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I interviewed Mortadha Jouini who discussed Order Management Systems.







An order-management system is a software application that manages sales-order processing. It writes the application on the * (00:13—unclear). It typically manages processes that involve customer-created validation, pricing, promotions. It gives visibility in one location, involves generation, the history of sales of the customers, and it can be deployed as part of an enterprise versus planning because it’s integrated to the company’s inventory system, through the procurement and financial accounting system, and to the warehousing system. An OMS is an IT software applied on supply chain, and it combines the purchasing, the warehousing, and the RP levels.


About the inventory visibility, unless it’s connected to the shops, to the warehouses, so it’s real-time with the status of the inventory and it gives visibility to people who buy from the Internet, to people who work in the warehouses, and to shop holders. Practically, an OMS is middleware between front office whether it is in business, Internet sales, Sales points, call centers, mobile applications, and the warehousing and the providers’ level. It sends the status of the stock to the front office and receives responses from the front office. On the other side, it’s connected to the warehouse, to the shops, to the providers, to the central purchasing bodies, and the interactions will be mainly the stock status coming to the OMS from warehouses or sent to the users, the buyers or storekeepers. It will be receiving order preparations after any purchasing order is completed. Practically, An OMS it gives the possibility to have an overall and global visibility of the stock, to have a centralization of the orders, with a cross-* (2:52—unclear) order management added to the reliability of the information, which will guarantee an optimization of the supply chain.


How is an OMS executed?


To explain how it’s executed, I can talk about its architecture. Technically, it’s base  on SOA (Service Oriented Architecture), which means service-oriented architecture, which gives the possibility to have unique and central application for the Web, for the supply chain, and for the selling points.


Practically, buyers, they go to the shop or e-business, the Web site, for buying an item. Thanks to the OMS, they have visibility of the available stock, where they can take it from—the shop or to wait to be shipped to their address. The OMS permits, thanks to its algorithms, to have the most optimized path of sale.


Thanks for sharing your views on order-management systems today.


Available to promise. An OMS allows the calculation and referencing of the data availability of the stock of what the customer ordered at the same time of the order. It provides the buyer with the produce availability of the order time, taking into consideration the Treatment regimen of ordering products, depending on the configured rules of the purchase. For example, delivery method, The Split the command method, or the purchase deadline specified by the customer. It permits to have detailed delivery and payment history of transactions. It gives the people working in the shops the possibility to check the transaction search, the history of sales. It can help, also, the management of returns and exchanges and, of course, the order capture by providing customers with the options to purchase Items to be picked up at their local store.


With the new model of business, I believe that order-management systems will have a very big strategic potential, especially that it gives the possibility to save sales. For example, if you go to a Dolce & Gabbana shop to buy some clothes, trousers, you say, “Can I have this model?” If the guy working in the shop doesn’t have the model physically at that time, he can tell you you can order it, they can send it to your home, or he can send you to another shop for the simple reason that, thanks to the OMS, you have global visibility of the stock. And thanks to the available to promise, he can know when the produce can be available. In addition to this, I think the possibility to have the middleware centralizing all the information from warehousing people, transportation-management system people, and the people who sell, it can be very efficient for business.





About Mortadha Jouini



Mortadha Jouini

Supply Chain Consultant chez Capgemini

LinkedIn Profile

I interviewed Mark Trowbridge who discussed The Evolution of a Marketplace – Trends Around the World.






How are procurement groups operating internationally?


A number of trends in the global marketplace. One of those is that the two primary, leading outsourcing countries—China and India—both are reaching some challenges that are perhaps going to change the direction of their value to the global procurement community.


The nation of India has, for a long time, been a leader in the outsourcing of labor-based services, such as call-center operations, computer programming, information technology, offshoring. The nation of India is running into problems and constraints with the nation’s infrastructure. It’s trucking and shipping infrastructure, as well as things like telecommunications infrastructure, data-networking infrastructure, those types of things are restraining the ability of leading firms to expand their India Operations.


There are clearly pockets of expertise and development in India, but there are also a lot of variants where the nationwide infrastructure is reaching some limits, which are constraining the ability of suppliers there. Historically, infrastructure constraints have constrained India from being a primary outsourcing location for manufacturing and have been really leading it more in the direction of Web-based services and other services that don’t rely as much on that same type of national infrastructure.


And the country of China, is experiencing labor shortages, some of those being brought about by the long-time effects of the one-child policy, (which is being revisited), but also because of the increasing need and demand for skilled labor along the Eastern seaboard in key cities like Beijing, Shanghai and Guangzhou, where it is becoming more and more difficult for manufacturing employers to find skilled workers at the same labor rates. Thus, the cost of labor has been increasing at a fairly dramatic level.


These sets of challenges for these two countries are now driving many global buyers to look elsewhere for low-cost resources; such as labor, manufacturing capabilities, et cetera. We’re seeing a lot of movement or redefinition of what a low-cost country is, now including areas like Vietnam or Indonesia or Malaysia, and moving some of those volumes away from China or India. These are some large-scale changes we’re seeing.


Can you talk about the mature marketplaces, what’s happening in those markets?


Sure. At the opposite end of the spectrum from the low-cost country regions of the world are the more mature marketplaces, especially in Europe and in the United States. Many of those marketplaces are beginning to undergo changes and challenges from the firms that are operating here. Typically, higher governmental taxation, grater sets of regulations, and constraints on their operations are making it more difficult for small- and entry-level suppliers to enter different market channels. We’re seeing a lot of consolidation through mergers and acquisitions of organizations and combinations of firms that used to compete against each other.


A classic example of a competitive marketplace was in the United States where, going back seven or eight years, we had five major players in the office-products industry. We had Corporate Express, we had Boise Cascade, Office Depot, Office Max, and we had Staples. Those have now all been consolidated through different mergers and acquisitions to the point where we have Office Depot and Staples controlling somewhere around 48 percent of the total office-supply sales in the country. And Staples is currently in merger discussion with the US Government's anti-trust officials to buy Office Depot!, which would leave one remaining industry leader.


We also have up-and-comers coming on, like the Walmarts and the Costcos that are beginning to play a major role in that sector. We always have a resurgence of some of these standalone office-supply dealers, but the marketplace is changing greatly. It’s just interesting to see what’s taking place there.


There’s a quote that I like from billionaire Warren Buffet, who once said, as he talked about the evolution of the marketplace, he used the three I’s. He said, “First come the innovators, then come the imitators, and then come the idiots.” There’s some truth in what he says.


An example of this trend was IBM, which was one of the innovators in the PC industry. A decade ago, the CEO of IBM announced that IBM was an "innovative company" and PCs were becoming a "commodity", so they were going to exit out of that particular industry and they sold off their PC division to a very well-established firm, which is Lenovo. IBM got out of that industry because that’s not where they wanted to position themselves.


What’s interesting is, we see similar types of trends taking place in many different segments, like information technology, where innovative firms come up with innovative solutions, software products, or hardware products, But then they eventually get bought out by larger firms and the unique, innovative nature of their products starts to disappear as they get morphed into the standard product lines that the larger firm is producing.


Just interesting to see what is taking place in different regions of the world. Today’s procurement professional really has to be sophisticated as they choose different strategies to work in different market segments around the world.







