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2017

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Last week, I went on a tour of the Toyota North American Parts Center and had the opportunity to see the Toyota Production System techniques up close. It is always amazing to see that no matter how many millions are spent on technology (which I saw plenty of!), the key to success resides with the PEOPLE! That is one of the tenets of the Toyota Production System.

 

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One tip to implement this week:

There is much that can be achieved rapidly in leveraging Toyota Production System techniques — no matter your industry or role. The idea is to capture the ideas of the people closest to the action — whether those interfacing with the customer, delivering to the customer, or producing quality parts on the line. And to empower them within reasonable guidelines for success. It sounds quite easy yet it rarely is achieved and sustained.

 

Start by putting together a group of colleagues to discuss improvement ideas. What can you do to make things easier and more successful for your customers? Can you add value without adding cost?  What could you do for your colleagues who receive your work product? Are there ways you can be more efficient and safe? Or can you add clarity and visibility into the process? Just brainstorm ideas. Next, you'll pick one and get started. 

 

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…”

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According to the 2017 Deloitte Global CPO Survey, 85% of those surveyed felt that talent was the largest factor in driving procurement performance yet 60% think they have a skills gap to deliver on their procurement objectives. My clients are experiencing this same phenomenon, no matter the role within manufacturing and supply chain. What are you doing to find, retain and develop your talent?

 

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

 

We are in a volatile business environment - global trade is evolving, risks abound, regulations are changing, supply chains are complex and significant change has become the norm. Instead of complaining or burying our head in the sand, we must find a way to get ahead of the curve. This starts with TALENT. 

 

I am constantly asked to help clients, trade association contacts and alliance colleagues find, retain and train talent. No matter the technical topic, it will not succeed without talent. Thus, we better pay attention. Due to this continual feedback, I have dusted off my Skills Gap research from late 2013 and am refreshing it. I'd appreciate your feedback and insights for my research. I'll keep you in the loop on the results.

 

In the interim, start thinking about the skills gap. What will you need a year down-the-line? Are you positioned to not only succeed short-term but to leverage opportunities as they arise over the next 12-24 months? If not, you have a skills gap. Put off spending cash in other areas but do not skimp on your talent. 

 

Think about your objectives and back into your plan. Should you hire employees or fill expertise gaps with consultants? Will top talent WANT to work with you and in your company culture? Don't assume the answer is yes — think about it and find out. What should you do to attract and retain top talent? That might also lead you to the third option which you should pursue regardless — developing talent. What training, education and mentoring programs do you offer? 

big picture view.jpgSituation: Our client had implemented an ERP system several years ago. As is typical when a system is implemented, they implemented the basics and then took a break to run the business. Although you start out thinking of vast improvements and how you'll automate all sorts of processes, getting the foundation working effectively with high levels of customer service and some level of efficiency typically takes quite a lot of effort. The team is tired and needs to smooth out the day-to-day business. Understandable. 

 

The good news is that they were set up for the future with an improved base. The bad news is that they didn't know how to get from this new base to utilizing the improvements that would start to yield a return on investment. Their ERP partner moved on to other customers. Although they would return to work on improvements, our client wasn't sure how to best utilize the ERP supplier's expertise to jump to a new level of improvement. Instead, they stressed as they watched dollars fly out the window as hours passed, discussing these improvements. What could they do?

 

Path Forward: The key challenge is in translation between business objectives, process improvements and utilizing advanced functionality to support them. Most clients want to jump to one particular software feature (specific functionality) as the path forward that will cure all ills. In 80% of the cases, the software alone will only automate a less-than-desirable process, providing substandard results faster. Thus, the key is to find those resources in your organization or outside of your organization who can take the big picture view simultaneously with an eye to execution to figure out the best path forward, given your ideal business outcomes, your current situation (technology, process and skills-wise), technology advancements etc. Clients that pursue this path not only achieve improved results but they also achieve them rapidly.

 

Did you like this article? Continue reading on how to become a Systems Pragmatist:

 

Why ERP Success Has Little to Do With Systems

 

5 ERP Selection Pitfalls

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I am the Chair of the APICS West Coast student case competition, and we just wrapped up our 2017 event. We had 104 students from around the world fly into San Diego to compete. It was a really impressive group of students!

 

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The competition is judged 50% on the technical score (the return on investment achieved after several rounds running a business simulation game) and 50% on the presentation to the Boards of Directors of the company. I have to say....some of the best presentations were those who didn't perform as well on the ROI because they learned from it, took the positive attitude and used a creative mindset to show how they would improve in the future. With that said, just as is true in real life, you MUST have both the technical side (no empty suits can be successful long-term) AND the communications to back it up. 

