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logistics.jpgAt APICS Inland Empire's recent executive panel and networking symposium on "Navigating the Global Supply Chain", we had some intriguing discussions on the hot topics in global supply chains. Wouldn't you know, even with a complex, technical topic like this one, people are #1!

Start with your employees. As I said while leading a webinar on "Onshoring Profits" earlier today, I've never seen "happy customers" with "unhappy employees". Have you? Thus, clearly starting there is cornerstone in navigating the supply chain.

However, this step is not enough. We must expand to collaborating with your supply chain partners. Your supply chain is only as strong as your weakest link. Thus, it is worthwhile to collaborate, share information and find ways to elevate your supply chain. Again, this starts with people. Do they know how to talk with one another? Do they understand cultural norms? How about language barriers? Or, let's start simple — do we pick up the phone? I hope so!

The key to success of any person, department, company or extended supply chain goes back to people. For example, the best ideas die if not communicated effectively. The best suppliers will not work with people unwilling to think win-win and collaborate for success. Customers will not think about what would help your success if you don't tell them about your business objectives — and ask how you can help them achieve theirs. Your transportation partners might not prioritize your shipment when natural disasters occur. Is your 3PL in sync with you? They are an interface with your customer. Remember, no matter the topic, consider people your #1 asset.

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I've been going to the Hotel del Coronado for Thanksgiving dinner the last few years — it is simply amazing! The Del is certainly a historical landmark — and has been since it was built in 1888. They do a nice job of preserving the history of the Del while also keeping it modern and attractive to guests. I love the skating rink during the holiday season as I used to competitively ice skate when I was a child, and it reminds me of my history. Here is a view from the back — anyone driving up to this masterpiece knows it from afar!


Hotel Del Coronado.jpg

One tip to implement this week:


What historical significance does your company have? Although I worked for a company that was part of a historical site, there aren't too many. However, there must be something that ties your company to its founders or the town. Find out. It could be an interesting story — for you and your customers.


Who doesn't like to stand for something important? Think about how you can bring the historical importance of your company, its founders and even long-term employees to life. What could you start today that could be the beginning of a tradition?   


Looking for more ideas to keep your supply chain connected? Access more tips and resources on my blog. And keep connected by subscribing to my newsletter and email feed of “I’ve Been Thinking…”


Crowdsourcing Is In

Posted by lisaanderson Nov 22, 2016

crowd sourcing.jpgIn asking questions about outsourcing, insourcing and near-sourcing of the executive panel at APICS Inland Empire's Symposium, we heard several great stories. One of them was compelling about the value of crowdsourcing.

Crowdsourcing is the practice of engaging a 'crowd' or group for a common goal — often innovation, problem solving, or efficiency. It is powered by new technologies, social media and web 2.0.

It is simply amazing as to what can be achieved with these out-of-the-box strategies. Many big name companies who can put "big bucks" behind their efforts have found that they can achieve far more with crowdsourcing than they can solely with employees alone. Certainly, cash-constrained smaller companies would have a significant challenge funding this expertise. Yet it isn't all about cost. Innovation and new ideas emerge in these settings.

It is worth considering at least being aware of the power of crowdsourcing. Crowdsourcing can apply to all business and social interactions and so it can apply to almost all aspects of business — hiring, research, manufacturing, marketing, etc. Our panelists talked about how it has been used successfully in R&D and software design. Leveraging these types of collaborative practices and tools create disruption and spur innovation. It is definitely a topic to keep your eye on!


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While in Japan last week, I had the opportunity to ride the bullet train three times — and, even waited to go back to Tokyo from Mt. Fuji to see it whiz past since you cannot see it in action in Tokyo as a terminal station — simply amazing and FAST! The bullet train travels at over 300 kph. They always arrive on time and they are neat, organized, efficient, and safe. They account for potential earthquakes, etc. 


We can certainly learn something from this engineering and service feat. And if that wasn't enough, I learned that they have been testing a bullet train that goes 600 kph. It has been in the works for 10 years with several left to go. Innovation at its best.


Japanese bullet train.jpg


One tip to implement this week:


Are you thinking about what might be needed 10 years out? Certainly, if you ask your customers, they might not be thinking about trains that go at 600 kph. Although I surprisingly couldn't tell I was traveling at 300 kph, I wouldn't think I needed to double it. Yet, I'm sure I'd be happy to get from point A to point B in half the time in today's Amazon-impacted marketplace. Either way, breakthrough technology will have many uses. 


In thinking about how to apply the bullet train concept this week, take a few hours out of your schedule for thinking 10+ years down-the-line. What do you think your customers might want? Bring in your top people. Assemble experts. Get ahead of the curve in thinking about the future and how your products, people, processes and culture will need to change.


