The company I had just joined was only a few months away from completing a multi-year project to revamp their primary Distribution Centre. The project would cost a total of $25 million, which seemed like highway robbery.
Part of my job was to see the implementation of the project brought to a successful conclusion, reaping all of the anticipated benefits.
But as I worked through the pains of a new system implementation, and gained more first hand knowledge, it occurred to me that the system design was completely lacking in strategic value.
As we come to the end of our 3rd year here at Supply Chain Game Changer it is time to publish our semi-annual 2019 Top 10 List.
First we want to thank our readers. Our audience and reach continues to expand with Supply Changer now being ranked as one of the Top 20 Supply Chain blogs in the world and one of the Top 15 Procurement blogs in the world. Both are record achievements for us.
Second we want to thank our guest contributors. With dozens of writers and articles we continue to fulfill our vision of sharing expertise and experience from all over the world.
We thank you for your ongoing support and ask you to continue to spread the word about Supply Chain Game Changer. There is truly something of value for everyone no matter what challenge you are facing each and every day.
Here we present our Top 10 list for the second half of 2019. Enjoy!
The Supply Chain touches all of our lives whether it be in business or personally. No matter what industry you are in or are touched by, all involve the movement of goods, services, and information. So the most efficient functioning of the Supply Chain affects us all. And it affects us in every aspect of our lives whether we are consumers, employees, or business leaders.
With a career spent in Supply Chain I’ve seen many ways of performing the processes involved in managing the Supply Chain. Many of these processes are highly efficient. Yet many more are highly inefficient. Regardless, everyone strives to improve the way things are done. And every experience has been an opportunity for growth.
In this blog I’d like to share my experiences, and those of others, in improving, working in, managing in and being managed by the Supply Chain.
There have been some remarkable achievements and there have been some missteps along the way. However there are lessons to be learned and experiences to be shared in every case. And I hope that this learning and shared experience will be of value as you seek to improve the Supply Chain you are a part of.
On top of that we want to share anything and everything related to Leadership, Change Management, Technology, Procurement, Purchasing, Distribution, Logistics, and much, much more.
Overall Supply Chain Game Changer can serve you as a guide as you do your jobs and as you progress through your career. The issues and challenges that you face will be different for everyone on any given day. There is something for everyone in Supply Chain Game Changer.
Additionally I invite you to comment and send me content. By learning, not only from successes but from failures, we will all be better going forward. There is a wonderful world of people and experiences that we can all learn from.
So again I welcome you to the Supply Chain Game Changer™ blog.
It was our first Holiday season working in Retail. From a Supply Chain perspective the pressure was intense. Despite massive investments the previous year and repeated assurances of Holiday readiness from the incumbent staff the entire experience was disastrous.
First the Distribution Centre (DC) ran out of storage space. Delays by the planning team in releasing orders to the DC resulted in a mad scramble to get goods to the stores and fill their empty shelves. And a never-ending slew of stock-outs and productivity issues made the next few months an absolute nightmare. Potentially blowing the Holiday season was a constant reality which would undermine the very survivability of the company.
The entire team was on the verge of being fired. What on earth happened to Holiday readiness and how could be prevent this from ever happening again?
Much of Supply Chain activity not only involves solving problems but also involves doing the investigative work to find out what caused those problems so as to prevent recurrence in the future. In this vein we launched our “The Supply Chain Detective™ Series” and here we present our first 10 cases!
This is an intriguing and exciting part of any Supply Chain job. Most people don’t just want to be fixing problems. Solving problems, like material shortages, can be highly stressful and exhausting. But the more intellectual exercise is to figure out what happened to create those problems in the first place.
To this end we have captured real life experiences and articulate what happened through the eyes and mind of “The Supply Chain Detective™”.
Here we have summarized the first 10 cases that we have published to date.
The CEO called. “I need you to go down to Mexico right away. They aren’t paying their invoices and suppliers are stopping shipments. Our manufacturing lines are going to stop. I need it fixed right away. Get those bills paid now.”
What on earth was going on? Why didn’t the site just pay their bills? This shouldn’t be a big deal. And this was their problem, and responsibility, not mine. But as with any crisis situation it’s all hands on deck to get the problem fixed.
