Tag Archive: operations strategy

Demand Planning Best Practices

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Sales and operations planning processes are key to improving service levels, accelerating cash flow and increasing margins.  Thus, it is worth pursuing the seemingly simple process of aligning demand and supply and your executive team on one plan.  It must start with the demand plan. 1. Talk with customers – it is surprising how often this secret to success is overlooked and not utilized.  Your customers will provide a wealth of information if you ask. 2. Review the data for trends – don’t get sucked into the data black hole!  Instead, review data for trends.  Are sales increasing in a certain area…
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Systems Pragmatist: 6 Essential Ideas to Drive Business Results

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As I’ve been going through my hundreds of articles to put together the 100 tips, it’s become obvious as to which topics resonated with me as essential to delivering bottom line business results.  Here are six areas of focus from the process and systems perspective: 1. Base processes – Too often, the foundation is overlooked.  A simple yet essential starting point. 2. Process improvement – You can use tools such as Lean, the Toyota Production Systems or just uncommon common sense.  Look for areas to improve. 3. ERP Selection – Focus on critical success factors and the rest will fall into place. 4.…
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Is Outsourcing Dead?

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GE has started to rev up Appliance Park again – and is starting to bring manufacturing back to the U.S. A few of my key contacts and clients have asked about re-shoring. The buzz in the news is beginning to focus on re-shoring. Add it all up – re-shoring to North America is definitely on the rise. Are you positioned to leverage this new trend? First, it makes sense to think through WHY we’d be thinking of re-shoring. There are several key points to consider: 1) Service & quality. 2) Speed & flexibility. 3) Cash. 4) Total Cost. 5) Risk.…
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Hidden Opportunities for Process Improvement

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Take any business process. I have no doubt there will be hidden opportunities for process improvement. When is the last time you looked at your processes? You could follow a program such as lean manufacturing, the Toyota Production System, Total Quality Management and the like. Continuous process improvement builds in change as part of the corporate culture. Or, you can just take a fresh look at your processes. You’ll be surprised by what a review could uncover. A few methods to help uncover hidden opportunities include the following: 1. Ask the people performing the process – Outrageously simple? Possibly; however, in my…
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E-Commerce is No Longer an Option

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Are you offering e-commerce options for your customers? If not, you’ll be left in the dust! It is no longer an option for companies if success is an objective. E-commerce eliminates time and distance as barriers – who can afford not to offer customers a way to get “what they want when they want it”? Better yet, it is often at better margins to boot! For example, according to Modern Distribution Management’s 2013 State of E-commerce in Distribution, the number of distributors whose e-commerce revenue comprises 5-10% of total revenue has grown by 50% since last year. Substantial! E-commerce has…
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Outsourcing, In-sourcing, Near-sourcing?

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For many years, companies outsourced as a natural course of activity. Unfortunately, often times, they didn’t even perform an analysis of the total benefit; instead, everyone else was outsourcing and so CEOs, Board of Directors and the like expected it to occur. Now, I host executive discussions and the topic arises in reverse. Let’s bring back manufacturing to the U.S. Even Walmart is promoting their investment into U.S. manufacturing…. Of course, I advocate looking at the facts. It is not so easy to move factories, equipment and people all around. Take stock of what you are doing and consider the following factors: 1.…
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Watching Metrics Trends

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One of the keys to success for any business is to watch metrics trends. In my experience, if a client watches key trends, they tend to be more successful than most. If they don’t, they struggle. Fortunately and unfortunately, it is as simple as that. One of the first questions I ask when I work with a manufacturing or distribution client relates to metrics. Which do they track? Why? What does the trend look like? I often find clients who track all sorts of metrics; however, I rarely find clients who not only track trends but watch the trends. It seems…
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