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I interviewed Michael Goldman who discussed Planning and Pursuing a Dynamic Career Track in Supply Chain.







This is a very important topic on supply chain career planning and pursuing a career in supply chain. Before we start, can you provide a brief background of yourself?


Sure. I'm president and founder of Strategic Associate, an executive recruitment firm based here, actually in Austin, Texas in the United States. And we specialize on a nationwide basis in talent and opportunity in supply chain, manufacturing operations, procurement and quality.


I founded the firm back in 1988, so we've been around for quite some time. I've actually personally been in the business for over 35 years, since 1980 actually, since back in the days. At the by beginnings of what they used to call MRP, which is ERP now, of course. But when supply chain was primarily done on a manual basis. So, I've seen a lot of changes then as the decades have piled up. And so, I have a lot of experience in dealing with professionals in organizations in helping to advise them and how to pursue the most successful career and how to identify talent to bring it to their organizations in a multiple different number of industries—from consumer products to high tech to medical device to industrial to aerospace defense. You name the larger and smaller companies;we've probably dealt with just about all of them in over three decades.


Thanks. And what perspectives can you share that would help supply chain professionals with planning and pursuing a supply chain career?


Sure. Let's start... I always advise people, as we say as a quote, "Being with the end in mind." One of the things that I've seen... Probably about eight or nine out of ten people don't do, is they don't have career goals. They don't have a vision for their careers, where they want to get to in about five or ten years. That's about the time frame. And they wake up one day with them realizing that they weren't happy or being let go, or having some career difficulties. And a lot of that is because people just don't have careers, and it's ultimately ironic that the people who are professional at planning company supply chains and industry supply chains, are among the worst in actually planning their own careers.


So, what I suggest is emphasizing the kinds of activities and talents that they've developed in supply chain, to actually fulfill the ultimate end goal, which would be a successful career.


So, the first point that I would make is, begin with the end in mind. Think about what you can envision for yourself in five to ten years. Where do you want to get to? Otherwise, you're just lost in the wilderness, just looking for career steps, and you're not going to be very successful. And by doing that, I don't mean using round words and phrases. "I want to be in project management," or "I want to help a company become successful."


Dive into the weeds. Get specific. Do you see yourself someday as a director of global supply chain? Do you see yourself as a VP? What part of supply chain? Front-endsupply chain, of course, being planning, SNLP, inventory management, being closer to where the customers are. Or back end supply chain—logistics, distribution, that type of thing, customer service.So, that's the first step.


Now, there are layers of experience that I always suggest people look at. If you ultimately want to get to become a supply chain leader, the place to point yourself toward is probably front-end supply chain. There aren't... You could be the VP of logistics someday, but quite frankly, logistics, the back end of supply chain is generally used by many successful professionals as a beginning stages of their career.


So, what I've seen in people's careers is they've either started on the logistic side, the backend supply chain, or in procurement. Procurement helps to demonstrate that they can actually provide some successful cost savings; they can add to the bottom line with revenue issues. And then, eventually, moving from procurement over the logistics into front-end supply chain. Production planning, inventory management, SNLP, whatever it might be.


Because if you actually looked at LinkedIn, and you look at the profiles of VPs of global supply chain, you'll see that most to them have come from front end supply chain with a background in potentially could be back end supply chain and logistics or in procurement.


What you can't do, though, is in most cases you can't spend 10, 15 years in logistics and suddenly think that you're going to be a global VP of supply chain or a global director. Because most firms see the back end of the supply chain as being valuable but in a limited way.It's basically the physical movement of goods rather than the planning and the impacting of budgets and dollars and sense.


Front-end supply chain is seen where the rubber meets the road, where you actually impact the success of the product going out the door to the customer.


So, that's what I mean by various layers of career track in supply chain. As far as education is concerned, it's great to have an engineering degree. It's great to have a degree in supply chain, and I'm talking about an undergraduate degree. It's better to have either a technical or a supply chain degree of some kind, as opposed to a business degree, because then what you do is you add the MBA on top of that. If you have a general business undergrad degree, then if you can, you want to get a technical postgraduate degree. That's the most attractive kind of academic experience you could have on your resume.


Then on top of that, you want to become certified. APICS certification, ISM certification, whatever it might be. Certification, while it's not necessarily stressed by the company that someone might be with, it shouldn't be taken lightly. Because what that actually does is it sends a message to the marketplace that you go to the outside to constantly educate yourself, the latest trends within supply chain.


So, just because you have an MBA doesn't mean you shouldn't have a certification. By all means, the best resume I could see would be an undergrad degree in a technical field, an MBA, an APICS certification, and then one more step, some kind of LEAN certification or a Six Sigma black belt, if you will.


I know Villanova has a terrific program in Six Sigma. It's a Master's certificate in Six Sigma. If you can do something like that, you can do it online and relate it to supply chain. So, that's the kind of profile that is the most competitive out in the marketplace.


Now, with that in mind, understand that there are two markets that you are really playing to. Two audiences that you have. Of course, with whatever firm you're with, you want to be able to build your career successfully within the firm. But sometimes, that doesn't necessarily match what the marketplace is looking for. For instance, some people go back and forth between line management and process improvement. Process improvement doesn't necessarily bring the credentials necessary to interest the marketplace in making somebody an executive leader in charge of a head count, which is another thing that you need to do.


As soon as you can, you want to have a headcount responsibility and a budget responsibility. You want to add that to your portfolio.


So, what you want to do is you want to be able to build that supply chain experience through back end and front end or procurement and front end. You want to be able to acquire the academics that you need to be competitive in the marketplace. And the certifications. And you want to be able to make sure that you're pursuing successes within your career, within the company, that also make sense to the external marketplace.


External marketplace looks for people who are impacting the bottom line in dollars and sense and having line management responsibility at some point. So, making sure that you have an eye toward appealing to the marketplace, including your current company.


Now, what I've also found is when you're looking at opportunities, whether they be internal, external, the two most effective filters that you could possibly use in judging those opportunities are very important. And believe it or not, they has nothing to do with compensation. As a matter of fact, on the list of 10 reasons why people make moves, compensation is usually somewhere in the bottom five. It's not unimportant but it is still important.


The two top filters that you should use in order to judge opportunity internally and externally are number one, does that opportunity bring you closer to your ultimate goals rather than further away. And number, two, does it give you more options rather than fewer. So, again, does it give you more options rather than fewer options? Does it bring you closer to some of your ultimate goals? Or further away?


Now, what I mean by that is, when you're looking at opportunities, how many options? If you go to your next step whether internally or externally, how will it give you more options? How will it give you more opportunities to be able to think about what you want to do? More options, more different directions to be able to take your career. And as far as getting closer to your some of your ultimate goals, that goes hand in hand with what I mentioned before about establishing your five to ten year career goal, what your vision is, your career vision.


How does it get you closer to that vision? It has to be quantifiable, actionable elements about the opportunity that will get you closer to your goals. I've talked to many people over the years who have suddenly woken up in their careers and realized that they really felt unfulfilled. Or they had just pursued a myriad of different kinds of roles within a company, but they really never led to anything. They never led to a career vision. And as a result, they were unhappy for a whole host of reasons. Or they stopped providing value to their firms, and they found themselves out on the street.


So, if you're doing something in a very organized why, and ironically, what I'm talking about here is implementing the same instance, the same tactics, the same strategies, that a supply chain professional brings to fulfilling a successful supply chain, putting together and executing a successful supply chain. You bring that to your own career, those particular principles, the strategies and tactics, and that's what will lead you to the same success, personally in your career, that you would lead your company to in executing and driving successful supply chain strategies and tactics for your company.


So, those are some tips I would give people. I know that's a lot in a nutshell here. But I think right there, those are some very valuable, in-the-career-weeds kind of guidance that I can give to supply chain professionals out there.


Do you have any particular questions about anything I've shared so far?


Have you seen any common career planning points that supply chain professional struggle with during this process?


Yeah. I'd say getting too wedded to logistics, to back end supply chain and realizing they want to get to the next step but they don't have anything to bridge to the next step. So, as soon as someone can plant the seeds of a career in logistics or procurement, getting into front-end supply chain.I'd say one of the things they probably don't want to do is go back the forth between the various areas. So, if someone is in procurement and they get into front end supply chain, they don't necessarily want to get back into procurement unless they're going to be pursuing leadership in procurement. Same thing with logistics.I've seen some people go from logistics to back end supply chain to front end, and then back to back end. In the latter two thirds of your career, you go back in the supply chain and logistics, then you become stereotyped by the marketplace by that role. And it's the same thing in procurement.