About Mark Trowbridge

Mark Trowbridge, CPSM, C.P.M, MCIPS has worked in procurement leadership roles for nearly 30 years.  His corporate career began as a Buyer for the third-largest global builder of pleasure yachts and continued with roles at Delta Airlines, the world’s largest airline and then through a series of financial services enterprises.  His final corporate position led three-quarters of strategic sourcing and all contracts management for Bank of America, one of the world’s largest financial services enterprises.  During his final two years with that company, Mark’s areas of responsibility generated more than a Quarter Billion Dollars in cost benefits for the enterprise’s global operations.


Mark’s career progressed as he entered the consulting arena, with roles in two SCM consultancies before co-founding Strategic Procurement Solutions, LLC ( in 1999.


During subsequent years, his firm has been privileged to work with many client organizations, including Apple, BP, Intel, Delphi, Kraft Foods, Excellus Health Plan, Allstate, Nationwide, Johnson & Johnson, Colgate-Palmolive, Intermountain Healthcare, State of Oregon, Oceaneering, Volvo North America, American Family Insurance, PacifiCare Health, State of Colorado, State of Massachusetts, Newmont Mining, MetLife, Constellation Energy,  Secure Horizons, SanDisk, Vision Service Plan, Adobe Systems, Sybase, Cooper Tire & Rubber, State of Maryland, Limited Brands, State of Minnesota, Sterling Jewelers, HollyFrontier, Canadian Ministry of Health, etc.


Mr. Trowbridge trains corporate, governmental, and conference audiences around the world on many SCM topics.  His business travels have taken him throughout North America, Europe, Asia and the Middle East.  His is among LinkedIn’s Top 1% Most Viewed Profiles.


He frequently authors article about supply chain management principles, with featured articles appearing in publications like Supply Chain Management Review, Inside Supply Management, eSide Supply Management, and Strategic Procurement Solutions’ own Best Practices in Supply Management Journal which is distributed bi-monthly to more than 13 Thousand procurement leaders around the world.






About Mark Trowbridge




Mark Trowbridge

Principal at Strategic Procurement Solutions, LLC

LinkedIn Profile

I interviewed Rebecca Sharon (Neuman) Hartley who discussed Stress Management Techniques Purchasing Professionals Can Use.







It’s good to speak to you again, Rebecca. This is an interesting topic. I’m looking forward to hearing your views today regarding stress management, which is relevant to supply chain and procurement professionals, as well as any kind of professional these days. My first question is: Can you explain what stress and stress management are?


Sure. Stress is something that is any kind of stress, not a specific response to the body, any demand placed upon the body is a stress. That automatically triggers some of our primitive reactionary modes, which is the fight-or-flight response. We’re either ready to fight for our lives to survive or run away in order to save our lives.


Now that we don’t really have that major conflict, we still have that same symptom inside of us, which a lot of people feel as anxiety or panic attacks, or they might even think they’re having a heart attack because their heart rate goes up, they start sweating, sweating from the tops of their heads, their hands get all sweaty. Unfortunately, that’s right when your boss is talking to you about the status of your report. It’s not like you can just walk away; you have to address it and confront it.


What I would suggest when you’re in a stressful situation like that—I’m going to give you a few tips. One is called distraction. To distract yourself, sometimes what we can do is try to focus in on what he’s saying and block everything out. It’s kind of hard to do, so you use a breathing technique.

It’s just a matter of making sure you’re breathing in through your nose and then releasing out, slowly. Releasing all the air out so you have to breathe. What happens is, when you’re having an anxiety attack, you’re not breathing. I found with a couple of my students—because I’m a yoga teacher now—when I see my students, they’re suddenly getting all panicky and stuff because they’re in a difficult position, they’re holding some sort of muscular position. I’m like, “Are you breathing?”


It seems so simple, but it’s true. Check yourself. Are you breathing right now? Are you holding your breath? That’s something very simple they can do. Just do a quick check on your body, and make sure you’re breathing properly. That’s one of the first things you can do to cope with a very stressful situation that you feel you might be having a heart attack.


Now, the next thing to do with distraction is to use music or a trip to the bathroom is one I always do. If my boss is there and I’m like, Oh my God and I’m waiting on a phone call and all these things are going on before I can give him an answer, they don’t care about that; just want that answer. What you can do is say, “Can you excuse me for a moment? I have to go to the washroom.”


You go to the washroom, sit in your stall, and you just sit there and relax for a moment. Basically, all you needed to do was get away from that intense moment, gather yourself, catch your breath, relax. You’re inside of a stall; nobody can see what you’re doing in there.


I would suggest doing some deep-breathing techniques, where you would just breathe in through your nostrils for three seconds and then breathe out for six seconds through your nostrils. If it’s hard to breathe through your nose, you can do it through your mouth as well. Just take a deep breath, hold it in for, like, three seconds, and then blow it out for six seconds. That’s one really good way to do it.


The other thing I do sometimes is, I have an aromatherapy technique I use, where I just put a little bit of a scent, like lavender, under my nose. It instantly puts me in a good mood. Talk about instant relief; it’s seriously good stuff. There might be something you really enjoy the scent of.


What I’m finding with a lot of my students is that all of our senses are not really reaching properly these days, and I think it’s because there’s a lot of tension, radiation, all these kinds of pollutants in the environment that we might not be sure we’re actually being affected by it, but we are.


Cell phone use, it’s very dangerous to hold by your ear all the time. And what about cancer and all these kinds of things that are starting to show up more and more as years go on with all these new uses of technology? A lot of people say, to get some special headphones that have graphite around the inner rings of the headphones, and keep that cell phone away from your body. Keep it away. Use those functions where you can use hands-free apparitions. We might not realize it, but we’re on the phone too much; really, we are.


And also, with looking at the TV screen all the time—monitors, laptops. All of them have gotten better, but still. Take time to have your hands warm by using water, putting some nice, warm water on your hands. What you can do is take your hands when they’re drying off and—it’s called palming—you put your hands over your eyes for a few moments, and you try to just see blackness.


Try to use blackness for about three minutes, and try not to think of anything. Just see blackness. Use the breathing techniques and try to relax. Take your hands down, put them on your lap, your eyes closed, and just breathe in and relax. I guarantee, within five minutes, you’ll return back to you normal self. All those things will come back to you that you had to tell your boss about, and now you can react in a calm manner and be more successful at work and a healthier person, indeed.


Do you have any examples of how this is relevant for purchasing professionals?


I think that everybody has the same kind of stressors. We’re always under the gun to get the right price or sometimes through tough negotiations. I find a lot of times, we’ll get into a stalemate because I’m not going to budge on something and neither is the supplier. That’s one of those times you take a break in a negotiation and perhaps practice that coping technique.


When you’re in a negotiation and it’s getting very successful, you might damage a really good relationship or you might lose out on a really good deal. You always have to be really calm in your negotiations because it’ll give you the upper hand too. That’s a good time, when everybody’s too stressed out in a negotiation meeting, take a quick break, go to the washroom, try those techniques, and relax.


Don’t get up from a phone to call a bunch of other people. That is your client time to get your thoughts together, be calm, and come back. I swear you’ll get what you’re after.