 

The team that won not only 1st place in the undergraduate division but ALSO was the top scoring team of undergraduates and graduates and so will represent us at APICS 2017 was Harvey Mudd College. Although I'm the chair of the competition and excited about how amazing EVERY team performed at the event, I am especially thrilled because Harvey Mudd is an APICS Inland Empire Chapter student team. CONGRATS Alexa Le, Joe Sinopoli, Shaan Gareeb and Katherine (Yoo Jeong) Shim! (And Kash Gokli, your academic advisor).

 

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One tip to implement this week:

Take what these students did to heart and think about how you can continually improve your technical skills AND your communication/presentation skills. I find that my clients often think about investing in technical skills but rarely think about communication and presentation skills yet one without the other doesn't work.   

 

Deliberately sketch out a plan. Select 1 technical skill and 1 communication skill you'd like to improve. Even if you have a long list (we all do!), just select one in each category that you think will be especially beneficial to your career in the next year. My clients find that if they select intelligently and FOCUS in execution, they succeed. Let me know how it goes.

 

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…”

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According to the Institute for Supply Management's Manufacturing Purchasing Managers' Index, manufacturing is on an upswing. The composite index rose in January, making it the fifth straight monthly expansion. New orders and production grew strongly! And the Dallas Federal Reserve Bank reported that manufacturing activity expanded at its fastest pace since April 2010 — more importantly, leaders are positive about the next six months. In fact, the forward-looking outlook measure jumped to a level not seen in 12 years! Are you ready?


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

 

Although this is great news for manufacturing, we should make sure we are prepared for success. Do we have the capacity and staffing to meet our customer requirements? Do we have the skills and talent to grow successfully? And, are we building agility and flexibility into our systems? According to my recent outsourcing research, 70% of executives are considering near-sourcing and in-sourcing strategies. Thus, I expect these numbers to continue to grow.

 

Many of my clients struggle to find, retain and train talent. Thus, I have dusted off my Skills Gap research from late 2013 and am refreshing it. I'd appreciate your feedback and insights for my research. I'll keep you in the loop on the results.

 

In the interim, start thinking about the skills gap. Are you partnering with community colleges? Trade associations like APICS? Other local companies? Even competitors? Consider involving top notch executive recruiters, partnering with temporary agencies and supplementing with consultants and contractors. Success will come to those companies ready to serve the customer when the customer wants it! We cannot afford to delay.

shipping boxex.jpgSituation: Our client struggled with low customer service levels since they cut back with inventory on the 'wrong' items during a time of tight cash flow. Of course to add fuel to the fire, the customer also wanted product to be delivered at least 20% earlier, ideally 50% earlier.

If our client didn't find a way to respond quickly, they would risk losing key customers.

Path Forward: Upon looking at the order fulfillment flow, there were countless areas of opportunity. However, simultaneously working on these solutions would tax already-maxed out resources (who also were frustrated by angry customers) and accomplish nothing. 

If everything is a priority, nothing is a priority. And, if you wait for all the details to align perfectly, you'll start long after your key customers start looking to replace you. Instead, take a step back and do nothing except observe and take a fresh view of the people, processes and systems. Where are the vulnerabilities? Undoubtedly, each person/department will have a pet project. Eliminate all the noise and just look for the bottleneck.

Of course there could be more than one bottleneck but there will be one that is most significant. Start there. Find the source of this bottleneck and put all your resources on eliminating that bottleneck. If the bottleneck is in a particular area of your operation, the related supervisor is the most important person in the facility. If she/he needs help on a Saturday, everyone from the CEO to the line manager will find out how he/she can help. Solving these one at a time will accelerate improvement in delivery performance.

 

Did you like this article? Continue reading on how to be the Strongest Link in your organization:

 

Slashing Lead Times to Counter the Amazon Effect

 

Is Your Supply Chain Ready for Growth?

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Earlier this week, I spoke at PMI (Project Management Institute) Inland Empire on "Elevating Your Personal Brand and Advancing Your Career". We had an intriguing, interactive discussion on how critical branding is to each of our careers and personal success. Although we must be competent, if we do not distinguish ourselves from our competition, colleagues and other project teams, we will not accomplish nearly what we would if we did!

 

Do you know what your colleagues would say about you? How does it stack up with how you'd like to be seen?