So, you're latest role into your career by, let's say, eight, nine, ten years, what you do after that, the market will stereotype that. So, once you get to that point, you want to make sure you get into front end supply chain if you can.


The other thing is, people don't leverage their tools, their resume and their LinkedIn profile. They think they only have to have a resume and a successful LinkedIn profile when they are actively looking, when that's not the case. Those are great tools to keep track of what you'redoing. Ever go up to your attic and find all these boxes of all these old things in them and say, "Oh my god. Everything backed up here. I've got to unpack things. I've got to figure what they are. I've got to organize them."


It's the same approach that people take with their resumes and LinkedIn profiles. They suddenly go up to the attic, and they find all this stuff with all this dust in it that they haven't thought about it in a long time, and they have to organize everything. One of the things about organizing your resume and your LinkedIn profile is it puts you through executing a preparation and organization of your thoughts about the value that you've brought to your organizations and your career, and it's amazing how so few people are able to clearly articulate the value that they've brought to their firms as a result of not having this organization and thought.It's a very valuable exercise to go through.


And then I'd say the other thing too is having a counsel, having someone, for instance, in the recruitment business, in my industry, who understands what they do for a living, who they can go to for advice any time they need, whether it be internal or external opportunity.


I have relationships with people over many years who come to me from time to them just to ask me for advice on opportunities they see in the marketplace or internally they have an opportunity to fill.


I have actually placed people back in the '80s who have sent their children to me, once they've graduated from college and put in a couple of years in the marketplace, to seek advice. And I always tell my friends I don't have to make a buck every time you call. I just feel as if it's incumbent upon me, having been in this marketplace for so long, to give back, to pay it forward in some way. Because I think it's important for people to have some guidance. They can't bury you in the bottom of the pyramid with all the gold and jewels. To me, it's a legacy issue.


If I can provide input to someone that they find value in and that helps them pursue a successful career at some point in their lives, or at least helps to put them in touch with the reality of the marketplace as it relates to what they've done so far, then I see that as being a valuable contribution to the supply chain and the manufacturing marketplace.


So, that was a long answer to your short question, but did that give you an answer?


Yes. And thank you for sharing today. This is very good insight for supply chain professionals.


Absolutely.I'm very glad to help, spend a little time with you, Dustin. I hope it's been helpful to you.


Thank you.




About Michael Goldman





Michael Goldman


President and Founder of Strategic Associates, Inc.


LinkedIn Profile

I interviewed Martin Hogan who discussed The Importance of Dynamic Performance Appraisal.





Can you first provide a brief background of yourself?



Well, I spent 13 years in procurement supply chain, watching primarily supply-side engineering with design companies and manufacturing companies. What I've noticed over that period is that design manufacture sales are no longer joined together. They are often separate companies, separate operations. Economically, useful as separate. By losing the joined up line between them you end up with a disconnected process. You lose touch with what you're actually trying to do.


You'll notice over the years, we've had problems with companies using slave labor, child labor, with poisonous chemicals being used in their finished products. And it comes back to not actually having a joined up supply chain from the concepts, the idea that we want to manufacture our products, through to actually supplying that to our customer.


I see that as a significant problem that we have at the moment. The companies are saying we have complex supply chains when in fact they actually built in that complexity. I don't know if you've heard of some of the, for example, the food struggle that's scare that we've had over the past few years, where you have an animal being bred for slaughter, for meat, that then goes through half a dozen different companies—literally half a dozen different companies—for feeding, slaughtering, meat stripping off, packing into different types of food stuff, making it into different shapes, putting it into different label, packaging it, etc.


It is a decision by the end supplier to the customer, that they want to bring their supply chain up that way. I see that as a significant problem that we do need to overcome and revisit as we start to look at our supply chains over the next few years.


What would be the root causes of this problem?


At lot of it, as I said, there's been a financial concern where somebody has looked at a cost of doing some work and said it's too expensive to do in-house. We can get this other company overseas to do it more cheaply. But there's a catch. When they do that, they lose the technical expertise to carry out the job that's core to their industry.


If I design and manufacture a product, for example, I can't, at some state, say, well, that part of the design is too expensive. It's too complicated. I'll give it to somebody else. Because it was actually a core part of my business. The fact it's expensive is unfortunate, but if I release the skills on how to design it and how to assemble it and manufacture it, then what am I actually doing?


So, it's looking at things as a whole rather than saying, that particular process is expensive. We have to understand how it fits into the final product that we're manufacturing. And this is a problem having a deregulated global market. You end up having to chase the lowest price, even though you know it's not necessarily going to be good for you sometime.


Do you have any specific recommendations for how to create this holistic way of seeing the supply chain?


Well, part of it is a government thing. As I said, because of the massive deregulation that we've seen since the 70's. That includes things like exporting pollution to China, because we are not allowed to use chemicals over here. But we find we can in China, India, and parts of Africa. So, we export the industry. And we don't actually clean up our act.


So, internationally, we need governments to cooperate to stop that sort of offshoring of work, simply because there's a financial savings. We need to look at as a whole.


Within an industry, they need to be very careful about just letting the accountant decide on something that's going to happen. Financial control is obviously vital for companies, but they do need some supply chain people look at the quality and the expertise that they require to do that job. If they've got [inaudible] for their companies, they're saying the supply chain or something else is getting very complicated, then they need to have particular senior management staff that are responsible for making sure that all the processes—internal and external—that the company are involved in, that those processes don't become too complicated.


I think it's an internal drive that makes it complicated. It's not somebody outside the company that says I'm going to make it complicated.


And if you look at something like [inaudible 00:06:58] that problem keeps recurring. That comes down to a number of suppliers not knowing who their customer is and what's required of them.


Now because of the quality requirements of the auto industry. That shouldn't happen, because it's me as an auto maker would authorize particular supplies to do things. So, if somebody down the line doesn't know that [inaudible 00:07:30], that's my fault. I should have had a supply chain manager and director through the supply chain, authorized all the supplies within my supply chain, right down to the nuts and bolts and electronic components. I should have those design in and authorized by me. They shouldn't be done by some third party, because it's got my name on it.


Toyota had a huge problem with their airbags and their car sales stalled because of it. You can't turn around and say that it be your supplier that did it wrong, because it's got your name on it. That's my argument, but I think that's the way companies need to focus in the future.


Have you seen any examples of making progress in dealing with the problem?


Unfortunately, no.You've got companies like Apple, where they have that sort of micro-control, because they dominate the marketplace. But I find a lot of companies are still interested in passing the buck, as it were, meaning it wasn't an internal problem, it was somebody outside. And even where they've got serious problems, such as the problems in Bangladesh with the factories collapsing, there hasn't been a drive to actually sort that out.


There are being people put in place that are supposed to sort it out, but if you look behind that and look at the work that they carried out to improve conditions, there's very little work actually being done. And it is disappointing that they're not really taking ownership of the work properly.


Thanks, Martin, for sharing today. Do you have any final recommendations?


I think companies do need to look seriously at their supply chains and how they're managed. There are changes that will take place. There are environmental problems that we face that we'll see change in supply chain. There are consumer changes in the way we look at the products we're buying, both mechanical, electronic stuff, as well as food stuffs. People are starting to question what's happening there. And the companies that are responsible for those supply chains do need to start to looks at what they're doing and be much more proactive, I think.


Thanks again. I look forward to staying in touch if you have additional updates on this topic or further topics.


About Martin Hogan



Martin Hogan.jpg


Martin Hogan

Supply Chain Surveyor at Lockheed Martin

LinkedIn Profile

I interviewed Sanjay Kshirsagar who discussed Cost of Poor Quality in Supply Chain.





Hello, Dustin and all


Thank you very much for your time and patience for listening me, My Name is Sanjay Kshirsagar, and I am going to discuss to you today about COPQ, To begin COPQ is important because it will help us to increase our profitability as well as our customer satisfaction.


Brief about me, I started career in manufacturing and supply chain back in India with biggest Dairy Company of India, called as AMUL "The TASTE of India". I was taking care for warehouse and distribution, supply chain, it was good learning for me. After that I had joined Givaudan (It is Swiss MNC), they were in Flavor business, after that I joined as Leader Demand Planning in Galaxy Surfactants (Indian MNC). In Galaxy I had established various system, Like S&OP and Demand Planning process.