Looking for more ideas to keep your supply chain connected? Access more tips and resources on my blog. And keep connected by subscribing to my newsletter and email feed of “I’ve Been Thinking…”

supply chain links.jpgSupply chain risks abound! Just look at the recent bankruptcy of Hanjin. It created havoc in the global supply chain. Ships were virtually stranded on the water. No one knew how they'd get paid. Customers still needed the product. And so the results were scary. Have you thought about these types of risks within your supply chain?


At our APICS Inland Empire executive panel and networking symposium, we had a panel of experts on navigating the global supply chain. A renowned international business attorney brought up a significant topic — what if a conflict brews in the South China sea? Your supply chain could stop in its tracks. What backup plans do you have?


How about natural disasters? We cannot control these but they have a BIG impact on our supply chain. Think about hurricanes, earthquakes, fires, volcanoes and many others. Unfortunately, they seem to occur at an increasing rate — or at least they quickly go viral. Recently, there was a fire along the 15 freeway in Southern CA on the road towards Las Vegas and the north. It created havoc beyond trucks stranded on the freeway. Manufacturers ran short on materials. Railroads and trucks were re-routed. Customers had to air freight if speed was essential. It even impacted the ports.


And there are many other risks. Security is a big topic alone. The bottom line is you must prepare for these risks. What will you do to ensure business continues?


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I am in Japan this week meeting with my global board of advisors group to discuss 2017 strategy and business trends. Since I have never been to Japan, I decided to take a few days in advance to see the sights. Following the advice of the member of this group who lives in Japan, I stayed at the Shangri-La. The service is simply amazing!


First, they met me at the train station to walk me back to the hotel — not just at the train station but at the specific car I was riding in. Next, they checked me into my room inside my room so I could be comfortable. Of course the room had nice chocolates and other treats of significance in Tokyo and this amazing view (see below):

Shangri-La Hotel Tokyo.jpg


And it didn't end there. Anything I needed, they literally jumped to service. They walked me directly to the concierge since I was so busy before the trip, I had done close to no planning except for what a friend and colleague provided. I signed up for 3 all-day tours, and, of course, a hotel employee walked me to the meeting point on a daily basis to make sure I didn't have any issues and so that they could coordinate my every need. I have to is easy to get spoiled at such a hotel!


One tip to implement this week:


What are you doing to provide this level of service to your customers? Are you providing what they have asked for or what they would love if they knew to ask for it? For example, I had no idea I needed someone to walk me to my tour (and truly I don't think I "needed" it on the third day but they made it so easy, I just followed along). Perhaps you should start by thinking about what would make your service stand out from the crowd? What would you like if you were a customer? What would be on your mind? That might help you think about what would be most helpful. 


And, remember, there is NO way these Shangri-La employees would provide me with such exceptional service is they didn't enjoy their job. Are you taking care of your employees? Do they know how important service is to you? No matter what you SAY; they will follow how you ACT. Think about what your actions are saying.


If you are an employee and don't feel like you have control over your customers, do not despair. You have FAR more control than you think. Figure out who your customers are (perhaps the department that receives your work product) and treat them like they are special. Let me know if you notice a difference....


Looking for more ideas to keep your supply chain connected? Access more tips and resources on my blog. And keep connected by subscribing to my newsletter and email feed of “I’ve Been Thinking…”

man charting on a world map.jpgWe are managing in an Amazon-impacted world. Customers expect rapid deliveries, 24/7 accessibility and products and services tailored to their needs. Customers are not willing to wait. In fact, they prefer same-day delivery.

Our manufacturing clients are experiencing lead time reduction requests from their customers. Some are requests; many are required to maintain the business. It is wide spread. Building products that clients ship within a day. Food clients ship rapidly — within a day or a week at most. Optics, industrial equipment, consumer products — across-the-board requests for shorter lead times. And even clients such as aerospace with traditionally long lead times have slashed lead times by 50%.These provide extreme challenges with extended supply chains.

If customer expectations weren't enough, labor costs in China and other outsourced manufacturing geographies are increasing. Other costs including sometimes hidden costs are high as well. The bottom line is that for non-commodity products, the total costs of outsourcing are rising to parity with North America sources.

And, risks abound. Natural disasters, political conflict, port strikes, bankruptcies and more. Thus, executives are reacting to these factors and re-thinking their strategies about outsourcing, insourcing and near-sourcing.

Please help contribute to our research study. If you have outsourced, insourced or near-sourced or if you have thought about and/or evaluated any of these options or plan to in the future, we'd appreciate your input. Complete the survey and help others facing the same decisions make better decisions. Also, please register if you are interested in receiving the results.


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Lost in the Culture Change Maze? 4 Strategies to Succeed


108 years! I wasn't too sure I'd see the Cubs win the World Series in my lifetime. After all, my dad missed out. We were both Cubs fans. While growing up, I watched almost every game with my friend Vonda. And I remember waiting for my dad to get home from work to go out and play catch in the yard. We even went to Wrigley Field for day games in the summer from time to time — such great memories!


cubs 2016.jpg

Certainly, being a Cubs fan requires a long-term view, loyalty and determination. Although we wouldn't want to wait 108 years for anything in business, a bit of these qualities can go a long way to achieving success. 