Can you provide a brief background of yourself? Do you have any experiences you can share from your work experience in purchasing and procurement?


Sure I can. I had a lot of trouble when I first started out. I was in a business that was an incineration business, which was not exactly, I’d say, a safe place to be. We were dealing with all kinds of environmental issues that could’ve been dangerous to someone’s life. That made my purchasing job—say if I bought the wrong stuff and just blew up in a hospital. That would be a real bummer.


I took my job so seriously that I put myself under a considerable amount of stress, and it really didn’t have to be that bad. It’s good to make sure you’re doing your job properly, but you also want to be able to, especially when you’re young and eager to prove yourself, take a step back for a moment because when you try too hard, that’s when that stress comes too. There’s good stress and bad stress, but when you put it on yourself because you have this self-responsibility, well, there’s another self-responsibility inside of us to take better care of ourselves.


The competition is always so strong in our culture that we really have to think about the other person sometimes. Put ourselves in the other person’s shoes, and I swear you will be a better person for it. We’re all living in this world together. If we all start acting more responsibility and less in a competitive mode all the time, we’ll be more at peace with ourselves and will be able to handle ourselves better.


Thank you for sharing today.


Thank you. My background as a yoga teacher, it’s Hatha yoga that I learned how to do that taught me so much. I’m so grateful to my teacher from India. Poonam Gupta had taught me so from a different perspective. We had to look outside of my own American culture and look through her eyes from India at what I was doing. I swear, it was the biggest eye opener I’ve ever seen in my life. I still use all the techniques from purchasing that I used as a CPM, and now I fix myself form the inside out, and I can help people even more now that I have this information.


I hope this can help the supply chain and procurement professional community for this blog. Hopefully this will help some people.


I hope so too. Everybody, be well!








About Rebecca Sharon (Neuman) Hartley, C.P.M.

Email: shy

Tel: 630-791-8107 or Skype sheshy111



Rebecca Sharon (Neuman) Hartley

Purchasing Manager


LinkedIn Profile

I interviewed Danny Bloem who discussed Why North-American Companies Have a Higher Need for Inventory Management Software.







The first question I was thinking of when we had this topic was: First, can you describe what inventory-management software is?

Sure, thanks for having me here, Dustin. Inventory-management software is typically a combination between forecasting and replenishment. By building a forecast based on historical data, allowing input from planners, sales, any promotions, you go back to replenishing your warehouses and fill in the pipeline of your supply chain. That’s inventory management.


I see a bigger need in North America for having that software. I’ve got about three reasons for that. First one being I think North American markets are typically bigger. I see companies here are bigger than back in Europe. By “bigger,” I don’t necessarily mean amount of inventory they have, but just the geographical size of markets. In Europe you see companies, even though the European Union is there, companies tend to stick to their own region or country, whereas here, companies expand over the whole North America, at least to a more complex supply chain when, already internally, they’re more complex. It gives the need for having better forecasting at a branch or regional level. I think the proper replenishment parameters in place benefit those companies here way more than back in Europe. That’s my first reason I’ve got for that.


Furthermore, I see that there is actually a much higher emphasis on good education here in North America. People take more pride in having an M.B.A. or master’s or any graduate degree or having done APIX education; that’s very good, very positive for a market. However, you can have your driver’s license, but if you don’t have a car, you’re not going to get anywhere. In order to use that better education, to have those higher-educated people, you need good software that can support their knowledge. The knowledge level here is good—better than Europe—but without the proper tooling, you’re not going to get any further than the level you currently have.


The third reason I see why companies need inventory-management software is that there’s a higher turnover of people. In Europe we’re pretty left governments, socialists, it’s difficult to let people go, people don’t leave companies as soon. Here, I see there’s a much higher turnover of employees. Businesses are tougher on their people, but that also means you need a stable workflow that’s reproducible. You need to * (3:45—unclear) in software, in your processes. I see you do your inventory-management planning in Excel; that’s just not reproducible and could lead to brig trouble when somebody’s leaving or you’re letting them go. That’s a big risk for companies, and I think that’s a very good reason to get dedicated software that has reproducible working methods…unlike Excel, which doesn’t have that.


Is there anything unique in North America about implementing inventory-management software?


Compared to my experience in Europe—I’ve been working in Europe for a year, and I’m currently residing in Toronto since half a year—I see companies are more demanding of doing implementations. They’re more demanding of the consultants, but there’s not a big difference on that side. Technically, there’s no difference at all.


Can you talk about where you’ve seen some success?


Are you talking about specifically a company, calling out a company name, or…?


Not necessarily a name, but success in North America, for North American companies.


Definitely. I’m currently doing an implementation in automotive companies. There are a lot of benefits. Typically, working with inventory-dedicated software is way faster than working with Excel; you get a lot of efficiency gains. Our software, Slim4, is designed to work on the basis of management by exception, meaning that planners get a lot more time to spend on articles that actually need attention instead of going through a large list of articles and just finding out where the discrepancies are in their forecasting. Software will help them do that so they can actually spend their time, their knowledge, use their experience instead of just looking for those discrepancies, because that’s something a system can take over really easily. I think there’s huge success in that.


There are inventory-management tools, like ours, that have better forecasting, they have more advanced algorithms. That’s already a big win, but I think the biggest win is allowing the time for planners to spend on their forecasting.


Thanks, Danny. Can you also provide a brief background of yourself?


Sure. My name is Danny Bloem. I’m an implementation consultant for Slimstock. Slimstock is the European market leader when it comes to inventory-management software. I’ve been working there for one and a half years now. I’ve got a master’s of science in supply chain management from a university in Amsterdam. I was working in the Netherlands for about a year.


I currently live in Toronto, Canada. I’m doing a lot of implementations in North America now. So far, it’s been a lot of fun. It’s a bit of a different market, it’s more challenging, and it’s a fun continent to live on.


Thank you, Danny, for sharing today.


No problem, Dustin.





About Danny Bloem



Danny Bloem


LinkedIn Profile

I interviewed Bronwen Hann who discussed The Rise of the Contingent and Contract Work Force in Supply Chain.







It’s good to speak with you again, Bronwen. I’m looking forward today to hearing your views on the rise of the contingent and contract workforce in supply chain.


Yes, nice to speak to you again, Dustin. For those listeners who didn’t hear our previous interview, I’m a recruiter with more than 30 years’ experience in staffing. I’m the president of Argentus Supply Chain Recruiting, a complete recruitment firm that’s been servicing the very specifics supply chain’s talent factors exclusively for 14 years.


The last time we spoke, I was talking to you about the supply chain talent deficit. In that discussion, just as an overview, I talked about how, in Canada, for example, the Canadian Supply Chain Sector Council estimates that supply chain will have approximately 80,000 vacant jobs a year going forward. This is not something that is strictly a Canadian problem; it’s something that’s happening on a global basis.


The reason why that’s something of a concern is that, on the senior end, baby boomers are now starting to retire. In the next 7 to 10 years, baby boomers are going to be starting to retire en masse, and there’s a lot of skill leaving the market. There aren’t enough people at the young end learning about what supply chain is and moving into supply chain as a career choice. That’s what I was talking mainly about last time we spoke. Now, partially in response to this, companies have more and more been turning to a contingent rather than a permanent-hiring model or having a contingent-hiring model to augment their permanent-hiring model to deal with a real shortage of really good staff and for this talent shortage contingence.