After that my next Assignment with Ampacet (American MNC) they were in Master batch business, where I was working there as HEAD Supply Chain for India. At present I am working with HENKEL SOUTH AFRICA as HEAD Supply Chain and taking care of end to end supply Chain.


During my above experience in my various companies, I learned importance of COPQ in Supply chain and sharing the same with you.


Regarding COPQ


Everyone interested in reducing the costs within their organization and improving their effectiveness in their respective roles within their company.


From my perspective "It is all about cost" but not by sacrificing what the organization does best or what they should do in order to transform your business to meet your operational goals and objectives.


As per Industry Norms, Cost of Poor Quality typically amounts to 5-30% of gross sales for manufacturing and service companies. Independent studies reveal that COPQ is costing companies millions of dollars each year and its reduction can transform marginally successful companies into profitable ones. Yet most executives believe that their company's COPQ is less than 5%, or just do not know what it is. All levels of executives recognize that quality is an absolute necessity to survive and succeed in today's business environment.


Traditionally Cost of Poor Quality will be calculated as per below formula


COPQ = Function of Costs (External Failures+ Internal Failures+ Appraisals+ Preventive Cost)


It is in the range of 4-5 % of Sales


Actual Cost of Poor Quality: Hidden COPQ: The costs incurred to deal with these chronic problems, it is in the range of 15-25 % of Sales


Cost of Poor Quality in Supply Chain


Below is some example of COPQ in Supply Chain, for better monitoring we had divided in below part of Supply chain


  • Planning -  Obsolete and Slow moving inventory/Incorrect line sequencing/Order loss/Urgent purchase on Higher price/Production Loss due to non-availability of Material
  • Purchase - Airfreight Cost/Purchase on urgency/Non utilization of FTA/RM rejection
  • Export/Import - Outbound Airfreight/Detention and demurrage at Port/Damages/Documentation Error
  • Logistics and warehouse - Unscheduled dispatch/LCL shipments/Vehicle capacity Utilization/Wrong Documentation
  • Customer service- LCL consignment/Return products/wrong shipment due to Customer order error



In addition below are some hidden COPQ examples

  • Excessive overtime
  • Late paperwork
  • High Costs
  • Pricing or Billing errors
  • Excessive Field Services Expense
  • Incorrectly completed sales order
  • Excessive Employee Turnover
  • Planning Delays
  • Excess Inventory
  • Complaint Handling
  • Unused Capacity
  • Time with dissatisfied Customer
  • Overdue receivables
  • Development Cost of failed product
  • Rework
  • Scrap



How to Reduce COPQ in SUPPLY CHAIN


Managers and Workers speak the Language of things but senior leaders speak the language of money…


COPQ allows us to translate the things into money.


Below are the  foursteps to reduce COPQ in Supply chain.


  • Expand the COPQ beyond manufacturing, incorporate quality measures from other supply chain functions such as plan, source, deliver and service

         - Include each and every function of Supply chain

         - Explore each and every activity and try to find waste if any

  • Employ Cost-Modelling approaches to prevent COPQ impacts before they happen


          "Measurement is the first step that leads to control and eventually to improvement. If you can’t measure something, you can’t understand it. If you can’t understand it, you can’t control it. If you can’t control it, you can’t improve it"


          So measurement of COPQ in money is very important.


  • Once the different elements of COPQ are understood, Supply chain Managers can make intelligent cost/service trade-offs that minimize COPQ across the supply, manufacturing and distribution network to achieve the customer defined level.

          - Create a matrix to monitor COPQ

          - Create KPI for individual about COPQ


  • Start maintaining data on monthly basis of COPQ in different section of Supply Chain

          - Do analysis on Monthly basis

          - Share this analysis with your team for improvement


Last but not least COPQ is journey for continuous improvement and not a destination.


     If there are any questions about COPQ, I'm always available. If you have any questions, you can shoot me an email at, and I will answer them as      well.


Good luck on your continuous improvement journey….





About Sanjay Kshirsagar



Sanjay Kshirsagar.jpg


Sanjay Kshirsagar

Supply Chain Development Manager at Henkel South Africa (Pty) Ltd

LinkedIn Profile

I interviewed Robert Kuhn who discussed Water Issues Related to Corporate Supply Chains.







Can you first provide a brief background of yourself and this topic?


Sure. Thank you for having me today. This topic interests me on a personal level because I recognize that water is really our new CO2. This is an issue that affects us all and will have profound impacts on our ability to have meaningful and healthy lives, obviously.


From a corporate perspective, I'm interested in this because as a sustainability consultant, first I need to help them identify, but I need to help them identify and address a wide range of relevant environmental and social issues, which are particularly challenging in their supply chains.


For advanced companies, some of whom are my clients, but for many, many companies beyond the leaders, we have done a lot of work around climate change. And not that I don't still do work there, but I'm increasingly asked about water issues as they crop up, not just in a company's operations, but in their supply chain. So, generally, in their suppliers, what's happening with respect to those companies’ ability to manage water issues.


So, on a professional level, it's part of my consulting practice. On a more 30,000 foot level, if you will, it's clear that in order to advance sustainability worldwide, corporations need to take a role. So, if you look at the overview of where I've been in my life, I first practiced law—not in the environmental arena, in the business arena—and then I went and ran a manufacturing company for 11 years and ended up in consulting, in the sustainability space.


In my experience as a manufacturing executive, interestingly at that point in time, water issues rarely cropped up. There was one experience we had with respect to some discharges that my company made into the sewer system. Those were dealt with very quickly. And we moved on.


At that point, water was a compliance issue. You filed reports. You made sure you weren't running afoul of the law. And if you were, you remedied what you were doing.


Today, it's such a key strategy issue for companies as they move forward, trying to be good global citizens. So, that's why I'm intrigued and how it fits with my background.


Can you talk about some of the causes of these water issues?


Water issues—there are really two—come from a variety of sources. Let me explain to two different issues. First, we're concerned about the quality of water. So, we usually call this water pollution. So, these are things we might do in a business context that end up degrading the quality of water. It may be right next to us. It may be down the road a little bit. But these are quality issue.


We also have consumption issues, which is really about the quantity of water available. Generally, we want to make sure that we're not, as a business, consuming too much water that's in an unsustainable manner. Now, those are quick definitions, and the details are a little trickier, because unlike greenhouse gas emissions, which are thought to cause climate change and are global in nature, water is a very local or regional issue. Water comes either out of aquifers that have been around for a very long time, or groundwater, if it's replenished from rain, which may come locally, or may come from snow packs, or rain that has accumulated in mountains and comes through streams.


But water issues in one area are not particularly related to those in a faraway area, except for the possibility that you could buy things to put into your business that come from one of those areas. Then you kind of buy into the water issues in one of those areas. So, we're concerned with both quality and quantity. And we're concerned with them in several areas.


We're concerned with them in the buildings and land that our businesses occupy and operate. So, there may be things that we're doing there that are problematic. So, if we have a beautiful building with a large lawn that we water all the time as our corporate headquarters, that may not be a sustainable solution. We may want to find ways to landscape our buildings in a different way that uses less water, or be able to reclaim water from maybe gutters and other onsite sources, so that we can reuse those to landscape. It's a very small, simple example.


But the more difficult examples are generally around the processes that go on in business. So, manufacturing processes, packaging processes, painting processes, chemicals that are put into pharmaceuticals all involve the use of water in that process.


The most obvious examples are the companies that sll water. So, Coca-Cola sells Coke and Dasani water and other brands sell things that actually have water in them. And that's obviously a real issue because the water need to be pure. And it needs to be not taken out in such quantities that deplete the aquifer. Because other people use that aquifer—other companies, communities. So, that becomes an issue if you as a corporation are pulling too much out and depriving others of water.


So, we could do things that do that. We could also do things that pollute. So, we may have processes in our manufacturing centers that end up discharging things into fresh water that is supposed to be used by others that ends up rendering it polluted. So, we need to be careful about that, and that really requires us to identify processes that could discharge into to water.


An example... Many of my clients are in the apparel business. And a good amount of manufacturing in apparel requires dyeing the fabric or tanning hides. Both of those processes use water. They do have consumption issues, because some of that water evaporates and gets pulled out and never reused, but they really have a lot of pollution issues. You've seen pictures of rivers in China that are associated with factories that are doing apparel work. Downstream from that river, the color for the given day is whatever they're dyeing the fabric. And that's a real problem because that makes that water unusable.


