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Put the Spark Back in Manufacturing

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Only those manufacturers and distributors who want to thrive in 2014 will join in, collaborate and be a bigger part of the community! In todays’ increasingly complex world, seemingly touchy-feely topics like collaboration and community are a must. Who can know “all the answers” as to how to improve operational performance, decrease customer lead times, create customer loyalty, accelerate cash flow, quicken the product development life cycle etc.? No one I know; however, the “right” team of people do. Thus to be successful, it’s becoming more and more critical to seek out opportunities to join with your colleagues (and even…
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Ensuring Success with Your ERP Initiative: Tools and Techniques for Driving Change

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When you’re implementing a new ERP system, you want people to use new tools, screens and reports, and to work in new collaborative ways. In other words, you want people to change, and that makes an ERP implementation a change management project. Most of the time initiatives that require people to change the way they behave fall into two camps. We either assume people will naturally change from the old way to the new way, or we say how important change management is, and then assume someone else is doing that because we don’t have a clue how to get…
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The Problems with Inventory Turns

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Though inventory turns is the standard measure of inventory performance, inventory turns is limited as a metric. I’d go further to say, a good measure is one that causes the people involved to take action and therefore inventory turns is not a good measure. The first problem with turns as a measure is the question people always ask about it, what is the right number of turns? It is impossible to define the perfect number of turns. Some people say 52 turns, meaning I should turn my inventory once a week, is a great goal for turns. My experience is…
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The Amazon Effect: Create a Customer Service Edge

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There has never been a better time to create a customer service edge! Gone are the days of picking up the phone with easy orders on the other end! Although we’ve emerged from the recession and are typically profitable, growth is still a challenge. As baby boomers retire, there is less consumption, and with less consumption, demand is stagnated. Not only is growth harder to come by but service expectations are elevated due to the Amazon effect. Mega-distributors like Amazon have had a significant effect – consumers certainly expect rapid delivery, Sunday deliveries etc. Even manufacturers and distributors are seeing…
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Collaborate and Thrive

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 I’m seeing that only those clients who collaborate thrive.  More and more, customers are demanding dramatically improved service and shorter lead times.  Mega distributors like Amazon are elevating expectations.  A few of the key areas to focus on for collaboration include: 1. Pick up the phone – some of the largest successes I’ve seen result from simple yet critical conversations. It can be as simple as calling a customer to discuss current business and to stay in touch. 2. Win-win – remember to look for win-win opportunities in your conversations / meetings with your customers. Two heads are typically better than one…
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The Strongest Link

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I recently was the subject of what’s called a “member spotlight” question and answer session about my business. Knowing my business centers on the supply chain, my interviewer asked me to draw a picture of a supply chain. It’s always a good place to start as there are countless definitions of what people mean when they said “supply chain management”. In my case, I drew a web of interconnected points spanning from your supplier’s supplier through manufacturing and distribution to your customer’s customer. Afterwards, my interviewer asked me, “Why do you always start with the end of the diagram –…
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Eagle Eye: Don’t Prioritize!

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As much as I talk about priorities, I’m sure you’re wondering if I’ve lost my mind by saying “don’t prioritize”.  Possibly; however, there is a time to throw out priorities! What do you need to accomplish to support your strategies? How about your key customer needs?  I’ve seen too many clients “reshuffling chairs on the Titanic”. Who cares about priorities if you are drowning! There comes a time for radical thinking. For example, if you have significant levels of past due orders where your current level of staffing will yield only 50% of what you need, prioritizing will end in…
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