Tag Archive: scalable

When is it the ‘Right’ Time for a Supply Chain Network Assessment?

September 4th, 2018

Supply Chain networks that are not set up to support scalable, profitable growth have a high likelihood of negatively impacting your customers, impeding your growth and consuming far more resources than they were ever imagined to sustain.  What is ideally mapped out one year is likely to change the next in today’s Amazonian marketplace. Thus, assessing your supply chain network from your suppliers’ suppliers through your manufacturing and logistics networks to your customers’ customers with an eye to customers, cost and cash will undoubtedly yield results.  

What are some hints to know when it’s the ‘right’ time?

  1.  Renew your lease, buy or move? – As your lease comes due, it is a natural time to re-evaluate your supply chain network to make sure you are positioned ideally to support your customer base at maximum value for your customers and your organization.
  2.  Cost considerations – As you think about how to reduce your cost base, re-evaluating your supply chain network is a ‘must’.  Most likely, you can save a few pennies here or there.  But, for substantial savings, you may need to review your infrastructure.
  3.  Customer demands – In today’s Amazonian environment, customer demands are ever-increasing.  Is your supply chain network positioned to support your customers’ needs, delivery points and sales growth expectations?
  4.  Space constraints – As you start to think about space, it might be an opportune time to re-evaluate your supply chain network.  First, do you know how much space is needed to support your growth plans (and where)? Do you have the opportunity to maximize space?  Or should you re-position?
  5.  Insourcing/ outsourcing– As you think about whether you should insource, outsource (ex. 3PL) or utilize a combination of both, it is definitely an opportune time to evaluate your supply chain network and logistics infrastructure.
  6.  Supply chain partners – If you are re-evaluating key supply chain partners, it is likely a good time to do a quick assessment of your supply chain network.   

We have found that a supply chain network assessment can be valuable even if you decide not to change a thing.  Performing a quick review of customers, suppliers, operations and logistics infrastructure from a customer, cost and cash flow viewpoint can provide substantial benefit every so often.  Contact us if you’d like to talk further.



What’s Next in the Supply Chain?

August 10th, 2018

Our most successful clients always ask “What’s next?” as they want to stay ahead of the curve.  It is quite clear that staying on top of current trends and what is expected down-the-road is essential to successfully navigating your business to scalable, profitable growth.

For example, if you think your industry might develop a new way of servicing customers, you need to attack it quickly as you afford to be left in the dust.  Clearly, providing an exceptional customer experience is important but so is developing this new service method in a scalable, profitable way. It will be much harder if behind the eight ball. Are you thinking about what is next?

With our definition of the supply chain from creation to customer, there are countless topics to be thinking about when it comes to What’s Next:

  • New Products and Services: What new products and services will your customers want?  We have found that most customers (just like most of our clients) might not know yet.  You better be thinking about it and prompting ideas!
  • Suppliers: What new materials, components and supplies will you need to improve performance at a lower cost? (These win-win successes require innovation and collaboration.)
  • Transportation: What’s next in transportation?  Think of the relevance – from suppliers to manufacturers, from manufacturers to manufacturers, from manufacturers to distributors, from distributors to end customers, from one facility to another facility, and so on.
  • Technology:  What’s next in technology as it connects each of these people along with equipment, and much more (think IoT) with data and information flows.  We find that this often-times can be the bottleneck to achieving scalability.
  • Manufacturing:  What’s next in manufacturing?  Even if you aren’t thinking about using 3D printing, you should be considering the impacts if your competition, your suppliers, your customers and more start using this additive manufacturing capability.  It is likely to impact every step of the supply chain. What else is likely to happen in your industry?
  • Distribution:  What’s next in distribution?  In your industry, what is essential?  To think about distribution, you must think about your customers’ needs.  You also should be thinking about the rest of your supply chain. For example, if 3D printing takes off, it changes the distribution model.  If e-commerce continues to be important, your entire setup would change if you are more traditional currently. Do customers want you to take over worrying about what to stock and where to stock it?  Perhaps you should suggest taking on VMI/ replenishment.
  • Customers: What’s next with your customers?  How about your customers’ customers? Are you even talking with your customers’ customers?  Do you understand the industry trends throughout your chain? If you aren’t getting out of your office with an internal focus, you won’t.  Who have you called lately? Who have you visited? Do you ask questions? Attend conferences?
  • People:  What’s next with your colleagues and partners?   Nothing else will be achievable if you don’t have the best people on the team.  It wasn’t that long ago we thought virtual meetings were a big deal. Now they occur daily.  (Remember, illennials often-times like coming into the office for the community – and prefer the Google-like environment.)