So, we're looking generally at the buildings and land and the processes—primarily manufacturing processes. But we need to go a step further. That's our own business. Those are the four walls, as we call it, of our business.


But in today's thinking, you don't only have a responsibility for what goes on in your four walls. You, in a sense, have a responsibility for what goes on in your supply chain. And there are a variety of reasons this is true. Sometimes regulations require that. Sometimes other stakeholders require it, including customers are saying, "Mr. Smith, you run company A, and we buy from you. We need to know what the water issues are in your operations and in your supply chain." So, now you need to go figure that out.


So, everything I've just talked about in the company's operations, you need to now look out into your supplier's operations. And that becomes a tremendous challenge.


What about ways to solve these issues?


The first thing you need to do is identify the issues. There's a number of tools out there that can help you calculate what's called your water footprint, which can address consumption issues. So, you will calculate how much water you're consuming and not returning. And it's also possible to do that throughout your supply chain.


And once you make those calculations, you can identify what we call hotspots, areas where you need to go and rapidly address the problems. It's a prioritization tool, basically. And when you get to the high priority areas, the first thing you want to do with regards to consumption is see if there are leaks, see if there are ways to reduce the consumption, change the process.


Coca-Cola, for example, in India, was called to the administrative offices of a territory, because the territory managers learned that Coca-Cola was using too much water. This was in their operations, not in their supply chain. But they got a call. And they were brought into the offices and they were told that they were going to lose their license to operate in that area, unless that corrected this problem.


Corrections for them, generally were around fixing leaks, finding different ways to make things more efficient with the use of water. So, for example, instead of cleaning bottles by washing them, they now use air at very high pressure, which can remove all contaminants. So they ended up using less water, and got the green light from the local authorities to continue in business.


Pollution, same way.We're going to walk through all of our water related activities. We're going to list them. We're going to get a team of managers together from our operations and from our real estate, and we're going to talk about everything that could discharge water. We may not even know about some of the processes. But hopefully, we do. And I've walked through companies with this and it actually ends up telling them about places they didn't really understand.


When we get that list together, we're going to go and look through... Generally, companies have fairly good records regarding environmental issues around discharging things in water, because most legal jurisdictions around the world have regulators that look very closely at pollution. Or, at last, they are supposed to.


So, we want to go and first of all, make sure we have remedied anything we've received a notice about. But that may be the key to finding out where some problems are. So, we want to look back through that history and see where we've actually had action items around pollution that we've had to remedy. If we don't find those, then we really have to look at every process and make sure that there aren't any discharges that cause pollution. Not all discharges cause pollution. But we need to take a look and look at the standards for water quality that are applicable in that area, and they may allow us some wiggle room, or they may not. And we need to go through that on a step-by-step basis.


And if we're going out into the supply chain, then we need to collect the information from our supplies. So, you can see it becomes very time intensive, very resource heavy, and quite expensive, actually, for companies to get a handle on this. But those are some of the tools that companies use.


And thanks, Robert, for sharing today. Do you have any final recommendations?


My final recommendation would be for a company that has done some work in other areas and not in water, to start exploring the water area and find resources on the internet, through your trade association, through local government, through the environmental regulation agency, that can help you do that.


If you have not done anything in environmental areas, I would suggest looking at water very quickly, because this is rapidly becoming the huge issue for the communities that we live in. And companies will be held accountable for their water strategies. So, start now. That's my primary advice.


Thank you for sharing.


You're very welcome.



About Robert Kuhn



Robert Khun.jpg

Robert Kuhn


Sustainability/CSR | Supply Chain | Leadership


LinkedIn Profile

I interviewed Richard Lloyd who discussed Change Issues in the Supply Chain.




Can you provide a brief background of yourself.


Sure. I'm a historian by background. My first degree was in ancient medieval history. And after doing that, I spent quite a bit of time looking around the world, trying to work out what would be a useful career. I studied languages and traveled around quite a lot of the Middle East and Spain and South American.


Eventually, I kind of realized this emerging. This was back in the early ‘90s. I realized this area of logistics and what was becoming supply chain was really a fascinating challenge. I went off and did a master's and found myself in the corporate consulting group of Unilever. I worked there for four years, mainly in Latin America.


Then I came across a company called i2 Technologies. I worked for them for 10 years doing projects around Europe with Continental Buyers, Spain, Darfur, and then up in Nokia for four years. And then, when they were bought by JDA, I left. And I spent five years looking at the area of supply [inaudible 00:01:21] and to ministries of health in Africa was in the area of Mozambique, Democratic Republic of the Congo, and Mali.


One of the observations I had there was that it was hard to change things when a Ministry of Health was running a supply chain, and I became interested in the idea of outsourcing from all of this. And at the same time, an old IT colleague of mine approached me and said, "Hey. I just joined DES, Supply Chains Under Excellence. And so, I joined that about two years ago, and now I'm a partner in supply chains [inaudible 00:01:56].


Looking at how we can do perhaps planning [inaudible 00:02:02] small organizations, and help people form their supply chains using the [inaudible 00:02:07]


Why is this subject worth looking at?


So, over my 20-old years of experience, I've seen a large number of... I would say around 50% have really failed to deliver the value that they set out to deliver. And at least 20-30% failed pretty much completely. And this is not something that, for instance, of being in the supply chain community, people talk about very widely. Certainly at conferences, we tend to hear the success stories. And I'm actually more interested in failure, because I think there's a lot of it about. You learn more from failure.


And so, I started looking into this about three or four years ago. I went the studied a master's at Oxford [inaudible 00:03:06] around change. And trying to understand what it is that makes supply chain projects to go wrong. You will see people stand up and they'll talk about their project, and they'll mention... They'll talk about change management, and they'll say very quickly, "It's change management with an issue." And then they say, "Anyway, moving on."


It's a typical thing to talk about [inaudible 00:03:27] validity [inaudible 00:03:28] often and involves emotion. And supply chain guys, being as we are, mainly a bunch of engineers, sometimes there's a lack of the language to talk about these kinds of stuff. So, it's my mission at the moment to try the introduce some psychodynamic concepts, a series of change into the supply chain discussion.


What are some of these key concepts, such as the organization and aspects of structure?


One idea that I like a lot is that there are different types of problems. So, you have critical problems where there is a pandemic, a disease, where you really need a top-down management style. But you also have something called [inaudible 00:04:21] problems. And these are the kind of problems that are never really solved. You just problems you try to ameliorate and deal with them. It could be something like, for example, the obesity trend that we're seeing at the moment.


To deal with that, top-down management doesn't really work. You can't go around and just sort of forbid people from eating. You need a much more complex series of actions to deal with that kind of problem. And these are called wicked problems. It's sort of a known concept. And there are these problems. They are the most [inaudible 00:04:59] rule. And every time you try and engage with them, you will find that you affect them, rather like the anthropologist will affect the people that he studies.


My hypothesis is that, of course, some supply chain problems absolutely are at their [inaudible 00:05:14] in a top-down manner, if you're looking, perhaps, at redesigning your network and making major sourcing decisions, there's something you can just say and it will make it so. But there are other kinds of problems where really, you need to engage the people who are actually running the supply chain and get their input into things like forecasting, operations planning, production planning in a plant. And I've seen too many programs take a top down approach.


Where have you seen some success with change in the supply chain?


I can give you an example where I worked at a company, which I can't name. It's a very large [inaudible 00:07:02] goods company. They wanted to implement [inaudible 00:07:04]. And what they found was that it's very hard to get failed [inaudible 00:07:11] on board with it. [inaudible 00:07:13] solution. And they were trying to roll it out for their downstream finished product. And in the end, it pretty much fell on its face. Lack of [inaudible 00:07:27] and the idea of complicated algorithms that their entry levels just couldn't really swallow in the organization.


Interestingly, they [inaudible 00:07:42]. We were happy working on that area. They then engaged us to do [inaudible 00:07:47] for some of their raw materials. [inaudible 00:07:53]. They had a very large inventory of a particular raw material, about 500 billion of it, raw.


And there we did [inaudible 00:08:06] and the relationship is very different. [inaudible 00:08:11] it was something that we were providing to them rather imposing of them. And it was a much more successful project. We actually managed to get it up [inaudible 00:08:23] and they now use this on a yearly basis. And I don't do it anymore, but the company that I was working for carried on, going in a doing a yearly fix for them, which is a different approach to being with the area of [inaudible 00:08:39] technology.