Contingent staffing has been the norm in IT and engineering for 20 years. It’s very common for companies to actually never hire on a permanent basis for IT and engineering and only bring in staff on a contingent basis. What I’ve seen in the past 36 to 48 months is that companies are now really looking at other ways of how they can utilize contingent staffing for other areas, especially which are in very high demand. They’re now hiring individuals on contract for supply chain functions like demand and supply planning, management, very senior-level procurement, and strategic sourcing, all the way up to very strategic-level positions. These positions range anywhere from 6 all the way up to 18 months.


The concept of why buy when you can rent for peak workloads is something of real interest to organizations. First of all, it helps them to deal with the talent shortage, but it also helps them to costs under control. Say a company has a large number of RSP responses to go through that they’re behind done; it’s perfect for a highly skilled contingent worker to come in rather than bringing in another permanent person who they’re not going to need on a long-term basis. It’s perfect for those kinds of time-sensitive situations and assignments. They bring them in, they have them do the job for six months, and then they have them leave.


The ability to get immediate cost savings from these efficiencies have been in areas of supply chain leaders who have been able to uncover and, these days, work harder to get your top line numbers down to the bottom line. It’s an excellent way to keep really nimble in the middle and get those dollars right down to the bottom line. They’re using these staff for business cycles, they’re using them to help scale companies without taking away a very delicate growth stage. It’s an excellent way of scaling a company without taking on permanent cost and that’s very critical.


They’re getting the expertise. Another example is that contingent workers can then act as business transformation. They can come in and they can deal with some very delicate situations where change management needs to happen within an organization where they’re getting a lot of push-back from individuals who are in the organization and don’t want change. By bringing in an outside person, they can get dealt with because they’re actually not a full-time person and the process moves faster.


They can cover things like leads; they can deal with many different types of situations, many sensitive projects; find out new business-development ideas. It actually works out very, very well for companies to be able to augment both the permanent with the contract and keep it that way on a permanent basis. Is that clear?


Are there any recommendations you have on how to work with the contingent workforce in supply chain?


The great thing for companies is that they get to develop client and consultant relationships rather than employee-employer relationship. Contingent workers can incorporate and earn better money and better tax advantages, so companies are taking advantage of the people who are getting better work-life balance. While there are always going to be many people who want to be in permanent positions, there are more and more people who are attracted by contract work.


You’re always going to get people who want to be in permanent roles, but there are more people who want to be in these types of positions. The advantage for these individuals is that they get to work with so many different varieties of companies and projects that they often get to accelerate their careers much faster than they would otherwise be able to do. I’ve had contractors who’ve worked for me who have come to me as really good intermediate people and who’ve been doing contract work for three, four years and are now probably about three or four positions ahead of where they would’ve been had they stayed in a permanent position.


At Argentus, we’re able to offer companies the ability to payroll contingent staffers on our payroll, which helps to protect them. They have the ability to save money, bring the person on very quickly, and be able to let them go very quickly, which means that it’s a very expandable and nimble workforce that allows it to work with their needs as those needs change.


These days, needs change and you have to be very competitive in order to really compete well in the global marketplace.


Often, companies do mis-classify workers and try to bring workers in on their own as contractors. You would never get companies doing that for IT or for engineering. What my recommendation is that I think that companies should be really, really utilizing contract workers, contingent interim workers for supply chain and procurement, but they shouldn’t be bringing these people in on their own because they’re putting themselves in a vulnerable position. They should be always bringing them in through a third party. There are specialty search firms such as Argentus who can help them very quickly come up with a strategy.


I think it’s a great option available for companies who have hiring freezes, for example, and there are many ways that we can consult with clients to give them many more options than they’re used to. That’s what I have to say today.


Thanks, Bronwen, for sharing this important trend: the rise of the contingent contract workforce.


Thank you. I’m sure we’ll chat again.





About Bronwen Hann



Bronwen Hann

Purveyor of Hand Crafted Talent Search in Supply Chain & Procurement

LinkedIn Profile

I interviewed Omon Edeki who discussed Supply Chain and Risk Collaboration Challenges, and How Cloud Solutions Helps Bring Diverse Distributed Teams Together to Solve Challenges.







It’s great to speak with you today, Omon. I’m looking forward to hearing your views today on supply chain and risk-collaboration challenges and also some solutions. My first question regarding this topic is: Can you describe what these challenges are?


The first challenge—I work with a lot of energy specialists. I live in Houston, Texas, and that’s the energy capital of the world—at least it has been the past couple years. Supply chain is not just about, depending on who you’re talking to, but supply chain is everything that has to do with how we get hydro carbons, how we move our products, how we move all our equipment to a site, do what we need to do, get what we need to get, and get out in a very efficient and safe manner. When we’re talking about supply chain, it’s not just about a retail store, although that could be one context, but in the context of manufacturing or energy or an industrial vantage point, you’re looking at what those steps are that need to be done in order to execute a project efficiently and safely.


Historically, a lot of these types of initiatives have been done with teams and they have project methodologies, but with software and cloud, our perspective is, we’re trying to encourage the industry to begin to adopt digital software tools to help make all these processes more seamless, recordable, in a digital format, more collaborative. And that’s what we do. That’s what we’re bringing to the industry with our software, our services, and our specialty. That’s what we do.


Another big piece of this pie is safety. Safety is a huge issue. We don’t want people dying. We’ve had situations where we’ve had oil spills with some companies—I’m not going to mention any names—but we’ve had oil spills in some cases, and then going in to clean up all these oil spills is very expensive. We’re trying to encourage our customers to begin to look at those core key performance indicators that cause accidents and cause safety issues. It comes down to inspections and maintaining all our equipment. We’re trying to encourage them to use software and digital solutions to identify these issues and to execute these inspections to reduce their risk of accidents and incidents.


Also, we’ve heard of a story on the international front where there was an explosion in an international city, and it cost many people their lives. Again, that’s typically what happens when there are lapses or accidents. The cost of cleanup, the cost of addressing media in these challenges is just so expensive.


Why don’t we put in these processes? Again, it’s not just about technology; it’s really about getting people to change their culture, change their mind-set, and get the whole team to embrace a whole methodology of inspecting, being efficient, reporting, recording, and holding ourselves accountable. And that’s what we do in the supply chain world. It comes down to looking at inventory, knowing what you have, knowing if what you have performs okay. That’s kind of what we do, and that’s a problem space.


The second question you asked was: How can it be addressed? We have some software that we’re recommending that we’ve developed called Verity. If you can see the screen, this is just a quick view of what the software looks like. Basically, it models worksites, distribution worksites. It can be anywhere in the world, multiple places, multiple team members can be looking at the same software, and they can see what they have in their inventory at one site.


This comes down to what you have as far as supply and demand. Do you have enough product and equipment to do the job? And when I do have those things, sometimes we want to run maintenance inspections. The software also supports, we’re trying to encourage our clients to run safety inspections. This is an example of safety inspection.