 

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One tip to implement this week:

 

Start by jumping right in. Take a few minutes to THINK about how you think you are known. Which qualities do you think you are known for? Are there unique factors that distinguish you from your colleagues? What are they? Once you've spent some time getting to know yourself, ask your colleagues, friends, employees, and manager. Ask them for your strengths. It is always best to build a brand on strengths. Don't worry about weaknesses right now.  

 

How does what you think and what your colleagues think compare? Perhaps you have some additional strengths you weren't thinking about. I find that we usually underestimate our positive qualities.

 

Remember, perception is reality. If you like it, build upon it. If you don't like it, change it. It is quite doable! It is well worth spending time on your personal brand as it is how people will see you. Your brand can get you "in the door" you'd like to get in — whether a job interview, on the most exciting project team or the promotion you desire.

 

 

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…”

 

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Co-chairs Lisa Anderson MBA, CSCP, CLTD, president of LMA Consulting Group and The ACA Group’s Ellen Kane, CPIM, will be holding the 11th Annual APICS West Coast Student Case Competition on February 17 and 18, at the Wyndham San Diego Bayside in San Diego, Calif. The competition attracts undergraduates and graduate students from the region including Southern California, Arizona, Nevada, and northern Mexico, and because of its popularity, consistently draws teams from Washington, Oregon, Northern CA, Texas, Utah, Canada and Hong Kong. Approximately 100 students compete in roughly 25 teams running computer simulations to solve supply chain and logistics business problems presenting their work to a mock Board of Directors (APICS professionals). The top two teams in each division compete on Saturday with one more round of computer simulation walking away with cash prizes to help fund their transportation, hotel and registration fees for the competition.

 

“Our goal is to provide value to the students and get them engaged in the community of professionals with connections that will be valuable as they search for jobs and advance their career. We believe strongly that students are the future of manufacturing, and we want to encourage them to pursue careers in operations and supply chain management,” explains Anderson, recognized as SAP’s 16th most influential in supply chain management and sustainability. “They truly apply what they are learning in their respective programs to solve these challenging simulations.”

 

Keynote speaker Linda Duffy, president of Ethos Human Capital Solutions will prepare participants for work life after college and teach better business exchanges with a presentation on “Building Communication Skills for a Successful Career” at 1:00 P.M. “I appreciate the opportunity to share my business communications, teambuilding and work life insights with college students —especially the ones who are competing at the APICS West Coast Student Case Competition,” states Duffy. “I will specifically focus on business communications and how to build rapport with coworkers. Participants will be able to take the Everything DiSC Workplace® assessment so they can understand their communication style and how their approach might need to be flexed to get along with co-workers.”

 

APICS Southwest students, most with backgrounds in operations management, supply chain management, industrial engineering, or MBA students, will compete to solve computer-simulated supply chain problems at a graduate and undergraduate level. Simulations challenge students to create solutions to the problems posed and provide the rationale for their recommendations. Judging is provided by APICS professionals with 50 percent of the final score focused on presentation and the other 50 percent graded the ROI calculations and rationale. The competition is open to all students enrolled in universities in the APICS Southwest Region and coordinated by APICS-IE and LMA Consulting Group president, Lisa Anderson and APICS-SFV VP Finance and The ACA Group’s Ellen Kane. Participants are able to showcase their talent for fellow students, professors and future employers. For more information on this year’s competition, visit the APICS Southwest District Website.

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As one of the panelists at the Manufacturers' Summit last week said, "Have you ever seen manufacturing in the news more than it has been lately?" Quite an intriguing point....

 

The Summit had an expert panel on the future of manufacturing — and what the Trump era was likely to bring to manufacturing.  The panel was specifically non-partisan and included several heavy hitters including the president of the CMTA (California Manufacturers & Technology Assoc), the president of a local manufacturing company who also sat on the president's export council for many years, the president of the Inland Empire Economic Partnership (IEEP), a manufacturing leader at a global company and the COO of the National Association of Manufacturers (NAM). I definitely took notes.

 

The bottom line is that manufacturing has much to gain. This ties in with the sentiment of the manufacturers in attendance. How might you gain?


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

 

Let's start with a few highlights and a mixed bag: Exports won't change. Trade isn't dead although costs will likely rise on imports. The use of technology is on the rise. Industry 4.0 is becoming "the thing to watch". California has some steep disadvantages to overcome. For example, our energy costs are 15% higher than the next most expensive state, according to one of the large local companies in the Inland Empire, and investment in manufacturing is weak at best!