Do you have any final recommendations for implementing change in the supply chain?


I think the key is to have the discussions upfront. What I've seen on most programs is that when there have been large change issues, it's because there have been an unspoken issue, which could be something like people [inaudible 00:09:16] or there being a lot of politics around how capacity plant is measured, or who owns inventory. And if there are big [inaudible 00:09:31] issues about [inaudible 00:09:36] implementation of the tools [inaudible 00:09:38] process, if you don't address those issues upfront, they will always come back and bite you. You can't hide in supply chain.


If there is dysfunctional behavior driven by [inaudible 00:09:53] incongruity, this is always come out, because you can't fake it. It's either the product is there or it's not there. This is what drives a lot of strange behavior [inaudible 00:10:11] where for one reason or another, the burning issue, talk about often on projects, are the emperor's new clothes, where people are standing up to that.


A lot of this comes back to the people of the organization standing up and making a challenge of [inaudible 00:10:36]. I've seen organization that have done that and have taken [inaudible 00:10:46] years to really change the way people think about this [inaudible 00:10:50] but what you actually [inaudible 00:10:50]. But as long as supply chains is a kind of backroom activity, [inaudible 00:10:59] and it's perhaps overwritten by marketing or finance objectives, we're seeing that supply chain projects are setting out to combine the [inaudible 00:11:13] they are actually going against the current.


So, my main thing is for anybody involved in a program, you need to get in early on and have the difficult and awkward conversations upfront and be prepared to say, "We're not going to proceed because we feel there are unresolved issues here." Because there's no point in powering on with practicalities of the project when you haven't dealt with the underlying [inaudible 00:11:45].




About Richard Lloyd



Richard Lloyd.jpg



Richard Lloyd

Partner. Supply Chain Consulting. Tata Consultancy Services

LinkedIn Profile

I interviewed Romesh Gupta who discussed Supplier Relationship Management.





Can you provide a brief background of yourself?


Yeah, Dustin. The pleasure is all mine. My background is in mechanical engineering. And I started in supply chain back in 1999 with automobile manufacturing. I was working with Tata Motors. I started my career as a developmental engineer moving into operations, new product introduction. Then after, I worked in several industries in supply chain, like Sea Logistics, Michael Manufacturing, trading, MEP Contracting.


So, basically, I have a broad-based experience and exposure in different industries of supply chain.


Can you talk about the critical flows in supply chain?


Yeah, Dustin. Supply chain, at the end of the day, is all about the three critical flows, which is you have to move your goods and services to your end customers, you have the manage the information flow, and then, if you manage these two flows well, then automatically the cash flows are good. So, my three-month contract for supply chain is efficient flow of goods and services, good flow of information in the entire chain, from customers customer to supplier supplier, and efficient cash flow.


Can you talk about why is SRM so critical today and the key drivers for managing?


I would like to give a little bit of background about supplier relationship and its relationship with supply chain. This subject is not given too much prominence in industry, because normally, when we are dealing with suppliers, we take them for granted. But today I would like to say that investing in this relationship is critical if you want to improve profitability and drive growth. Some of the key factors which are leading us to invest in this relationship is our product life cycles are getting shorter and shorter, which means our time to market is less. So, unless you invest in your supplier relationship, with will be late to the market.


There are several industries which are fully reliant on suppliers. And good relationship is a differentiator in the market.


The second point is innovation and disruption. In modern times, innovation is very fast. And it's costly for an organization to develop all the capabilities in house. So, it's common sense that you should invest in your supply. You should always reach out to the suppliers who are having the best technology so that you can integrate their technology and their know-how, and you can be a better innovator in the marketplace.


The third point is, of course, globalization. Our supply chains are getting longer and longer, thanks information technology, which has shortened the barrier between suppliers and us. So, it becomes imperative for us to invest in this relationship and reach out to the suppliers. And it doesn't necessarily mean that [inaudible 00:03:53] supplier. We should also reach out to our suppliers also, because that makes your chain stronger, and you have better visibility also.


What are some of the key things that you can do for supplier relationship management?


I would like to say that it's very... We can focus on three Vs of supply chain, because that will make it simple and easy for people to understand. The three Vs are visibility, velocity, and variability. So, we should make of our relationship with our supplier so that our processes are more visible. For example, we can try to have integration of our operations with our supplier, which means we can share our strategic plan, demand plan, our new product introduction. So the better integration we have with our suppliers, the better response we will get from them.


Second would be our across functional collaboration. If we can collaborate with our suppliers and use their capabilities, we can create more value for our products and services. I can site from my own personal and professional experience. We were developing our light commission [inaudible 00:05:26] application on light commercial rep, and our time to market was very short. We had to market this product in three months. At that point in time, we brought in the supplier who was with us in the market study and then in the prototyping stage. And the supplier was with us up to the testing and launch of the product, and the product was very successful.


And to me, one of the main factors why we were successful was we had cross-functional relationship with the supplier.


A third point I would like to highlight is traditionally in supply chain, they're talking about sales and operations planning where we saying that we should have internal collaboration and integration. What I would like to take it forward. If companies can integrate up backward with their suppliers, in their sales and operations planning, I think we can it [inaudible 00:06:29] and it can improve the bottom line of the [inaudible 00:06:34].


Why should you invest in SRM?


The reason why we should invest in SRM is first of all, I would like to clarify that. We should not consider SRM as any software. Rather we should consider SRM as, instead, a tool to elevate the strength of our suppliers. So, the better the [inaudible 00:07:05] and the relationship we have with the supplier, we will have more resources at our command, at the lower price point, at a lower cost point. And then we can use those capabilities and resources to face our customers and face the [inaudible 00:07:24].


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


I would like to say we're talking about ERT and information tools, which are at our command. And we are mostly focusing on using these tools forward in the chain of trying to integrate with our customers or customer's customer.


But I see a lot of value in having these tools even integrated backwards with our suppliers, which to my experience and knowledge, we have not explored it to the fullest potential. And if we can do that, I think, as I have mentioned in the beginning, the information flow smooths out, and that will facilitate the movement of goods and services in the chain. So, I think one of the key things we can look forward to is having our [inaudible 00:08:31] systems integrated with our suppliers.




About Romesh Gupta



romesh gupta.jpg



Romesh Gupta, BE,CSCP,SCOR-P

Head of Supply Chain|UAE|Oman

LinkedIn Profile

I interviewed Dr. Marc Sniukas who discussed Dr. Marc New Book on Strategy for Executives.





Nice to speak to you, Dr. Marc. Can you first provide a brief background of yourself before we start the interview?


Yeah, sure. My name is Marc Sniukas. I'm European.I'm based in Luxembourg, Europe. My expertise is in strategic innovation and corporate entrepreneurship, so I work with companies to renew themselves, to develop innovative strategies, breakthrough business models, and new revenue models. And I do this on a global scale.


And the experiences from the last couple of years and also my research on how companies create new business models—my doctoral research which I did at the Manchester Business School—led to a new book.


Can you talk about the book? What is it about?


Yeah, sure.So, the book is called the The Art of Opportunity, How to Build Growth and New Ventures through Strategic Innovation and Visual Thinking. The book is, first of all, about a new approach to strategy. Traditional strategy is all about how to position yourself, so you can be a low cost player, or you could focus on a niche. We talk about strategy as discovering and seizing new opportunities for growth. So, we go a little bit away from that. You have to position yourself, but rather look at how can you discover opportunities for new growth, and how can you seize these opportunities with innovative new strategies.


A recent example, just today in the news it was announced that Apple did not hit its growth target, or its revenues are actually going down. So, for the first time since 2003, I think. So, that's a typical example of where the book would come in. If you can't grow anymore from your established core business, where can you find opportunities for new growth outside of that established business?


Why is this book on strategy different?


The difference is, as I said, first of all there's a different take on strategy. So, it's about sensing and seizing niche opportunities. So, we go into... Typically, a traditional strategy is concerned with where to play, which is then a combination of a product market mix. You choose a product, and then you go into a market, or you choose a market, and then you try to position your product.


How to win in traditional strategies is all about either you have to differentiate or you have to be low cost or, as we have seen also with new takes on strategy, like [inaudible 00:02:46] for example, trying to combine value for the customer the low cost for the company.


