The Power of Connections and the CEO Summit

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Earlier this week, I participated in the CEO Summit hosted by the University of La Verne. I moderated a session on leveraging the supply chain for growth and profitability (see one shot of us below), and I am a Board member for the College of Business and Public Management, and this is our key event of the year. The keynote speaker, Karen Caplan, CEO of Frieda’s Specialty Produce started her speech off by noting the power of connections. She attributed her connections and networks as significant to her success. How does your network stack up? I can personally attest to the power of connections.…
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Duke University & CFO Global Outlook Survey Suggests Optimism

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According to CFO, Duke University and CFO Global Business Outlook Survey suggests strong optimism! In fact, the survey’s optimism index for the quarter jumped to 69 (on a 100-point scale) which is the highest level in 14 years. This is also significantly higher than the long-run average of 60. Businesses are optimistic. 61% plan to increase their payrolls this year and 4% wage hikes are expected. Even more noteworthy is that capital spending is expected to increase by 6% vs. a median of 3% and a flat/negative spend in 2016. Are you ready? What Should We Consider and/or What Impacts Could Arise? Good…
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Do You Know What Is Important in Selecting the Right System?

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ERP systems often fail to live up to their promise — even in the best of circumstances. It is a tough environment — software suppliers are consolidating, the smaller ones can disappear or get gobbled up in a moment’s notice, good resources are hard to find, and the list goes on. Yet there is no choice but to proactively address this topic to have a scalable business and to meet customer expectations as you get to a certain size and complexity. Thus, it is worth-while thinking about whether you are prepared:  Do you fully understand your business requirements and specifically…
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5S Plus 2

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Many folks are familiar with the lean principle of 5S where the bottom line is: “Everything has a place and everything is in its place.” These steps originated in Japan as part of the journey towards a visual workplace. Translated they are Sort, Set in Order, Shine, Standardize and Sustain. A quick explanation of these would be: 1. Get rid of what you don’t need and keep what you do 2. Now you know what you have so organize it 3. Clean and inspect it so it works when you need it 4. Evaluate and improve, stay consistent where it makes sense to 5. Keep it up because it works. 5S is a proven methodology of creating and maintaining an efficient and effective work space. Over the years, we have evolved, the world has changed and we follow a continuous improvement way of life. In regards to 5S, we’ve added two more…
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Professionalism

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In a recent strategy meeting of our local APICS chapter, we stated our primary Mission as: “We Develop Professionals”. APICS is an international professional society that has become a recognized source for education and certification of Supply Chain and Operations Management professionals. As a chapter, we hold “professional development meetings”, provide “professional” training courses, seminars, and workshops, and offer “professional support” for our student chapter. Often we hear people say “he or she is a real professional”, but what does that really mean?
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Manufacturers Upbeat but Worry About Skills Gap

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According to Industry Week, the Fed’s survey of the economy expressed optimism; however, it also noted that labor markets are tightening. Since I’m also embarking on refreshing my 2013 Skills Gap research report, thus far, I’ve noted the same concerns for high-skilled positions. I hear far less conversation about lower-skilled positions when it comes to availability (instead I hear about minimum wage concerns); however, the vast majority of my clients require higher-skilled positions. In these cases, it is not always easy — or even attainable — to find the resources needed on a timely basis. What are you doing to get…
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Are You Ready for a Surprise Inspection of Your Service?

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In almost every client, trade association and trusted advisor meeting I attend, service emerges as a hot topic. In today’s Amazon-impacted world, our expectations are high. Although we might not complain, good service is no longer sufficient. If you don’t meet and frequently exceed expectations, you will lose customers. There are countless options available and loyalty runs only so deep. Thus, it makes sense to put aside time to think over key questions with your team: Who is responsible for customer care in your organization? Are they able to impact service? How do you measure servicing success? And how does it align…
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Tour of Combustion Associates & Collaboration

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Earlier this week, I participated in a manufacturers’ roundtable and tour at Combustion Associates as an APICS Inland Empire chapter event. It was an enlightening conversation and tour since the products and services are quite unique and the power of collaboration shined through at every point in the process. See a few of APICS-IE Board member colleagues pictured below. (Tony, we missed you for the photo!) Not only did Kusum Kavia (EVP of Combustion Associates) make sure it was an interesting event, she invited a wide variety of colleagues from international resources to government officials to local manufacturers to participate with our APICS-IE members.…
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The Secret to Successful System Implementations

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I’m in the middle of helping a client implement a companywide system and the challenges and issues we are facing in this effort remind me of the importance of the basics I’ve written about before. As I have said in earlier articles, large scale implementations are complex undertakings whose success is by no means ensured. Studies have shown implementations fail almost as often as they succeed. The secret of success is understanding that there are two major deliverables in every system implementation: Getting the solution ready for the business and Getting the business ready for the solution.
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Is Digitization Hype?

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Well, let’s start with a definition of digitization. According to CIO.com, McKinsey defines it as technologies that virtualize and automate products, services and supply chains. We certainly hear about digitization in the news frequently; however, according to McKinsey, even though CIOs embrace it, digitization is a slow-moving process. On the other hand, don’t see this as an opportunity to take a break. According to McKinsey, 49% of the leading companies are investing in digital more than their counterparts do, compared with only 5% of digital laggards. Perhaps it is an opportunity to leapfrog the competition? What Should We Consider and/or…
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