Let’s say this was a shipping plant. A lead inspector will go to the shipping plant and define all the objects in that site. From time to time, he would now design safety designs for all the core product classes, then when they develop these safety designs, they will now get their team members to routinely run safety inspections, which is what you see here.


This is a safety inspection that was run by somebody. It looks at the length, weight reading, check if its oil, and they collect all the readings. All this is saved to the cloud, by the way. All the different key players can see what’s going on. You don’t leave it to chance, and you can add things like: Is the warehouse clean? Is the generator working? What’s the output? Are there any leaks? Are there any spills? You can put everything in a digital format, and, that way, you manage your risk and reduce risk of incidence.


That’s what we bring to the table; that’s our story. The first piece is the digital supply chain, which talks about inventory levels, and there’s also a logistics piece, which I won’t go too much into because that’s kind of a saturated space right now. We can also model things like moving pieces of equipment from one site to the other.


That comes into play when, let’s say you have in one site—here, I’m looking at the Houston site; I can also spin off another instance of the application to look at maybe Port of Santos and West terminal, which is in Brazil.

Many times, supply chain experts, if they want to check their inventory, maybe want to go buy something, but before you go out and buy it, sometimes it makes sense to see if you have it in stock in a different part of the world, any of your other distribution centers, before you go out and purchase it. It allows us to check and see. If you have something, let’s say you want to move 20 Hoffmann Flow meters from the Port of Santos to Houston, it’s very, very easy; you can quickly implement what we call a collection, and then you move pretty much what you want from the Brazil site to the Houston site.


It says I have 125. Let’s say I want to move 25; I ship from Brazil to Houston, and I click Save. It saves it and then you can come back here, and you now can go ahead and move it. You can look at what I have in here. By the way, all this is in the cloud. You can tell it to move from Port of Santos to Houston, Texas. You click Move, and it keeps track of all the inventory, all the logistics, and it tracks who’s moving what.


This is very useful in a case where you have distribution personal, and maybe you can have a truck driver or a shipper or dispatcher who does this sort of work and keeps track of financing. Let’s say the cost of financing is $3500; the software keeps track of all the financials, and it can also tie in to ERP. Then you save the data. The software keeps track of all the inventory. Before, it said we had 125, and if you come back and check again, it went down to 100, so that tells us that we’ve moved 25. If you look at the new Houston inventory, it should tell you that you’ve added 25 of those. Bingo! It says I have 25 in the Houston site.


This can also be used for logistics, moving things around, safety, and just keeping track of the supply and demand. That’s the unique spin we bring to the table. There are other vendors out there that provide similar solutions, but many of them focus heavily on the financial side of things; we focus heavily on the logistics side and the safety and the maintenance inspections and keeping all that in track to manage risk and increase efficiency in a very collaborative environment.


That’s our spin, that’s our story from a technical standpoint. We’re still trying to introduce it to the marketplace. We started out in the energy industry, and now we’re talking to different customers who are trying to introduce Six Sigma and 5S, which is just a methodology to encourage efficiency, to encourage, know what you have, to encourage ordering and proper slotting of your warehouse and proper pricing. At the end of the day, if you’re more accurate, you can better measure and better predict and better run an efficient supply chain. We’re trying to tag along this software with these specialists, so as they’re out there trying to introduce these in lean, digital, Six Sigma, and 5S, they can have the tools to help support these new initiatives.


Are we finding any success? Yeah, so far we have one partner in the Middle East and another guy in India. Those are the first two people who are using the software. They’re playing with it and trying to introduce it. I must say, it’s an exciting time because there’s so much of a need for this, but I think part of the problem is, they know there’s a need, but they don’t know there’s a solution. Just the education piece is where we are, but there are solutions, we present some technical solutions. I think it’s exciting; I think the market is slowly beginning to respond to our message.


And what was the other question we have here? Dustin, do you want to chip in here?


My last question is: Can you provide a brief background of yourself?


I was born in Lagos, Nigeria, which is in West Africa. Nigeria is an oil-producing country. I came to the United States for college. I’m a software developer/consultant. I work typically with energy companies, and I’m slowly trying to expand my practice to go a little bit more into other vertical industries because right now, oil prices are not as attractive; three’s quite a bit of shrinking in the energy space.


Typically, my biggest projects have been in the oil and gas space, helping my clients with optimizing oil production, optimizing going after gas reservoirs, developing software and solutions to help them go after these reservoirs. Also, I’ve worked with some of the bigger companies like Exxon Mobil, I’ve worked with Halliburton, Boots and Coots, and I’ve also worked with a couple technology companies as well. Typically, I sit in between an engineer, technical expert, or a subject-manner expert, and he has his ideas and visions, and when he needs a technical person to help bring it to life or put together software to help bring about his vision, that’s where I get hired.


Now, we’ve developed this software. This software, Verity, that you see, kind of grew out of the engagements I had with Halliburton. I went out to their site. They’re a wonderful company and I noticed that there was a need for maintaining assets and doing it in a digital fashion. That’s one of the things that led us down this path of developing this solution. That’s what I do for a living.


Right now, we’re still trying to get more customers, more traction for this software, and our expertise. I’m based in Houston, Texas, which is the greatest state in the U.S., depending on who you ask, but I think it’s a great state—very entrepreneurial, very open-minded, very international as well.


On the personal side, I am married and have got two kids. I play soccer.


Thanks for sharing today.






About Omon Edeki



Omon Edeki

Managing Director,

LinkedIn Profile

I interviewed Thomas Nash who discussed Predictions for the Financial Supply Chain.







There is a lot happening with the financial aspects of the supply chain. Could you talk to me today about 3 of the trends you see in this space?


Absolutely, I would be happy to. We could probably talk for hours about this topic of trends in the financial supply chain, but let me narrow it down to 3 that myself and my team are dealing with on a regular basis and why I see them as trends. To make this a little more fun, our magic letter for today is “P”. The complex B2B financial supply chain space may not be naturally so exciting so let’s make this a little more interesting.


The first P for today is Platforms.


One of the trends is about vendors who have new and mature eprocurement and payment platforms and the attempt to add a finance component to them. Everyone is looking for value added services to leverage their existing technology investments, both on the technology provider side since many of their old revenue streams have or will become free services, as well as on the customer side, where they have spent money on ERP systems, accounting systems and need to squeeze more out of them, or decide to migrate to newer cloud based systems. Looking at examples beyond enterprise resource planning systems, have a look at supply chain management systems that are looking for new hooks. Look at global networks like GSX, SWIFT and others who have spent years to create massive networks of data exchange. They are now looking to add payments if they have not done so already, and for those already in the payment business, they are looking to add financing components, like trade finance and supply chain finance, and in some cases better support audit. While everyone talks about the term collaboration (I mean, what system doesn’t say these days that they have some form of collaboration), the real goal is to leverage whatever data sharing and collaboration there is to find a common version of the truth in information and use that in down stream processes, and, more importantly for the vendors of these solutions, design new revenue streams.


Very interesting. What is your second P trending topic?