Now, in the book, The Art of Opportunity, we talk about where to play, and we talk about finding new growth opportunities by looking at existing customers and their customer experience, looking into what makes it a good customer experience, or what are the barriers to good customer satisfaction. And we talk about very strongly, looking at non-customer. So, looking at people who can't or aren't willing to buy your product, and to look into what are their needs, what is their job to be done, and what could be a customer experience that turns them into actual customers. So, we have many examples. One of them is the leading German TV company, ProSieben, for example. They looked at who doesn't buy TV advertising from us. And typically, it's startups and small companies, because first of all, they cannot afford to spend the money on TV advertising. They might not have the cash. Cash is gone, so they don't want to invest or spend the money on something where there is an unsecure return, and they simply don't have the experience of working with that.


So, ProSieben looked at what is the business model, and what kind of strategy can we offer so that we can turn startups and small and medium companies into customers. So, make it attractive to them, reduce the risk for them, while at the same time, keeping our profit margins high. And they came up with a model which allows to invest, where they invest with media for equity and media for revenue share, for example, into startups.


So, this is the where to play. The how to play, we talk about developing new strategy, designing your strategy, and designing your strategy for us means you need to design the offering, which is a combination of your product, your services, and your customer experience. Than you need to design your business models. So, basically, all the activities that you carry out, and how are you going to carry them out, how are you going to collaborate with partners in your ecosystem. And it's also about designing your revenue model. The revenue model, again, is then a combination of your choices in terms of revenue streams, pricing mechanisms, and also payment mechanism.


And then, the third element we go into is how to win. So, as I said earlier, traditional strategy is about you win by either being low cost or by differentiating or maybe by combining these two things. And we talk about creating value for, obviously, for the customer, but also creating value for your company. And this really can go beyond simply being cheaper or having lower costs. There are strategic value, there's operational value, there is financial value.


And we also talk about creating value for your ecosystem. So, the partners that you have.


So, this is a new take on strategy in terms of the content, let's say. Then we also, for a new take on strategy regarding the process. So, typically strategy process is all about first you do an analysis, and then you plan, and then you implement. And we offer an iterative process on what we call inception phase, and evolution phase, and the diffusion phase. So, basically, you have three phases that new ventures need to go through. And as you go through these phases, the maturity and sophistication of strategy, it increases step by step.


So, this is more about the content of the book. And then I think what is also different is how we did the book and what the book looks like. So, first of all, the book is based on, as I said earlier, professional experience and also academic research. So, it's not just ideas we have. It's not something theoretical and conceptual. It's something that companies do, and it's something leading edge companies practice at the moment.


And at the same time, there was this conceptual level. And at the same time, we're going very deep into offering activities that companies can do. You can do it with your team. You can do it on your own. So, we offer workshop activities to discover new customer groups. For example, we offer activities for designing your strategy. We offer a bunch of posters, templates, inspiration cards that you can use to visualize the result of your efforts.


So, that's three things, let's say, make it different. Different concepts, different process, and going down into very detailed activities that you can do.


Who should care most about this book?


The primary target audience is obviously CEO level, CXO-level people, people that are in charge of the development of their companies. And also, everybody who's into responsible for strategy, responsible for [inaudible 00:07:46] development, responsible for product development. And also everybody who's responsible for new business development. So, basically, if you have anything to do with strategy, with your offering, your business model, if you're in charge of business development, growing your business revenues, then this is the book for you.


The book was actually more written for corporates, so for established companies, not so much for startups. Although, we can learn a lot from it, but the primary audience is really established larger companies looking into how they can find new growth and build new growth ventures.


Do you have any final recommendations on how to take action for people who are looking for new growth opportunities?


Yeah. In the book we talk about using design thinking, or what we call business design thinking as kind of the mindset that you need to get going. So, this includes kind of a new way of working, let's say. It's all about assembling the right team and giving them some education on what this new take on strategy looks like and how you can be strategically innovative. And then applying design-thinking principles. So, to the classic ones like keeping a human-centered focus.So, as I said, innovation starts with the customer, but human-centered focus is also about the team and how you collaborate internally.


The second point would be to think visually and to tell stories. So, all about using visual methods to better structure your ideas, to visualize your ideas, to better communicate your opportunity and your strategy and how you’re going to seize the opportunity.


The third principle is all about working and co-creating collaboratively. So, again, internally looking at larger...Or trying to establish across disciplinary teams. So, don't think too much into silos.


The fourth one is active iterations. So, as I said, it's not a linear process of first analyze, then plan, then implement. It's really an active iteration process of you have an idea, you implement the idea, you see how it works, you learn from your experience, and then you design the next version of your strategy, so to say. And you try it again.


And the fifth principle would be to try to maintain a holistic perspective. So, as I said, creating value is not only for the customer or for your company, but also for your ecosystem, and you might want to look more holistically at your customers, the customer experience, your total offering business model and revenue model instead of only focusing on either, here we have a customer and this is the product we're going to sell them.


Thanks, Marc, for sharing today on your new book.


Thank you. You're welcome.


Thank you.


Thanks for the invitation.



About Dr. Marc Sniukas



marc sniukas.jpg



Dr. Marc Sniukas


Luxembourg | Management Consulting


LinkedIn Profile

I interviewed Ashish Mendiratta who discussed Supply Chain Competencies.





Supply chain competencies, one of the key challenges of organizations are facing today, reasons being the business environment has changed dramatically over the last few years. We have seen the companies introducing many new products into the market, the emergence of ecommerce and omnichannel that have made life complex for everyone.


The technology has changed the way the business is being conducted, the way consumers buy products. So, in a nutshell, there is huge amount of reliability and unpredictability on one hand and complexity of managing the operations on the other.


However, companies have not focused on developing capability of people in supply chain to handle these challenges. People continue to operate in outdated linear fashion, where the supply chain flows used to happen sequentially.


The word is the consumers or the customers are unhappy, and the cost of bringing business is significantly high.


Therefore, some of the few capabilities which are very important in the current business environment are... The first one is the supply chain analytics - be it on the demand side or on the supply side or understanding where the money of the companies being spent and how it's being spent is really, really critical. In fact, given the kind of madness that is there in terms of unpredictability and reliability, and logistics is one such tool which can bring some method to this madness.


The next capability, which is acquired the supply chain people is deep business acumen. Most of the supply chain people think in different layers of demand, cost, inventory, etc. They do not have one complete view of the business, one completely integrated view of the business. And they do not apply the systems thinking approach.


So, their decisions are short term, and they are not really adding value to the business.


The next capability, which is acquired, is developing strategic relationships. Given the fact that supply chain really are the network of the organization, working as close partners, developing and nurturing relationships will enable seamless flows across your organization is very, very important.


The next capability for supply chain people is to be able to execute plans efficiently. We're seeing that companies make really good plans, but they're not executed the way it is supposed to be. So, this execution capability requires a careful balance between creating operating rhythm, like standard operating procedures, as well as being flexible without exposing the organization to major risk.


Finally, another capability which has become really important of late is managing supply chain risk and sustainability. Now, this capability is very, very important, because over the long run, we have seen that supply chain people have actually caused a major harm as a trade off to a shortened win. So, every decision a supply chain practitioner takes, needs not only to be seen through a lens of cost and service, but it also has to pass through the idea of sustainability.


So, these are a few important capabilities in the current business environment. The next question is what is the right way to develop these the competencies.


Traditionally, what we have seen is the approach which is adopted by the companies to conduct some training programs in the classroom, which is completely ineffective, and it has done nothing to the organization, added no value to the individuals as well.


What we follow in terms of the approach for competency developing is a three-phase approach. The first phase is the knowledge phase. The knowledge can be best delivered to the individuals using technology platform, like elearning, or providing them the learning material. You don't need to bring those individuals to the classroom to teach them the basic know-how. The adults learn best on their own, provided they are given the right learning material.


So, once the knowledge has been acquired by the individual, the next stage is the develop their skills. And this is best done by bringing the individuals into classroom or workshop and help them to apply the knowledge to certain situations using tools like simulations, exercises, role plays, and case studies.


So, it helps them to apply the knowledge in day-to-day real life cases. Having practiced the concepts in the workshop and developing those skills, the next phase is to assign them the light project on the job.


So, once the projects have been assigned, they are pushed the maintained by the subject matter experts, as well as the managers, to help them to achieve measurable results, as part of your projects.


This approach is highly effective, not only for the organizations or the companies. But it also raises the engagement level of people.





