, Inc, Human Capital & Talent Award; Brenner-Fiedler, Product Innovation Award and Harvey Mudd College for work with Laguna Clay Company, Innovation by Students Award.

“We predict that the successful manufacturers and distributors will put their employees first to create a customer-centric and resilient end-to-end supply chain. Opportunity abounds” she concluded.

 

About LMA Consulting Group – Lisa Anderson, MBA, CSCP, CLTD

Lisa Anderson is the founder and president of LMA Consulting Group, Inc., a consulting firm that specializes in manufacturing strategy and end-to-end supply chain transformation.  She focuses on maximizing the customer experience and enabling profitable, scalable, dramatic business growth. Ms. Anderson has been named a Top 40 B2B Tech Influencer by arketi group, a 50 ERP Influencer by Washington-Frank, ranked in the top 46 most influential in Supply Chain by SAP and named a top woman influencer by Solutions Review. She recently published, I’ve Been Thinking, an inspiring collection of 101 strategies for creating bold customer promises and profits. A regular content contributor on topics including providing a superior customer experience with SIOP, advancing innovation and making the supply chain resilient, Ms. Anderson is regularly interviewed and quoted by publications such as Industry Week, tED magazine and the Wall Street Journal.  For information, to sign up for her Profit Through PeopleTM Newsletter or for a copy of her book, visit LMA-ConsultingGroup.com.
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