Tag Archive: suppliers

Hurricane Dorian & Your Supply Chain

October 13th, 2019

 

Hurricane Dorian certainly took over the news as it threatened devastation. I’ve included YouTube from USA Today of the storm. People were evacuating up and down the east coast. Although the impact on people’s lives is certainly more important, there is a dramatic impact on businesses, as well. As logical as it sounds for east coast manufacturers, distributors and other businesses to be impacted while preparations are underway and the storm passes, it also had a profound impact on customers, suppliers and their extended supply chains. Are you prepared to navigate these types of disruptions?

What Should We Consider and/or What Impacts Could Arise?When I was VP of Operations and Supply Chain for a mid-market manufacturer, a hurricane devastated Greenville, North Carolina, the location of our largest manufacturing facility. Luckily, since the facility used to be owned by P&G, they evaluated risks as a normal course of operations and the facility was on high ground and not affected.  Yet, the facility was closed and nothing could get in or out. That situation alone proved the importance of thinking ahead to key risks, managing proactively and creating a resilient supply chain.

An east coast issue is no longer an east coast issue. For example:

  • Do you use the same carriers that might be tied up on the east coast?
  • Are your servers on the east coast?
  • Do you have any suppliers or customers on the east coast?
  • Do you have suppliers who supply other customers on the east coast? Or do your customers have other suppliers or customers on the east coast? Most likely YES!

The bottom line is 80% of my clients are impacted directly (suppliers, customers, transportation partners) and 100% are impacted through their extended supply chain. At a minimum, don’t wait to think about disruptions until they are imminent. Build agility, flexibility and resilience in your business as well as within your extended supply chain. If there ever was a topic related to the resilient supply chain, this would be it! We have recently upgraded and added content to our resilient supply chain series.



The Beauty of the World & Why It Relates to Work

June 5th, 2019

This is the Piazza IX Aprile in Taormina, Sicily, which is a square known for the breathtaking view of the azure Ionian Sea and of the Mount Etna. I adored this night view from a nearby rooftop (of course while sipping limoncello, an Italian lemon liquor known in Southern Italy).

I came to Sicily to meet my strategy group.  We had some excellent sessions.  However, that isn’t the tie that I refer to in the title of this blog. Seeing the world absolutely relates to business. Of course, this would be done ideally in person but you can also absorb quite a bit watching TV or by reading magazines. Understanding different cultures, business customs and what’s relevant to a country or area will come in handy. We live in an interconnected world with customers, suppliers and other trusted partners throughout the world. I cannot think of a client that doesn’t have a material that originates in another country somewhere down-the-supply chain or one that sells to other countries at least somewhere up-the-supply chain. Can you?

Understanding what is important to your customers, suppliers, employees (as they also come from around the world or have related interests) or colleagues is quite relevant to bottom line business results.

One tip to implement this week:
Why not ask your top customer, supplier, employee or colleague about what is important? You could ask about materials relevant to your supply base. Undoubtedly, you’ll find out about something relevant or interesting to build a stronger relationship at a minimum. You could ask your customers about where they sell your product or how it is perceived in another country, etc.? Of course, your question will relate to what type of product or service you provide, so you should make it relevant to your business.

And, lastly, why not talk bring the topic up with your employees and colleagues. You might find that they have customs that are important to them or something quite relevant to doing business in that country or area. Just by posting pictures on Facebook, I found quite a few contacts who love Taormina. Who knows what will happen when I ask them about it!



Walmart & Costco Moving Towards Farmer-to-Shopping Cart Strategies

May 1st, 2019

 

Walmart & Costco Moving Towards Farmer-to-Shopping Cart Strategies

The squeeze continues. During my Aerospace & Defense speech recently on the Resilient Supply Chain, the concept of vertical integration arose as Boeing and Airbus are expanding and squeezing the middle in a noteworthy fashion. Similarly, according to Journal Star Walmart and Costco are moving to eliminate the middle man by moving towards farmer-to-shopping cart strategies.

Walmart started bottling milk in its new Indiana facility. This move eliminated Dean Foods and their 100 dairy farmers and replaced them with 30 farmers and cooperatives. Walmart is controlling the entire supply chain from farm to shopping cart including transportation, a vertical integration strategy rarely seen to this extent and scale in agriculture. Similarly, Costco established a chicken farm to grow, slaughter and distribute chickens in Nebraska, eliminating suppliers like Tyson Foods and Pilgrim’s Pride. Both of these initiatives could create significant disruption as well as opportunity.

Are you staying comfortable, waiting to be disrupted or taking the proactive approach to create disruption?

What Should We Consider and/or What Impacts Could Arise?

Getting to the top and/or to a comfortable position and riding the wave isn’t a viable strategy if you wish to be around for the long-term. Stay up-to-speed on what is going on with your industry, competitors, customers, suppliers, region and more. Don’t hide your head in the sand. Instead, choose to take the realistic yet optimistic view and turn it into reality.

In addition, start looking at how to build an agile and resilient end-to-end supply chain. There is no telling when your supply chain might be squeezed or something will change. The more agile and resilient you become, the more successful you’ll be! If you’d like some tips for managing disruption, take a look at our resilient supply chain series.



The Resilient Supply Chain: Cross-Organizational Collaboration

January 4th, 2019

I’ve been coordinating a process involving several disparate players, ranging from multiple educational institutions who are not aligned with one another, government players (with many differing goals) and business partners (with a completely different set of needs).  Although there are others, these 3 core groups are more than enough!

Success will only come to those who find common ground with collaboration.  If collaboration was as easy as simple communication, everyone would do it. We would probably have a lot more happy customers and more profits to share with investors, employees and for reinvestment and giving back.

What should we think about if this is the outcome we wish to create?

  1.  Look for the win-win-win –  If someone wins and someone else loses, it isn’t a successful collaboration.  If you think hard enough, there is usually a way to turn a situation into more of a win-win-win with some shared give-and-take.
  2.  Think about positioning –  If your idea is presented in isolation, it has a much greater chance at failing than if it is presented in light of the bigger picture. Why is it important?  How can each person play a role? Does each person know how he/she fits in and provides value?
  3.  Value diversity – Each time I think “I don’t want to be on this person’s team because he/she is annoying or won’t add value”, I find that I am completely wrong (luckily these are just thoughts, not actions).  The best ideas come from the most unlikely places.  And, interesting suggestions that can lead to “big” ideas typically come from someone who is quite opposite and thinking about the situation from a different perspective.
  4.  Recognize progress of the team –  Who doesn’t want to be recognized with a pat on the back as progress is made?  The key to collaboration is not to say positive things about collaboration and then reward individual performance.  Instead, reward team progress, even if that progress is simply gaining an understanding of how much they do not agree with each other yet are willing to listen.  
  5.  Consensus isn’t needed – As much as collaboration can achieve dramatically better results than each superhero individual thinking on his/her own, consensus is overrated.  Set the expectations upfront of how collaboration works. Feedback and input is expected. Discussion and debate participation is mandatory. But consensus isn’t required for every decision.  Otherwise, you might get there eventually but your competition will be LONG gone. More importantly, determine how to collaborate and make decisions upfront.decisions

The importance of collaboration comes up more frequently than almost any other topic.  Since executives are collaborating with customers, suppliers, trusted advisors, other supply chain partners and even competitors, there is just no room for poor collaborators.  

If you’ll notice, many disruptors collaborate with strange partners. Perhaps this core skill is a key ingredient to success…. Or, think of it another way, how will anything get done without it?

 



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!