Small Business Cost Cutting: A Short Guide!

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Small business cost cutting article and permission to publish here provided by Carol Trehearn.

When it comes to cost-cutting in smaller businesses, you need to think very carefully. Not just because one bad investment could put your business in extreme difficulty, but also because you need to figure out what is a good deal or a bad deal pretty much on your own. Obviously, this can be stressful, and you might feel way out of your depth. 

The truth is, there are no easy decisions when you are running a small business and keeping everything ticking over while trying to take the business forward is a real juggling act.

With that in mind, here are some ideas for small business cost cutting you could put in place to not worry about your financial situation on top of everything else.

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Value Stream Mapping the Future State Process!

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Unchaining Change Leadership

We had completed value stream mapping the current state processes across some very significant business processes in the company.  It took a fair amount of time even though we had the active involvement of subject matter experts and leaders from every functional organization.

When all was said and done the current state involved hundreds of process steps, almost 200 pain points, and dozens of iterative, repetitive loops.  The company was just being introduced to Lean process improvement techniques.  And as challenging as it was to reach a common understanding of what the current processes were the difficult part was about to start.

How were we going to define and map the Future State process?

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The Disintermediation of the Supply Chain!

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What is disintermediation?

Most definitions of disintermediation characterize it as the elimination of intermediaries, or “cutting out the middleman“.

Further consider that the “Wastes” associated with Lean thinking and principles include transportation, inventory, over production and motion amongst others. Eliminating these wastes is critical for peak performance.

Why is this relevant?

A truly efficient and effective Supply Chain must include a strategy, plans, business processes, and performance metrics that incorporate disintermediation and the elimination of waste!

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Collaborative Robots: Making Manufacturing Jobs More Valuable

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Collaborative robots article provided by Tony Giovaniello, President, Economic Development Corporation (EDC) of Shasta County.

First, a “Prime Objective” of the Shasta EDC is job growth in the manufacturing and technology sectors. This is our key focus. However, the recruitment, retention, and expansion of our companies is equally important.

There is obviously a symbiotic relationship between employer and employees. However, from time to time there are talent gaps that emerge and technologies that force us to rethink our approaches to business.

Data shows that the number of manufacturing jobs are declining, and the jobs that remain are shifting to a mixture of the traditional and tribal knowledge around manufacturing and a blend of technical knowledge that helps to augment current manufacturing with the practical application of emerging technologies.

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Seasoned Leadership in Action™ – An Interview with Ron Emery, Continuous Improvement Consultant

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At Supply Chain Game Changer we believe in sharing experiences and expertise from people in every industry and from across the globe.  As such we have introduced our “Seasoned Leadership in Action” Interview series at Supply Chain Game Changer. This interview is with Ron Emery, Continuous Improvement Consultant, Author and Entrepreneur.

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7 Reasons to Switch to Agile Project Management!

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Agile project management article and permission to publish here provided by Andrej Fedek.

The agile approach is one of the most popular methodologies among project managers these days. This approach has been shown to be quite beneficial in supporting companies in developing profitable products/services.

This is primarily due to agile’s emphasis on teamwork and the priority it places on client happiness. Another reason agile is so effective is that it involves project roadmaps and continuously revises them to meet the customer’s growing needs.

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What is VUCA (Volatility, Uncertainty, Complexity and Ambiguity) ?

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Unchaining Change Leadership

In this age of acronyms one of the terms that I have heard more of in recent years is “VUCA”. In short VUCA stands for “Volatility, Uncertainty, Complexity, and Ambiguity”.

It seems to be a phrase designed to capture multiple synonyms for change and chaos, or the conditions associated with chaotic situations. Disarray, turmoil, pandemonium, unpredictability, confusion, and vagueness also capture that sensation of being in an environment that is out of equilibrium in some manner.

In both the personal and professional parts of our lives we are faced with these kinds of challenges each and every day.

Let’s explore more of what VUCA means and how we can better deal with these types of circumstances.

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Streamline your Entire Distribution Centre or Warehouse at One Time!

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How many times have you looked at your Distribution Centre operation and thought about how you would re-layout and streamline the process flow if you had the chance?

When you are starting with a new, empty facility it is clearly much easier to layout the operations to make the best possible flow of materials and processes.  But when you have an existing operation which has evolved over a long period of time, you are likely faced with utilities, equipment, infrastructure, walls, and paradigms all of which have resulted in a rather inefficient flow of materials and people and processes.

This was the situation we had in one of our Distribution Centres. In this particular Distribution Centre the current layout of the operation had been the result of many iterations of adding new customers, new products and new processes over time with the associated fluctuations in demand for everything.