 

Now on to some positive news:

  • Tax reform - it is likely to benefit manufacturers
  • Infrastructure - definitely likely to benefit manufacturers and specifically California (roads, bridges, ports, digital, energy); however, we need to make sure it happens!
  • Regulatory reform - permitting will definitely improve, and regulatory reform will benefit manufacturers overall.
  • Healthcare - somewhat unknown; however, if Pence does what he has said he'd like to do, the states will have a significant say in how money is allocated. Certainly, most manufacturers have struggled with healthcare the last several years and so the hope is for improvement.

 

There is plenty to think about in these expert predictions. What can you do to start the ball rolling so you are ahead of the curve?

 

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The Mexican government took away subsidies on gas, and so prices soared in the New Year. A 20% hike in gas prices has spurred on protests, looting and chaos at border crossings. Although the objective was to let the cost of fuel adjust to the market, the gasolinazo (which is how the price hike is known) is anything but just a market adjustment in the eyes of the people. They are not happy!

 

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It is already creating havoc in the Mexican supply chain. What should we be thinking about to stay on top of this supply chain trend?


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

 

This isn't likely to be a temporary change since it brings gas prices to market levels, and it seems to signal a change in direction from the government. Thus, one obvious change will be the need to build these costs into our transportation costs throughout the supply chain for items moving around/through Mexico. 20% seems like a reasonable number to use for analyses.

 

It has temporarily created supply chain disruption in the form of looting, border jams and the like. Since it is a signal of changes to come, perhaps we should account for a bit more supply chain disruption. Do we have backup plans?  Do we have alternate routes? Will a 20% increase in transportation cost create any supply chain redesigns? What will other supply chain partners change due to this increase (if anything)? Will we be ready for which of those are likely to impact you?

 

There is an air of excitement about the future in manufacturing! Last week, I talked with several executives of manufacturing companies and the next day I was the chair of the innovation awards at the Manufacturing Council of the Inland Empire (MCIE) Manufacturers' Summit, and it is clear that profitable growth is in the air. Of course, it will not occur unless we focus on the customer, innovation and our people ....to name a few priorities. What are you focused on?

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One tip to implement this week:

 

Just because many manufacturers are seeing a positive outlook to the future doesn't mean it will turn into a reality unless we back up the talk with action. The speaker at last night's executive roundtable was amazingly organized and structured about continuous improvement and cost reduction strategies which have been ultra successful year after year in delivering bottom line results; however, he freely admits that it didn't start out that way. Start with what you have and improve on it over time.  

 

He said one of the keys to success was to involve and ask the people for improvement ideas. You can certainly gather a small group of colleagues over lunch and ask for ideas. If they think you are serious, they just might give you a few. Write them down. Stop worrying about variance tracking which can spiral into a lot of nonsense that doesn't tell you whether you are truly improving. Instead, track reality and trend it over time. Go see it. No matter how unimaginative you think you are, keep pressing forward, be curious and ideas will start to emerge.   

 

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…”

lisa headshot.jpgLisa Anderson MBA, CSCP, president of LMA Consulting Group has earned her APICS Certificate in Logistics, Transportation and Distribution (CLTD) credential. APICS, the premier professional association for supply chain management, offers education and certification programs for supply chain and operations professionals. The CLTD examination tests mastery of high level logistics knowledge and skills, encompassing domestic and global markets. The designation requires maintenance every five years and indicates an adherence to best practices and advanced practices in logistics.

"Even with over 25 years of experience in the industry, I've learned a lot in the process of preparing for this exam," shares Lisa Anderson. "The exam covers a broad range of material from the traditional logistics, transportation and distribution topics to global logistics considerations, logistics network design and reverse logistics and sustainability. We are fortunate to have organizations like APICS to continually elevate our skills and stay on top of relevant trends in the industry to not only give employers standards with which to measure employees, potential employees and partners but to provide ideas and strategies that drive bottom line business results. It is quite a privilege to add CLTD after my name and to be recognized for this expertise."

Anderson's membership in APICS extends beyond her own continuing education and professional development. She also serves as President for APICS Inland Empire Chapter, which can be found at www.apics-ie.org, and as Chair of the West Coast Student Case Competition, which can be found at www.apicscasecompetition.org. Anderson has also been recognized with the Milt Cook award for the APICS Southwest district which is the highest award for service and dedication to the District and principles of APICS. APICS is the largest international supply chain professional organization with over 37,000 members and its mission is to foster the advancement of end-to-end supply chain management through a body of knowledge, innovative research, systems, and methods to create value for customers, members, and organizations. For more information or to join, visit their website at www.apics.org.