Thinking about what’s next can distinguish you from your competition.  Eventually, a decision will arise that requires this knowledge. If thinking of the future is part of your daily culture, you’ll pass by the rest!

 



Manufacturing & California are on Fire!

August 1st, 2018

According to Industry Week and the National Association of Manufacturers, manufacturing is on fire!  

Manufacturers’ optimism registered 95.1% – the highest level EVER recorded! Manufacturers are projecting historic growth in investments (4.1%), hiring (3.1%) and wages (2.7%).  Projected wage growth is the fastest in 17 years.

The bottom line – manufacturing is on fire!

 

 

 

 

 

Now to turn general perceptions on its head, Industry Week did a study of the top states for manufacturing jobs and California was #1! Clearly, this was accomplished in a state that doesn’t favor manufacturing jobs (even though they pay well).  Manufacturing accounts for 11% of the total output of the state, and the state is larger than all but 5 countries (if it were a country). Why aren’t we singing this from the rooftops?!? Are you thinking of ways to leverage this advantage?

What Should We Consider and/or What Impacts Could Arise?
It is our passion that not only is Southern CA #1 in terms of manufacturing but it is “THE place to be”!  You are probably wondering if I had too many Mai Tai’s in Hawaii. Yet, there is a compelling story behind this passion:

  • Customers and consumers –  Southern California is the epicenter of manufacturing and can supply consumers and customers of what would be the 5th largest country in the world same-day
  • Mass customization – The ability to meet changing customer expectations rapidly and customized on the fly
  • More than 40% of imports come in through the Los Angeles ports – Many of these are raw materials and components to supply manufacturers
  • Access to a significant talent pool in Southern California
  • Access to high tech, automation, robotics and more
  • Access to logistics networks
  • Additive manufacturing changes the game
  • Innovation is prevalent – just to overcome the environmental standards, we have to be better!  Imagine if we can get some help with our laws….
  • With wages increasing in Asia, freight costs going up and customers demanding immediate deliveries and frequent changes, manufacturers are seriously considering bringing non-commodity manufacturing back to the U.S.  Why not Southern CA?

Think about how to leverage this massive opportunity and blaze a trail.  If you’d like to strategize with us about how to achieve scalable, profitable growth and maximize your manufacturing power, contact us.

 



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.

 



Boston & Expanding Your Thinking

May 17th, 2018

I've Been Thinking

Last week, I spent a few days in Boston at a consulting convention to expand my thinking on consulting so that I can continually provide more value to clients (which is always spurred on by seeing new scenery like the Boston sites below).  

While at the convention, my business partner and I also launched our newly upgraded and expanded value of our new venture, the Society for the Advancement of Consulting that provides value to consultants and entrepreneurs.  When I agreed to take this role on, I had no idea the value it would bring to my consulting practice with expanded thinking.   

 

 

 

 

 

We have not only strategized on growth strategies which are quite applicable for my clients but we have also expanded our horizons in building a scalable, profitable, lean infrastructure so that the 80/20 of the processes will be seamlessly sustainable once the foundation is put in place.   We have also combined different strengths quite productively for win-win results. I’m looking forward to applying these additional ideas and principles with my clients as the appropriate situations arise!

One tip to implement this week:
Have you thought about how to expand your thinking?  A first good step would be to take a step back and think about ways to expand your thinking.  It is quite easy to get stuck inside your current reality. Consider some ways to deliberately push the envelope.

For example, should you invite someone who is quite different from you to brainstorm?  I have gained some interesting and unexpected insights by partnering with someone new.

Should you attend a different event you wouldn’t typically attend and deliberately set out to meet a few new people and ask them about a trending topic?  Since I was in the limelight explaining this newly enhanced consulting society, I met many people I wouldn’t have met otherwise.

Can you ask your customers and suppliers for ideas? How about trade associations? After all, that is part of the point of this consulting society within our particular field.  What about you?