I would like to now speak a little about pricing models as the second P. As mentioned before, pricing models are changing. It’s no different than when IT basic services went from a prime revenue source for vendors to a free service and freemium models with upgrade options that would cost customers more. The same thing that has happened with email services over 25 years is happening with more complex solutions. What hotmail and Google did with email to what Microsoft is now doing with desktop applications, the same trend is in place with more complex solutions, and supply chain management is one of the more complex areas of business. The cloud has created flexibility for the vendors to pick and choose what they want to charge for. As an example, basic research systems for procurement may not cost the customer, but the payment service on the back end might. Being able to search for transportation carriers from a centralized database might not cost the customer anything, but taking advantage of preferred rates might. Where will this all end? Nobody knows, but the logical extension is that perhaps some procurement and payment services become standard out of the box and the supply chain finance or trade finance becomes the chargeable value-added service provided at higher margin to the service providers.


Could you elaborate on a third trend in this industry?


Next I would like to discuss Partnerships as our third P.


The financial supply chain is a confusing space right now. Partnerships are necessary to bridge the gaps between all the complex processes from demand and supply management all the way through to real time transportation management, payment and auditing. The David’s and Goliath’s are all trying to dance together and decide how to pair up. Large banks are not good in general at partnering with small technology firms, so it will be interesting to see if any of them can work well together and create something truly innovative. Geographic coverage is another reason why you are seeing more unique partnerships forming out there. What we are seeing is a trend towards morphing identifies. This is a culmination of the trends we have already discussed. In other words, the change in platforms, pricing models and partnerships is forcing the repackaging of financial supply chain services to the point where some bank offering are starting to look more “full service”, some technology firms are starting to look like payment and finance companies. The landscape 5 years from now will look significantly different.


Out of curiosity, is there an area within which there is very little change?


The one thing that has remained constant is the growth of electronic B2B payments. Despite the fact that almost 50% of U.S. B2B payments are still in the form of paper, electronic payments are growing at a good clip and that should continue for the next 20 years until the law of diminishing returns starts to kick in to that trend graph.


Thank you, Tom. Can you provide a brief background of yourself?


I have been the CEO of Xalles and its predecessor companies for the past 19 years. Our firm’s focus has been on the financial aspects of the supply chain, including procurement, contracting, payments, financial reconciliation as well as payment related auditing. We have implemented systems for transportation payments, intergovernmental transaction reconciliation and consumer payment solutions. Our team focuses on solution strategy and design in addition to building and implementing financial supply chain systems. We have done business in over 25 countries. As the leader of the team, I try to stay current on what is happening in our industry.





About Thomas Nash



Thomas Nash

CEO, Xalles

LinkedIn Profile

I interviewed Julio Franca who discussed Supply Chain and Procurement Interface Trends.







It’s great to speak with you again, Julio. Today I’m looking forward to hearing your views on supply chain and procurement interface trends. My first question is regarding procurement and supply chain. Right now there’s some controversy whether procurement should be part of the supply chain. Others say it should be a standalone function. What are your experiences and advice on this subject?


Thanks again for having me here. I think it’s a good question. It’s a controversy in the market. In my view, it’s not an either-or solution; it’s more about how your business is structured and the key priorities in your business.


I would say, first and foremost, it’s important that supply chain and procurement work very closely together and definitely on the organizational structure. Having said that, I see benefit in having procurement reporting directly, for example, for a CEO level or for the board of the company, especially in two moments: when you have a high need for rapid and significant cost cutting. For example, as we had in 2008, 2009; in the downturn of the economy, we had quite a number of organizations moving CPO directory reports into CEO.


At the end of the day, these guys are managing anywhere from 50 to 60, 80 percent of the cost of the company when you consider direct and indirect materials, including services from low-cost sourcing, final outsourcing, and so forth. Having said that, I think cost cutting is not the only reason. I think there’s also a different setup where you have suppliers being so much into the core business, your business strategies, then you have CPOs who are intermittently managing or leading directly the relationship with suppliers, reporting to the CEO as they are suppliers as expected to bring or add value to the business.


You can think about a new product development coming from suppliers who, in some or most of the cases, they know more about a specific technology, packaging technology, for example. These guys know more than the clients, the ones who are buying the goods. And then there’s a high need for these guys working very closely with R and D at the top level in the business. Value generation cannot only be through R and D, but you can have new market ideas, new differentiated solutions and even if you think about outsourcing parts of the business or, in extreme cases, keeping only the really core marketing sales development, all of that and all the rest of that is then managed directly by CPO or chief supply chain officer, who is in this extended supply chain.


Procurement is often seen as a cost-cutting machine, but on the other hand, there are some significant expectations in terms of how to enable procurement to deliver top value to the business. What’s your advice on this?


I don’t think it’s, it builds on the previous question; it’s not necessarily an either-or question. Procurement leads are now expected to continue to do cost cutting because they’re responsible for the majority cost of the business, so let’s not forget that any movement they’re doing cost cutting, so for every 2 percent of what you’re doing in cost reduction, you improve return on net asset (RONA) by 12 percent. Any marginal improvement, can generate a very significant value creation to the business.


That definitely is a long while, and it’s going to be the primary responsibility of procurement, of cost cutting or cost reduction.


What I’ve seen that’s been changed over the past few years is that more than cost cutting, constantly cutting the meat—the fat, the meat, and bone—I see procurement leaders more has the fewer reducing optimizing cost but balancing the right value equation. It is about optimizing the cost by reducing it, but working cleverly and in partnership with the right suppliers at the right place, with the right categories, integrating the value chain from an end-to-end point of view, starting from logistics, which is something quite obvious, but going to R and D, development, finance, and even sometimes aligning strategies as per discussed in last question, you have more and more packaging suppliers being business partners now, as being part one of the external part, as being part of developing the business’s strategy. If you think about three years straight to bring it to life, but if you think about what you see, how you sell the product, at the end of the day, if you move the packaging technology, which will present sometimes 60 to 70 percent of the total procurement cost, it’s quite an improvement you can do in cost, but also into a value generation, consumer perspective. That’s what more and more procurement leads are being challenged and are dealing with.


The other big thing here is about there are some conditions that you have to respect to do business: sustainability, respecting environment, respecting societies, not using child labor, and then it’s all about not cost cutting. If you go to some parts of the world, in some type of suppliers, definitely, you can have the lowest-possible cost. The challenge now is what the optimum cost is rather than the minimum cost, that you’re still respecting societies, environment, and supporting and driving and financing the innovation and the business growth.


More and more procurement directors are taking wider roles in the business outside the traditional procurement and supply chain scopes. What do you think is happening here? What are your views on this?


I completely agree. I think procurement moved over the past few years from local to regional, to global levels. These guys, the procurement leaders, CPOs, are now managing big teams, virtual teams. The span of scope now typically is over 15, so you can think about a CPO managing 10 to 15 VPs or procurement directors, and each one of them then respectfully managing another 10 to 15 professionals. It’s actually big leadership roles. It’s quite similar to big roles in manufacturing. These guys developed quite sharp and globalized leadership skills, leading and developing teams on a global base, of course with challenges of time zones and terms of culture differences. And in addition to that, they’re also dealing with many suppliers from many parts of the world and being involved in many businesses, technology, services, products.


