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How Students Show Us the HIGH VALUE of Continuous Learning

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On Friday and Saturday, my APICS Chapter hosted the APICS West Coast Student Case Competition. I happened to lead the Student Case Competition committee as well, and so I was immersed. It was a popular event as we had close to 100 students from universities throughout Southern California, AZ, Northern CA, Utah, Oregon, Texas, Mexico, Hong Kong, etc. The students did a supply chain case study through a simulated computer exercise and presented their findings and learnings to the crowd (as if we were the Board of Directors of the company). It certainly pointed out how much talent there is in our future supply…
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Are You Planning for Failure?

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Are you planning for failure? I imagine no one thinks they plan for failure; however, I see it happen more than you’d think. Instead, plan for success, and success will follow. Have you ever called an important contact and were surprised when he/she answered the phone – and you didn’t know what to say? Don’t despair…we have all been there. This is an example of planning for failure on a small scale. As easy as it is to do with this, unfortunately, I also see countless examples of this in everyday work situations. For example, if you are planning an…
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Uncommon Common Sense Project Management

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Why is everyone searching for the latest and greatest technology and fad when common sense will drive bottom line business results? It seems that it is an exciting conversation piece to talk about potentially intriguing technology or concepts such as agile, and so we all get caught up in it. However, when I look across the hundreds of projects implemented by my clients, the key to success boils down to uncommon common sense. For example, one of my large manufacturing clients is running multiple projects simultaneously. They have been using lean techniques and bringing in consultants who are gurus in…
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Why Ports Delays Could Cost Billions

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Why a $5 Decision Could Cost Your Company Key Customers and Potentially Millions… I’ve been receiving an increased number of calls lately about impacts from the ports – some referred potential clients trying to figure out how to survive through the port slowdown to client concerns about components and equipment expected to come through the port to impacts on inventory costs and customer service levels. Although there hasn’t been a strike, the port slowdown has impacted countless manufacturers and distributors. I heard so much about it that I called my colleague who is an expert at international freight to understand…
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The Power of Dashboards

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I’ve been working with a rapidly growing, smaller client that sees the power of dashboards. I have to tip my hat to them as most $50 and $100 million dollar companies miss the true value in dashboards. They think ahead and results follow. In today’s information overloaded society, leveraging dashboards to make sense of data for rapid decision-making can be priceless. What trends are emerging? Are you 75% through the quarter, and a key customer has only placed 30% of his typical orders? You better be on top of this to be proactive! Which items are profitable? I find that…
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Strategies to Reduce Operational Cost without Capital Investment

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As businesses look to find ways to grow profitably and build efficiencies into the process upfront, maintaining low operational costs remains paramount.  It also provides pricing flexibility as you are able to reduce your breakeven point for covering costs. A few strategies to consider include: 1. Reduce waste – sounds obvious but often requires significant focus. Focus demands priority. Dictating priority doesn’t last long; instead, it must be a priority backed with support when “the going gets rough”.  Reducing waste reduces raw material cost – if raw materials are a significant portion of your business cost, consider prioritizing. If they…
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Often Overlooked Value of Production Planning

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Production planning is often overlooked as to its true value. Perhaps it is because it is often delegated to lower-skilled resources? Or perhaps it is because it is in the center of competing priorities and there are so few expert communicators who can explain its significance? Whatever the reason, consider increasing its priority. I’ve found that the best production planners can have a HUGE impact on the key results of the business – service levels (and ability to grow the business), inventory levels (and resulting cash flow), and margins. Since I’ve been involved with planning from my first job at…
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Why Implementation is the 80/20 of Success

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I’ve had a few client situations arise this week which brings the critical importance of implementation to the forefront. The best plans are useless if not implemented. Similarly, I’d take a “good” plan with an exceptional implementation team any day over a “great” plan with a “so-so” implementation team. For example, if you determine that you can improve your customer service and reduce your inventory levels by implementing a specific plan of action, little is achieved if you do not explain the plan, ask for input, incorporate changes that make sense and provide education and training for the roll out.…
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Trends at the Top

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I find that keeping an eye on trends is one of the best ways to ensure long-term success. If you are able to identify a changing trend early on, you have the opportunity to adjust plans or leverage an unexpected opportunity. In an era where volatility is the new normal, we must be vigilant with trends. In watching trends affecting executives, a few pop to mind: 1. The lack of time – No executives have time. If we can find ways to speed up the process (whether lead times, the time to close the month, or the time to get…
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Benchmarking for Success

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How do you know whether you are reaching your company’s potential?  Is $2 million dollars profit good?  Well, it sounds good…..  However, the key is really in comparison to what should be achievable. One way to understand these objectives is through benchmarking. Benchmarking helps put your performance in perspective with other companies in your industry – and ones that can provide a reasonable comparison. How well do you perform vs. others? How well do you perform vs. other sites in your company? Internal benchmarking can result in a goldmine. Gather this information and put it to good use. Find areas of…
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