Yet with the launch of our Global Process Excellence project we had unleashed our employees to make the improvements they had imagined could be made for a long time.

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Achieve Breakthrough Results! Go From Worst to First!

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We launched the Global Inventory Turnover Breakthrough project on April 1st.  It was not a joke.  Our challenge was to improve Inventory turnover from 6.3 turns to over 8.6 turns within the year.  This was a level of achievement that the company had never before reached, let alone thinking about going from Worst to First.

But we had the Call to Action.  Our Inventory turnover was perennially the worst in our industry.  Our Inventory levels were consuming an enormous amount of cash as well as creating a lot of expense in carrying charges.  And this had the effect of driving our Return on Invested Capital to very low, unattractive levels.  Further there were ongoing complaints that even though we had a lot of inventory we  never had all of the right material that was needed.

We had the motivation to turn this situation around.  What we didn’t know is that we were about to make history and go from Worst to First!

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Spreadsheets – A History and a Future!

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Unchaining Change Leadership

Most of us create, use, present and work with at least one spreadsheet each and every day.  Spreadsheets have proven invaluable.  And many businesses even observe, and complain, that they are run on spreadsheets.

Yet there was a time not that long ago when most people didn’t even know what a spreadsheet was.  In the early 1980s I was given one the first IBM Personal Computers to use, along with the spreadsheet software Visicalc.  Spreadsheets forever transformed my productivity and skill set.

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Featuring Our 12 Best Change Management Articles!

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Nothing can be accomplished and no vision can be realized without leadership. But even the best leaders know that any goal that they are trying to achieve will inevitably mean some level of change. They need Change Management.

This change may manifest itself in changing business processes, changing job responsibilities and roles, changing organizations, changing infrastructure, changing products and services or even completely changing direction.

While change is inevitable change usually does not come easy. There is no end to the number of challenges, hurdles and barriers that will be put in front of you.

This all requires Change Management, or as we prefer to say, Change Leadership. In this “Featuring” series article we present our best articles on the matter of Change Management and Change Leadership!

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The Elegance of the Costco Supply Chain!

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To begin I must admit that Costco is one of my favourite stores. I started thinking about the Costco Supply Chain.

Stereotypically I almost always buy more than I intended given the unique things that you find in their aisles. And the standard items are invariably great deals, even if the quantities are larger than you will find in other stores.

When you consider the physical layout of the store you are really walking through a warehouse. High ceilings, rows and rows of pallet racking, and concrete floors.

At its core the Costco business structure is a great example of a lot of Supply Chain principles implemented with great efficiency.

What is it that makes Costco’s Supply Chain so effective?

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5 Ways to Manage Supply Chain Documents!

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Supply Chain documents article and permission to publish here provided by Claire Glassman.

With globalization came the increase in the shipment of goods from one country to another. This made the world more interconnected and gave more opportunities for businesses. These goods come in and out of warehouses and stores with a paper trail, so it’s easier to know where they are.

As such, supply chain documents should be treated with the utmost care. As your business grows, the more supply chain documents you will handle. It’s important to note that supply chain documentation doesn’t only take place at the trading level. There are steps to be taken before goods can be traded in order to ensure the success of a business. 

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Enable Spend Aggregation in Procurement!

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Aggregating your procurement spend for the purpose of delivering greater value is a sound objective.  Theoretically you should be able to generate better service, better terms and conditions, and better cost.  Therefore you should enable spend aggregation.

Yet there can be many obstacles in your way to achieving this seemingly simple goal.  Loss of control, fear of job loss, questionable benefits, and a perceived loss of margin are some of the obstacles you may run across.  We discussed these in greater detail in our post Procurement (Part 1!) – The Spend Aggregation Obstacle Course!

You may be trying to aggregate spend within your company or across companies, or you are trying to outsource this to a Group Purchasing Organization (GPO).  To overcome the Spend Aggregation obstacles there are a series of enablers you need to enact to make this successful.

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What is Product (or Master) Data Management?

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I had just inherited a new department into my organization, the Product Data Management (PDM) team.

Shortly thereafter I started getting calls from the CEO. We were missing customer deliveries due to problems in getting the correct, and complete data, into the systems which enabled us to manage bills of material and manufacture products.

While Product Data Management seemed to have been a rather basic function I quickly learned that their role and responsibilities were not understood, were undervalued, and yet were absolutely pivotal and essential to the ability of the entire company to operate.

This was one of many lessons I learned about this critical part of any organization.

What then exactly is Product, or Master, Data Management?

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