About Ashish Mendiratta



Ashish Mendiratta.jpg

Ashish Mendiratta


Founder at Advanchainge, Director at Thinklink

Supply Chain Services


LinkedIn Profile

I interviewed Julio Franca who discussed Supply Chain and Complexity Management.





Can you please provide a bit of context for complexity management within Supply Chain?


- Customers are increasingly demanding more customised solutions in terms of products and services

- This brings a significant additional complexity to the operations

- Supply Chain is the area that needs to deliver them at the end of the day with higher and higher service level expectations

- This directly impacts all areas of the extended S/Chain: customer service, transportation, warehousing, manufacturing, planning (demand and supply), procurement


What types of complexity do you deal with?


- Portfolio/SKUs

- Materials/Ingredients

- Packaging

- Formulations

- Number of Suppliers/3PM’s

- Distribution Channels

- # Customers

- you name it


What is the role of supply chain in managing complexity?


- S/Chain must be the business partner to support the business taking better solutions whilst managing complexity

- It is not necessarily about reducing complexity, but proactively managing it

- S/Chain must provide data, analysis and solutions to reduce the complexity in a proactive way

- In that sense, the leadership role of S/Chain is crucial once it needs to be able to work cross-functionally with a wide range of stakeholders within the business, with different interests and incentives

- S/Chain must not only look at the already existing complexity in the business, but also ensure that the new product launch / innovation go to the market taking into consideration the right approach for complexity management


What is the difference between complexity management vs complexity reduction?


- That is a good question

- Generally S/Chain position that complexity must be reduced. This cause in most cases a considerable push back from the business, especially from marketeers who at the end of the day are primarily accountable for managing the portfolio

- Complexity must be managed, proactively, instead of reduced only

- This means harmonising specs, simplifying / merging SKUs, working collaboratively with suppliers, etc


How to position supply chain as an entity to manage complexity business wide?


- This is another very interesting questions

- Generally I experience 3 main approaches:

  • Approach 1 is when the CEO / Company Board determines a complexity reduction target and empower S/Chain to make it happen. This is the top down approach, works really well in terms of pace of implementation, but It is hard to manage as the approach is typically ‘do it’ rather than ‘getting into a consensus that is the best thing to be done)
  • Approach 2 is the bottom up, i.e., S/Chain map the existing and future complexity and works collaboratively with the various areas of the business (especially Marketing and R&D) to make it happen. It takes a little bit of more time, but results are more sustainable over time
  • Approach 3 is a blend of Approach 1 and 2, what I call Middle Out, i.e., S/Chain has a mandate from the Board to reduce/manage complexity, but works collaboratively with the various areas involved.
  • It is important to mention that in all approaches, it is crucial to define and formalize targets for complexity management and links into to the individual targets and remuneration of the key stakeholders involved. 


How to tackle complexity management in the context of product launch / innovation?


- I like to use the Lego approach, i.e., enabling New Product Launch by using a set of already existing components from a ‘tool-box’. This can be for example a box with 3000 ingredients / packaging / formulations / etc.

- In case of new elements are needed, then one existing one, out of the 3000 elements, must be replaced by the new one.

- In short, this is the ONE-IN, ONE-OUT concept.

- Lego has been extremely successful in adopting this concept with unquestionable discipline. This has been recognised even as one of the key drivers for their turnaround process few years ago. They were struggling lots with the increasing complexity of their business.

- At the end of the day, Growing the Business doesn’t necessarily means Growing Complexity. The best organizations out there manage it with a high degree of sophistication and discipline. You can think about Apple, Amazon, Lego, Unilever, P&G, etc


Can you please provide us with some example and highlights on recent case studies?


- Well, over the 10 years, I have been involved, and leading,  in many of these projects

- I will briefly tackle 2 examples

- Example 1 is a Food Manufacturer who mergered 3 companies into 1, due to acquisitions, over less than 1 years, and ended up with a portfolio of 1.500 SKUs, in very similar product categories. My role was to analyse the portfolio considering financial, operational and markets aspects and reduce the portfolio down to 500 SKUs, whilst still growing the business.

- Example 2 was a FMCG manufacturer with 30.000 SKUs, who wanted to reduce complexity in Europe by 40% in a period over 2 years. This involved over 20 countries operating In more than 10 product categories each. The key levers were harmonization and simplification of the portfolio, raw and pack materials, formulations, S/Chain blueprint, among others

- As you can imagine the change management and leadership required is very considerable and we have worked with both clients to bring the expertise, data management and programme leadership.


Can you please provide an overview about Julio Franca and Spin Consulting?


- Of course! My name is Julio Franca, I have been working in S/Chain and Procurement over the last 20 years in many industries, geographies and areas of S/Chain

- I am one of the partners of Spin Consulting, a niche S/Chain consultancy focused in delivering tangible, quick and sustainable results for our clients.

- Please visit us at www.spinconsulting .net or drop me an email at in case you wish to further discuss

- Thanks for the opportunity Dustin and many congratulations for your excellent work!





About Julio Franca



Julio Franca.jpg


Julio Franca

Director at Spin Consulting

LinkedIn Profile

I interviewed Hans Groen who discussed The Atypical Position of Operations Rooms Within the Hospital Supply Chain.





Can you provide a brief background about yourself?


Well, I have my educational background in logistics and performance management. I have a degree in logistic business administration. At first, I worked a couple of years, just regular jobs for companies such as Netlight. And for over 25 years now, I'm an independent management consultant with the field of expertise in supply chain and performance management. Performance management is then specifically increasing the improving the efficiency and effectiveness of organizations throughout your organization. So, that can involve any type of project, any type of department on that.


What is the atypical position of operation's rooms within the hospital supply chain?


The important thing is they are in the center of the healthcare within a hospital. And they are the most important department when it comes to generating revenue for the hospital. And let's say the atypical thing about an operating room is that, due to the fact that they are the most important part of generating money for the hospital, they really pull and push at the same time to the other departments in order to process as many operations as they can. And that is different, atypical from a supply chain, because normally on a supply chain, you have on one side, your customer who is pulling at the organization for its demands. And on the other side of the supply chain, normally you have suppliers who are pushing their supplies into the supply chain in order to get it to the patient.


They are in the center, and they are deciding, they are steering the entire supply chain, but at such a pace that most internal supply chains of hospitals are not able to keep up with it. And that's one of the major challenges for hospitals, because if they balance their production, if an operating room balance their production based on the demand and on the capacity of the healthcare departments, they have to decrease their speed. And they have to decrease the number of operations they are performing.


And with that, of course, you get a lower revenue.


So, that's the big issue, the big challenge with operating rooms. I hope it's a bit clear.


What are your recommendations?


Well, the problem... What we're trying do now... There are two ways you can approach this. One side, the regular care departments, the regular health departments, either speed up, they become efficient so they can actually process the patients towards the operating and process patient's coming off the operating room, recovery departments, because that's one part. That's one thing you can do.


And other thing is actually lower the number of operations that is performed on a daily basis, harmonized with the capacity with the healthcare departments. But that's a difficult tradeoff question because you're lowering your revenue without actually reducing your costs. But for the quality of the supply chain, and especially for a more balanced line, better supply chain within the hospital, it would be the better recommendation.


But then again, you get into the financial aspects of it, and that's where most hospitals have problems making their decision, first of all, to make their times calculations and to look at these kinds of trade offs, they're going to want to do as many operations as we can and have an occupants rate on the operating rooms of at least 90-95%.But the rest of the supply chain cannot keep up with that kind of pace.


So, we're looking at, first of all, balancing from the operating, balancing and harmonizing their supply chain, and on the other side, how can we increase the efficiency and the effectiveness of the regular healthcare departments? And that's quite a challenge because, of course, the healthcare departments have different kinds of goals. Their much more focused on treating the patients in the most human way and the most friendly way, spending a lot of time with patients to make them feel comfortable that they have enough attention and so on. They're not really focused on the process of the operating rooms. They're much more focused on the customer satisfaction.


And there's also a quality trade off. At that time, how do you look upon your patient? Are they just a product that needs to go through the hospital supply chain, or is the patient actually a customer who you need to treat in the best possible way.So, that's also quality trade off at that point.



About Hans Groen



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Hans Groen

Sr Professional Supply Chain & Performance Management

LinkedIn Profile

I interviewed Rodney Apple who discussed How Companies Can Up Their Game When It Comes to Recruiting Top Supply Chain Talent.