Little did I realize that while on the surface this seemed like a simple problem, and solution (ie. just pay the darn bills), the reality would prove to be much more complicated. This would be a case for a Supply Chain Detective!
My plane had just landed. I turned on my cell phone. And almost immediately my CEO called to ask me about my recently hired “Rock Star” boss.
“Have you heard from Rick? Nobody’s heard from him in several days.”
Rick was my new boss, the CPO, a guy that the CEO hired a couple of months before.
“No I haven’t heard from him either. That is very unusual given the incredible pace he set for himself”, I said.
“Ok. Let me know if you hear from him and I’ll do the same.”
Where the heck was he? He seemed to be working 20 hours a day, 7 days a week. All of his direct reports were getting dozens of emails from him at all hours of the day and night. But lately there was nothing. Complete radio silence.
The company I had just joined went to market declaring that it was a world leader in Distribution and Logistics. That was a clear contradiction to the Inventory Turnover Mystery I was about to discover.
As I settled into the job and started learning, and studying, the various Supply Chain metrics I was surprised when I looked at the Inventory Turnover performance of the company.
Looking at recent and historical Inventory performance I could see that turnover always stayed around 5-6 turns with little variation. Everyone seemed content with the situation and unmotivated to make it better.
For a company that declared their world leading capability I was astonished. 5-6 turns? True leadership in this areas would require double digit turns.
I needed to figure out what was truly going on and get this Inventory Turnover mystery solved. This was another case for the Supply Chain Detective™.
I had just arrived on the scene. On the surface the operational leaders I met from the Americas, Europe and Asia were very smart people. But I soon learned that each region had their own disparate ways of doing things locally. From a broader perspective however there were only broken global processes.
To say that there were broken global processes is a little misleading. The fact was that there were no truly “global” processes. Every site had their own way of doing things even within a region, so there weren’t even actual regional processes.
Certainly there can be obvious clues: your CEO starts firing and hiring people, consultants are brought in, customers start leaving, or operating and financial performance suffers.
But before the situation gets to those extremes what are the clues that your Supply Chain is not working as well as it could, or should?
Supply Chain effectiveness is absolutely critical for companies in most industries to survive, let alone succeed. And even if your company seems successful now that is no guarantee that it will be in the future.
So detecting those clues and solving these problems is of paramount importance.
I was brought into the company to make changes happen. The company was facing overwhelming competition from a global behemoth. The product portfolio was outdated and the company needed to enter new markets with new products. And that meant that a fundamental change in processes, structure, systems and culture was required. There should be no change paradox.
The dire situation, and the need for change, was communicated first from the CEO. And it seemed that everyone in the organization, regardless of level or title, all recognized the need for change and the sense of urgency.
But when it was time to make change happen the level of resistance, from the CEO on down, was incredible.
The forces for change met with equal and opposite forces against change. This change paradox, and the resultant paralysis, could only be solved by The Supply Chain Detective™.
It was early September and I was sitting in my office preparing for a meeting. I was in the Retail Industry which meant that in Supply Chain this was the beginning of the frantic Holiday season. The last thing we needed was a Distribution Centre disaster.
Products were arriving at our Distribution Centres from all over the world at an unprecedented rate so that we could in turn send them out to the Retail stores over the next few months.
We were anticipating receiving more goods than ever but as it was my first year in Retail I had been assured by my team that we could handle the load.
As I sat there my Distribution Centre leader called me.
“Mike, We are out of space already. We have no more room to receive anything else.”
My heart sank. This was catastrophic. The goods we had received so far were just the tip of the iceberg. We had a real Distribution Centre disaster on our hands.
As 2022 draws to a close it is interesting to reflect on the fact that while many of the restrictions put in place during the pandemic are no longer in place, the Supply Chain disruptions caused by the pandemic continue to persist.
These continued disruptions reinforce our belief that Supply Chains continue to be structurally weak. They fall far from the ideal of having much more robust and resilient Supply Chains.
On that note it is important to take the time to reflect on our top 10 articles for the second half of 2022.