At the end, I don’t see, necessarily, these guys developing procurement strategies; I see them getting the business strategies and developing strategies on how to best source and to best develop the sourcing solution for that specific category or service. To do that, they really need to go to an end-to-end understanding of their suppliers’ business, which is the P and L, the balance sheet, growth, marketing environment, competition, laws and regulations. By doing that, they are nearly on a day-to-day basis, analyzing different business models, combining the big leadership roles with these clear end-to-end understanding of the business, they are more and more prepared to lead parts of the business or even, in extreme cases, become CPO or leading a significant portion of their business.


This is reality now. In a few industries now, I see this happening in electronics and consumer goods and pharmaceuticals as well. I think this is a trend that is here to stay. I’ve been working recently with an insurance company, and they’re looking for the first CPO to leverage volumes and optimize value generation. I was involved in the hunting, not as hunting, but as technical consultant in charge of the whole end-to-end program. And then the candidate that has been chosen was a guy who had no previous procurement experience, but was a quite recognized business leader. In order to drive this change, it also works the other way around. If you are outside procurement but you’re looking for a leadership role that will leverage you into the next level of the business, then procurement might be the place to be.


Thanks. Can you provide a brief background of yourself?


I’m a managing consultant for nine years. I work for Spin Consulting, a small, boutique consulting working worldwide with clients, consumer goods, anywhere from insurance to pharma, to baby products. Spin is not only in charge of designing change, but we also work very heartily and closely to implementation and delivering results which are sustainable over time, and the results are also tangible. Prior to that, I worked ten years in the consumer-goods industry for Unilever, and then I had many supply chain roles in various parts of the world. I’m now based in Munich, but as any consultant, I travel two to three weeks per month. That’s a bit about myself.


Thanks again for sharing.


Excellent. Thanks a lot, Dustin, it’s good stuff.





About Julio Franca



Julio Franca

Director at Spin Consulting

LinkedIn Profile

I interviewed David Landau, Executive Vice President at Cloud Logistics, who discussed Latest Trends in the TMS Market.







I’m looking forward today to hearing your views on the latest trends in the TMS market. My first question: What are the general trends in the TMS market?


Thank you, Dustin, and I appreciate the opportunity to speak with you today. The transportation software market is a very mature one. As much as it is mature and has been around for 30 years, it’s really very active today and there a few reasons why. If you think historically about the TMS space, these projects are between 6 and 18 months long, very large, often $1 million-plus investments and really projects that only can be justified by the larger shippers. By larger, I mean companies that spend $75 or $100 million or more annually in freight spend. That being said, that market is largely saturated, but the midsize and smaller shippers really haven’t had the opportunity to take advantage of the TMS technology.


When cloud TMS came along, it certainly opened up the market to some of the midsize shippers, but what we’re seeing today is a huge growth in demand in the small and midsize business market for TMS. We’re starting to see new solutions come out in the marketplace that are really very much catered to them and their requirements, which are very different than what the larger shippers really need.


What are the implications for the growth within the small and medium-size business demand for TMS?


That’s a great question. There are a couple of implications, and the first one really comes around cost. It’s much easier to scale up than it is to scale down, and the TMS solutions that have been around for a long time are very good at the large, complex problems with a lot of optimization and, quite frankly, a lot of Ph.D.’s doing work to help you figure out how to configure that optimization. The reality is, if you’re spending $10, $20, even $30 million a year on freight, there isn’t that much opportunity for freight savings. There usually isn’t that much opportunity for consolidation and optimization.


The benefits these companies are looking for are some level of freight savings due to optimization, but also a lot of benefits of savings due to process automation, consistency and visibility. That’s a very different kind of system in terms of how you design it, how you engineer it, how you deploy it, and how you maintain it over the long run. Really, those implications come down to the cost because it can’t be nearly as expensive, or even proportionately expensive as some of the traditional TMS models; but then, it puts a whole new focus on usability of the TMS.


How is usability viewed differently today than it was five or seven years ago?


I think, historically, in all of supply chain and not just TMS, software vendors  — and I’m guilty of this as well — placed so much focus on feature and function and science and math. Every release was all about cramming in as much new capability as possible, adding flags, adding bells, adding whistles and so forth.

The problem is that all these features and functions increase complexity. I’ll give you an example: All these additional features and flags greatly introduce complexity, and it’s common today to think about the systems with the hundreds of flags, really billions of different permutations and combinations. It requires an incredible amount of sophistication on the user’s part, training by the software vendor, and the burdens of documentation and experience on the system to really be able to use it.


If you look at some of the bigger TMS vendors today, they offer anywhere from five to 15 days’ worth of classroom training to become proficient in the system. Think about that. Fifteen days – that’s more time than most people take in vacation devoted to the vendor’s expectation that you spend it in a classroom, learning to be proficient their TMS. You just can’t do that in small and midsize businesses, or the midsize shipper. It’s got to be a system that’s very easy to use, very rapid to deploy, and, quite frankly, one that doesn’t intimidate and prohibit exploration of the system and innovation of the use of the system.


The other aspect of usability that’s important to know is to think about the users that command the system. That once meant somebody who grew up in the ’80s and ’90s era in technology, where you were using green screens and client-server applications that are very sophisticated, very complex, and, quite frankly, not that user-friendly. But if you think about the folks who are coming to technology today and the supply chain talent that’s in there today, it’s the millennials.


They’re no longer coming; they’re here and they’re replacing a lot of the retirees from the baby-boom generation who are used to these green screens and client-server technology. The new face of supply chain is used to Facebook, Twitter, Instagram, iPads; they’re used to a whole different approach to user interface. Quite frankly, you don’t need training to use Facebook, even though it’s actually fairly sophisticated in how it can be used. What this means is that user interface is not only critical for how you process automation, but it’s also critical for hiring and retaining critical supply chain talent.


What are some of the benefits to smart, user-centric design besides the obvious?


The obvious is there, certainly, in terms of overall client satisfaction, but there are also studies out there that show that for software projects, very few of them actually come close to attaining the value and the benefits that we’re expecting. Less than 1 percent of them actually have, and in that research study, they found that those who didn’t receive expected benefits said it was because of a lack of feature function. Seventy percent have said that it was due to a lack of user adoption.


If you have a smart, user-centered design that’s easy to understand and easy to adopt, you’re far more likely to get the benefits that you planned on with a project than you would if you had a much more complex user interface. Above and beyond that, what happens is, if you’re a user and using software for the first time, you really focus on being in exploration mode. You’re spending time poking around the system, figuring out how it works, and figuring out how you need to do your job.


But that’s when the switch flips. Once you know how to do your job, most users go into task-execution mode. Simply put, how do I do my job day today? They never really learn to use the system beyond their minimum need. If you have good user-centered design, one that’s very intuitive and almost self-learning, then it becomes a different story. Then you’ve created a culture and environment of exploration, where it’s safe to explore. What happens is, the people who know their job best on a day-to-day basis become the people who best learn the system the best on a day-to-day basis, and figure out in a new way how they can use the system in ways they never planned. That’s really where it gets very exciting, because now you’re starting to get benefits innovation that are above and beyond anything you previously planned. It’s really quite exciting as a huge, uncapped potential for a lot of companies out there.


Thank you, David. Can you provide a brief background of yourself?