One tip to implement this week:


We definitely cannot wait 108 years while making progress in a week! So, let's think about what we could do in such a short period of time in relative comparison....


There is quite a bit of effort required to be loyal — whether for a few years or 108 years. Perhaps we should find a "cause" worthy of loyalty. Does your manager inspire loyalty? I was recently asked by a group of students which industry within manufacturing and supply chain was best. My answer is that they are all the same; what matters is the leader. Even though committing to several years is a hardship for graduating students today, my advice is to give it a try if/when you find an excellent leader. Does your company support a cause that encourages loyalty? Take a look around you and think about what inspires you — or should inspire you — to be loyal. Sometimes the best results start by taking stock of what's around you.


Soon, we'll address one of my favorite topics — determination. My success stems from this concept from an 80/20 perspective.


Looking for more ideas to keep your supply chain connected? Access more tips and resources on my blog. And keep connected by subscribing to my newsletter and email feed of “I’ve Been Thinking…”

Fotolia_116705508_XS.jpgWhen implemented well, ERP systems can support substantial business growth without the additional investment in resources. Certainly, as the minimum wage goes up and workers’ compensation and healthcare are such significant issues, it is something many executives are thinking about! However, ERP systems can do much more – they can help collaborate with customers and suppliers. Those with the best-extended supply chains will thrive in the end, and so it makes sense to take a look at upgrading ERP.

Thus, finding a way to successfully implement an ERP system is of paramount importance, yet the statistics dictate less than stellar performance. Typically, 80%+ of ERP system implementations fail to achieve the expected results. As experts in this space, we can attest that several of these are due to unrealistic expectations without the associated resources and efforts to ensure success; however, either way, ERP success can prove elusive.

Therefore, understanding how to give you a leg up with strategies for success can be vital. Ignore all the best practice mumbo-jumbo and focus on what will really matter:

1. It’s all about the people: As with almost every business success, ERP success is no different. It goes back to the leader – and the team. Have you assigned whoever is available to lead the project team? Or have you put thought into it? Have you freed him/her up from their regular activities or made sure he/she can dedicate the time required? Are you saving your “A” players for growing the business and your day-to-day responsibilities instead of ERP? Sound odd? Well, we come across this on a daily basis in our consulting business. How about the software supplier’s project team? Why should you be worried about them? You shouldn’t unless you are interested in success.


For example, we’ve been involved in several ERP selection projects lately and have stayed involved to ensure the process designs would support business objectives in the best way possible, and, unfortunately, we can convey countless examples of the 80% that run into issues with people. For example, in one case, the project leader was on top of things – truly much better than the average project leader for the size company yet the project still struggled due to people issues. The software supplier ran into trouble with their project manager. You never know what can go wrong and so it’s smart to remember to keep your eye on the importance of people.

2. Focus on design: The reason we often stay involved with the design process is that this is one of the critical success factors to ensuring ERP implementation success. The quandary is that this type of role requires a broad and diverse skillset, rarely found in project managers.

The skills required include a broad, cross-functional process expertise, an understanding of database design, an understanding of down-the-line impacts of typical system transactions, an understanding of report writing/ programming and the ability to communicate effectively and bridge the gap between the technical and application resources. In our experience, we run across this type of resource 5% of the time in our clients. On the other hand, we run across this type of skillset perhaps 30% of the time with the ERP resources; however, the really bad news is that even though the capability exists 30% of the time, it is used perhaps 10% of the time. The ERP supplier does not want to dictate the design as it will be “their solution” instead of the “client’s solution”, and it is a trick to communicate effectively enough such that the client believes it is their idea or is accepting of the information.

Is it any wonder ERP projects fail miserably?

3. Focus on what could go wrong: It is often rather difficult to keep the ERP project team positive and moving forward because they are causing disruption to the day-to-day success of the business and pushing the envelope with new ideas (sometimes perceived to be threatening or ill-conceived) and process changes which might or might not be accompanied by organizational changes (another key issue with ERP success). Thus, no one wants to create more havoc by deliberately creating tension, thus, forcing practice when mistakes are made and transactions go awry is overlooked. However, this is exactly what must occur to ensure success. Deliberately try to screw up the system when testing. It is not to be a “naysayer” (which can sometimes be the perception) but it is to make sure the team knows how to back out of bad situations. It is far better to “break” the system in test than with your #1 customer!

We cannot tell you how much nonsense we’ve heard about “system XYZ” is set up to perform best practices and so the team just doesn’t want to deal with change. In 95% of the situations, this statement isn’t true. Instead, forget about all the hoopla about best practices and focus on these 3 keys to success; results will follow.

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