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Earlier this week, I spoke to APICS Ventura County on the topic of SIOP (Sales, Inventory & Operations Planning). It was a great conversation because it was really interactive, with probing questions on not just the theory and concepts but how to “make it work.” Talking more about the secret recipe to achieving results. What became apparent during the discussion is that what we do truly boils down to much, much more than aligning demand with supply or any of the technical aspects of SIOP. Success results from collaboration and common sense with a dash of judgment thrown in at the right time.

Then, later this week, I was with a client who pondered something similar about a completely different topic – how do we “make this happen”? Again, technical concepts are important to start on the right page and to think through the best design or solution. But without collaboration, common sense and judgment, nothing happens!


One tip to implement this week:

Try hard not to get buried in technical concepts. Do you know anyone that hides behind massive spreadsheets or complex processes? Or, do you find yourself getting carried away with a cool new technology (regardless of the importance to results)? Admit it – we all do!

Instead, success comes by remembering common sense. What do you really need to do to get everyone in the loop? As issues and potential roadblocks arise, think about what makes sense. Forget about the complex formulas and overload of data analysis. Collaborate with your colleagues (not one single person can achieve as much two or more people collaborating and trading ideas) and apply a healthy dose of judgment. Results will follow.

Do your internal operations truly have a significant impact on your customer service levels? Yes, for every single client, they can have a dramatic effect!

For example, we recently worked with a client that wanted to raise the bar when it came to customer service levels. Over time, product mix, distribution strategies and buffer capabilities changed which created a gap when compared to prior performance levels. The challenge was to improve customer service and the overall customer experience rapidly – and “make it stick”.

It comes down to teamwork

It comes down to teamwork


As is true with every client we’ve worked with over the last several years – when it comes to customer service, no matter how proactive your front line is with customer communications and no matter what heroics your operations folks jump through to deliver product, the “win” or “loss” will boil down to whether your Sales and Operations are on the same page and executing in concert with one another. For example, if Sales is excited to win large orders (BIG wins) and Operations isn’t prepared for these big wins (not enough people, machines, materials, and the like), service will suffer. Add Finance into the mix who is not likely to be prepared for the cash flow impacts, and the situation can become even more frustrating. As apparent as this sounds, it is extremely common.

Could a simple solution of aligning Sales with Operations with Finance deliver the bottom line BIG win? Yes, every time.

Did you like this article? Continue reading on the topic: SIOP/Integrated Business Planning


Stay on top of your supply chain strategy.

Can supply chain strategy have a profound impact on your bottom line? Without a doubt!

Recently, we worked with a client that wanted to review their operations strategy and look for ways to optimize and improve. To begin, we evaluated many business options including, but not limited to:

  1. Do nothing (stay in the same locations).
  2. Transfer distribution operations closer to the port.
  3. Move to a different location in the Inland Empire.
  4. Relocate to Nevada.
  5. Evaluate 3PL options.
  6. Expand and automate the current facility.

In this client’s case, the customer, cost and cash flow impacts of making these changes is significant. Therefore, it’s important to review many potential outcomes thoroughly.

The bottom line


It is smart to refresh your supply chain strategy every few years (depending on the level of change within your company and externally) to ensure it is best fit for delivering optimal results. In conclusion, experience shows that was “killer” one year could leave you in a weak competitive position the next.

Are you staying on top of your supply chain and it’s related impacts? I’d love to hear about your top strategies in the comments!


Did you like this article? Read more about supply chain strategy.


LMA Consulting - Supply Chain Briefing

I recently spoke on a panel at a ProVisors (a top notch group of trusted advisers) event about supply chain and its impact on the Southern California and Inland Empire economy.

Lisa Anderson on a Supply Chain Information Panel - Provisors


The event prompted me to think about whether we are keeping supply chain top of mind (from your suppliers’ suppliers, through your manufacturing operations – insourced, outsourced or both – to your customers’ customers, inclusive of transportation and logistics networks, IT etc.). It will have a dramatic impact on your business success, and, in Southern California’s case, the economy. For example, is the Amazon Effect (the notion of 24/7, immediate delivery with value-added suggestions and innovative service) affecting your business? What can you do about it? Do you think autonomous vehicles or robots will have an impact your business? If you aren’t thinking about supply chain, you will miss critical business opportunities.

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

Keeping supply chain top of mind is simply keeping your business top of mind. Some of the current hot topics are those like the Amazon Effect – finding out what your customers expect in terms of service. Beyond that, do you understand their needs so well that you could proactively suggest products and services that might add value for them? Could you change or innovate what you do to better align with what would be most beneficial to them? In essence, are you thinking about the total customer experience?

Another hot topic is supply chain technology. How can you utilize technology and/or what might be coming down the pike that will affect your business? Can you get ahead of it? I hear a lot about utilizing supply chain data, robotics, automation, artificial intelligence and more. What is relevant to you? Now is the time to think about it.