Sure. My name is David Landau. I’m the executive vice president for a company called Cloud Logistics. Cloud Logistics is the newest and most innovative provider of cloud-based transportation-management systems, so, obviously, this is a topic that I know quite well. I’ve been in the industry for over 20 years, and spent time with some of the largest supply chain software companies in implementation and R&D, marketing and sales, and I’ve most recently taken a leadership position at Cloud Logistics. Prior to being in this space, I graduated with an engineering degree from Duke University.


Thanks for sharing today.


Thank you, Dustin; it’s been my pleasure.





About David Landau



David Landau

Executive Vice President at Cloud Logistics

LinkedIn Profile

I interviewed Constance Korol who discussed Why Change is So Hard, The Parallels of Ironman Training to Corporate Continuous Improvement.







Today I’m looking forward to hearing your views on why change is so hard. Also, you’re going to provide an interesting parallel with Iron Man training, and this is in regard to corporate continuous improvement. My first question is: Why is change so difficult?


Thank you, Dustin. Thank you for having me on the show, first of all. It was a pleasure to receive your invite. I’m so happy to talk about this topic because it’s something I’m really passionate about.


The first question: Why is change so difficult? I’ll put that, first, into my business experience. I’ve been in business planning for over 15 years. I’ve heard so many stories of companies trying to implement different processes and technologies, and at the end of the day, I’ve seen some really great salespeople do a great sales pitch with companies and say, “As soon as you implement this software, you’re going to see X, Y, and Z. Someone in IT will just implement that.”


But then there were so many missing pieces of the puzzle and building the foundation behind all of that. You really need to get—what I’m going to talk about is four things in place for a company and also for someone who’s training for Iron Man, which I will get to in a second, in order to put those things in place, put the bricks down as a foundation in order to really, really implement change and be successful with it.


Can you talk some about how it’s done?


Sure, Dustin. A little background about me. I have 15 years’ experience in business planning. I’m also an athlete. I’ve been a runner for probably 20 years. I’ve also been in triathlon for about 5 years now; this is my fifth season. I completed Iron Man, my first Iron Man distance triathlon race last year. For the folks out there, that’s a 2.4-mile swim, 112-mile bike, and then you do a full marathon after that.


Needless to say, there’s a lot of training, a lot of months of planning, and a lot involved in order to do that, in order to make it to that finish line. It sort of is the same thing with continuous improvement at companies. I kind of want to just go through, if it’s okay, four steps of what it really takes to implement change for not only that athlete, but also that corporation that really is going to benefit from spending all that money, time, resources, effort, and all the talent they have to hire in order to back all that up to get really good success at the end of that project.


Dustin, I’ll start with number one, which is planning. It seems pretty simple; of course you have to plan. But that old cliché of fail to plan, plan to fail is so absolutely true. You really need to get a schedule in place. You need to have that roadmap down very, very clear, and you need to lay out that foundation. Whether you’re building a new Web site, whether you are looking to put in a new process in place in your company, or implement a new technology, the planning is really crucial.


I’ll parallel that with Iron Man training, where it’s seven months of training in a platform called Training Peaks. I have a coach; I listen to my coach diligently. He really analyzes all of my data between heart rate, cadence on the bike, how fast I swim, and looks at my continuous improvement and really talks through the areas of where I need to concentrate, focus in on, and really put more effort in.


I’ll sort of go a little back, where, when I was a runner for many, many years. I was a 2:10 half-marathon girl. I always did my half-marathons in two hours, 10 minutes no matter the terrain, what the weather was. I didn’t have a coach; I just continued to run like I always ran for every single year; year after year, race after race.


When I implemented a coach and a strategy and a plan and I did that before I started my training—before I ran, before I biked, and before I swam—that made a world of difference because we knew collectively that I was going to run better and I was going to bike better and swim better from the beginning of the training to that final race day. We were going to put the tools in place, the work ethic in place, and the plan that was going to make that happen. The plan is really important.


Dustin, I move on to number two, which is being flexible. At an Iron Man, you do your best to be so well-prepared, but anything can happen out there. Let’s say you get a flat tire. You have to be so well-prepared mentally to just handle those couple of minutes where you have to sit on the road, pull out that tire, inflate a new tube, put the tire back on. It’s only really a couple of minutes because, of course, you planned beforehand and knew how to fix that tire, but you really just have to gather your thoughts, be flexible, and go with it. Say to yourself, The five minutes that it’s taken me to do this is really okay. It’s something I can mentally handle.


Being flexible is so important, also, in being in corporate and having continuous improvement. There are always going to be bumps in the road. There are always to be challenges from upper management. There are always going to be people who are going to question you. “Why are you spending so much time doing this? Why are you spending endless nights working parallel, trying to implement change while you’re still trying to get your work done?” You’re going to always have these things come up, and you have to be mentally and physically flexible to handle all that pressure.


I move on to number three, Dustin, which is buy-in. In my experience with corporations, I’ve heard time after time, no matter what the company is trying to do for change, that it is a very big struggle and almost impossible without implementing change, without the support from sponsorships from the upper management, from the executive team, and from someone who’s really going to be a champion to see that project through no matter what happens. You really need to be savvy, and you really need to be very good with your relationships in order to make that happen. A buy-in is absolutely crucial.


I’ll parallel that with Iron Man. You’re going to need major buy-in from your family and friends, your husband, spouse, whoever, because you need tremendous support in order for you to follow through and execute that plan. I’ll take, as an example, this past Saturday. I spent 12 hours of training between swimming, biking, and running.


That was my whole Saturday. And then Sunday, I had to go out there and do it again—run 16 miles—and I’m not even at the peak of training. In order to execute that, you really need to have buy-in from the people behind the people who are with you, who support you, your family, friends. And then, again, in parallel, in corporations, you really need that upper-management support.


Finally, number four is really executing that pace of change. I mentioned to you before that I was this 2:10 marathon girl, which is sort of this 10-, 11-mile-a-minute pace. I really was just sort of doing the same thing over and over and over. Now, to really execute that pace of change on that race day or for that launch or project, it’s going to be easy if you put one, two, and three in perfect place, if you really have that plan that was well thought out, that you had the buy-in from the key stakeholders, you were flexible enough that when bumps in the road and flat tires came your way, you rose to the occasion.


Now it’s just a matter of presenting your gift, presenting your gift of training so ******* Iron Man Day and presenting your gift of what you did for that company and launching successfully. That’s really, really something that should be so easy and seamless on launch day or race day, because of all the time and effort and planning that you put in place in order to make that happen and make that successful.


Thanks, Constance. Is there any more information about yourself, background about yourself you’d like to include?


Thank you, Dustin, thank you so much for this time. I am actually now taking all my experiences, and I’m helping companies find their marketing strategies and their plans. I am now the CEO of iTwitterCoach, and you can find me on LinkedIn. I’m also training for my second Iron Man in Chattanooga, Tennessee, this year with my team TriGlobal Coaching. I’m really looking forward to seeing how this year’s training compares to last year, especially when I was putting all these things in place in order to see certain things happen and, again, the change happen.


Thank you.





About Constance Korol



Constance Korol

Marketing and Communications Consultant/ Yoga Instructor for Children and Adults

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