Can you provide a brief background of yourself?


Absolutely, Dustin. Thank you so much for inviting me to participate in this interview. So, I've been recruiting for over 20 years with the last 15 plus years in end-to-end supply chain. And I'd say I’ve spent over half of this time on the corporate side, working for some pretty large corporations that include the Coca-Cola Company, Kimberly-Clark, The Home Depot, Cummins and PwC. Now I lead SCM Talent Group which is a national supply chain recruiting and executive search firm that recruits across the full spectrum of the supply chain discipline.


I have personally filled over a thousand professional to executive-level supply chain positions across the country, everything from sourcing &procurement to logistics, transportation, warehousing and inventory planning. Have down quite a bit in the manufacturing sector as well and customer service and so forth. So, I have a fairly seasoned background in supply chain recruitment that runs pretty deep and pretty broad. And I look forward to speaking to how companies can improve how they go about sourcing and recruiting top supply chain talent.


Can you first tell us where you find talent?


Sure. That's a great question. Over the years, we have been developing a database of candidates. We've put a lot of investment into what I would call internet marketing. So, everything from developing a robust website that attracts candidates to blogging and developing and distributing content. I actually serve as the career coach for APICS so I put together a lot of content for them such as webinars and white papers on just about every aspect of supply chain career development.


And so, we get a lot of good referrals through those efforts. We belong to the major supply chain associations as well. We definitely tap into the associations, the membership directories, getting out and about with association chapter meetings and so forth. We don't do a lot of advertising as this typically doesn’t yield the best quality and quantity of candidates. We typically will develop a customized sourcing strategy for every single search that we accept and that includes developing a target list of companies and target industries that we can tap into. So, once we put that list together, it's basically just having an omnichannel sourcing approach to reaching out to these candidates, whether it's through email, phone, text, connecting on LinkedIn and so forth.


So, those are kind of the primary sources that we use and then we also pay for some databases through and other tools. I like to use the word "omnichannel." That's a pretty popular term in the supply chain/logistics arena. We have the same concept when it comes to sourcing talent. And I think companies need to really start to think outside of the box. You can't just get away with posting positions and sitting back and waiting for candidates to come to you. You absolutely need to put together a sourcing strategy that includes a lot of different channels on how you can reach out and network with people and so forth.


What challenges have you seen with talent acquisition?


I have seen a lot of challenges and a lot of companies making the same mistakes when it comes to supply chain recruitment. I like to look at things from a people, process and systems perspective as it relates to talent acquisition strategy and programs. It's imperative that you understand from an overall business perspective, where have we been, where are we at now, and where are we trying to go as it relates to hiring and putting together a plan and partnership with the business leaders and HR leaders.


So, you have to kind of set that baseline. What's our growth trajectory? What's our retention? What kind of attrition do we have? And then from there, making sure you have the right resources in place. When I say resources, that comes down to having very, very good people when it comes to talent sourcers and recruiters that can drive the process and results.


If I was to hire someone in supply chain recruiting, I would definitely want someone that has a strong network, that understands supply chain, because obviously, it's a very complex field. And I think it definitely helps to understand the terminology and to be able to size up candidates and assess candidates, you really need to understand all aspects of supply chain.


So, it starts with getting really good, talented people. You get what you pay for.


I would also emphasize the process too. You want to have a streamlined recruitment hiring process. The less touch points, the better. Because the more touch points you have, the more things that can fall through the cracks. You can create a pretty frustrating candidate experience that, instead of attracts candidates, could deter candidates. So, you want to streamline it and make it exciting. Make sure you're not just asking the candidate questions. You need to be selling the opportunity as well. Because right now it is a candidate driven market with supply chain and the talent gaps that we have.


And then on the systems side, it's extremely important to have a robust applicant tracking system (ATS). Again, the less clicks, the better. I've worked with some pretty awful recruitment systems in the past. So you want to put in some really good technology. You'll definitely get that return back on the investment. So, think top-level people, a streamlined process, and a very robust recruitment system. And in addition to that, paying for tools, like the LinkedIn recruiter package, which we subscribe to here, and any other databases that you can get your hands on. And that also includes joining and participating in supply chain associations, being active members, getting out into the local chapters and whatnot.


So, I see companies making these mistakes with just having too big of a process, too many touch points, too many bottlenecks, inadequate systems and so forth. And then, especially on the people side, not having good enough sourcers and recruiters. They like to think, "Do more with less." And you really just can't afford to take that chance. Because if you can't get enough people in your supply chain, in the operations and so forth, you're going to have customer service issues, and that's going to cost a lot more money down the road in losses in terms of revenue, customers and productivity.


The companies that invest in their talent acquisition programs also need to have strong leadership involvement, even from the CEO down, with a focus on putting in strong employee referral programs. These are the companies that do very well and don't have any problems when it comes to finding and hiring supply chain talent.


Can you share some of the mistakes you've seen companies making?


Absolutely. I can even give you some examples. I won't name any company names, but I think when you look at supply chain and compare it to other corporate functions, you've got HR, you've got finance, you've got IT, sales, marketing, and so forth. Many talent acquisition or HR leaders don’t quite understand how difficult and complex supply chain can be to recruit for compared to most other core functions.


A good example is if you're recruiting for Human Resources, you might have a handful of job profiles. The majority of those positions are going to be based in the corporate office, whereas supply chain—at least from my experience with some of these large corporations—I could easily have 30 to 40 openings at any given time. Every single job title is different. The job levels are different. And a lot of these positions are out in the operations all over the country. So, you have that geographical complexity on top of the functional complexity and in a very scarce talent market. So, if you don't put enough resources in place to where you can be proactively sourcing candidates, what happens is you become reactive. And a lot of things are going to fall through the cracks. You're not going to have to enough bandwidth to go out and source candidates. You're going to be funneling candidates that come in through job postings.


So, get the right people in place. That is priority number one. Go find the best supply chain recruiters that you can find. Many companies just don't do that. They think they can hand it over to anyone. And it takes time to develop the network and understanding of what supply chain is, again, because it is very complex. So on the people side, that’s where I see mistakes.


I would also add to that, and we talked about the process a minute ago, just adding too many touch points to the process can create problems. I've seen companies make the mistake of asking the recruiter to do everything from scheduling interviews to walking candidates around, from interview room to interview room. And that just sucks a lot of time away when the recruiter should be focused on value-added work: Going out and finding candidates and getting them into the process.


So, investing in having a staffing coordinator or some kind of administrative support is key. Let the recruiter focus his or her time on developing relationships with clients as well as candidates, and especially going out and sourcing candidates.


So, the organizational structure, the process side, that seems to be where a lot of companies make mistakes. And then on the systems side, I've worked with my fair share of awful, horrific recruitment systems where you have to click through a lot of screens, do a lot of data entry, etc. Some of these systems are extremely outdated. They're not connected to social media or enable employee referrals. So, I think you need to go in and always evaluate from a technology and systems perspective what is the best package out there. Because that can absolutely give you a competitive advantage.


Do you have any suggestions for improving the recruitment program?


Absolutely. It truly needs to start with the things that we talked about obviously. I've emphasized the importance of building a robust talent acquisition program with strong people, processes, and systems. That's just one aspect. I think investing into employment marketing initiatives is important as well so you’re attracting and driving the right candidates to your company. You want to give recruiters as many tools as possible for them to go out and source top talent. Invest into the supply chain associations and conferences as well. Send recruiters out to APICS, CSCMP and other global supply chain conferences and chapter meetings. Because getting out and about, building relationships with supply chain professionals ultimately creates the relationships needed to tap into for referrals and candidate leads.


I would say the biggest source of hires is candidate referrals. So, it's imperative to put together a robust referral program that employees can participate in. I think that needs to be driven from the CEO down. Getting employees active, making sure they understand what kind of openings exist within the various departments, and enabling them to be proactive when it comes to seeking out referrals is a best practice. With social media, it's pretty easy with the click of a few buttons to share positions on your LinkedIn feed, Twitter, and whatnot. So, I think it's important to do that and perhaps provide an incentive to motivate employees to generate referrals. Maybe it's a trip to the Bahamas for a week or some kind of a cash incentive for the person that generates to most referrals and hires. That's a great way to get involvement.



About Rodney Apple



Rodney Apple.jpg



Rodney Apple

Managing Partner - Supply Chain Recruiting & Executive Search | APICS Career Coach

LinkedIn Profile