I Think I Need a LifeLine
|View From The Ridge: 16|
July 10, 2015
Vice President, Services
We recently held BLUEPrint Nordics, our annual Blue Ridge customer event in the Nordics region. This year the conference took place at Losby Gods, a resort outside of Oslo. The event was a huge success. We had several customers present their experiences and tell how they are transforming business using Supply Chain Analytics from Blue Ridge. Since the conference, I’ve had the chance to visit one customer and three prospective customers. One thing has become very apparent from these experiences. All of these companies have one thing in common- they are looking for a tool, solution, or workflow that will give them a competitive advantage in their supply chain practices. This effort drives from the desire to effectively and efficiently invest the companies’ money. At our conference, we spoke about the notion of better, faster, cheaper. The point was made that very few things meet all three of these objectives. Faster and cheaper is not better. Better and cheaper is not faster, and better and faster is not cheaper. Specifically, we were talking about a native-cloud solution as compared to traditional, on-premise models using old technology that prohibit a company from making any real improvements to their supply chain processes. The same can be said for the practices in your own company regarding how you manage your supply chain. Short cuts (faster) often cause more problems than they correct.
The Five P's
At a former company, I had a colleague who challenged us with the phrase, “proper preparation prevents poor performance.” I quickly became tired of hearing that phrase, but over time it imprinted in my brain. It is so true. When we were talking to both customers and prospects over the past couple of weeks, they all said that the time best spent was in making sure the inputs were correct. They needed to spend time making sure the costs were correct, the profiles were proper, events were set up, and deals were correctly stated. While all of this took time, it was understood that the time was well spent on the preparation. This way, forecast exceptions, due order review, and everything else was smooth. I would suggest that you too get the five P’s imprinted into your brain.
We often go into companies to help them understand why things aren’t going correctly within their supply chain and provide a remediation plan. Recently we were speaking to a company where everything going very well. Then they noticed that over a short period of time they started to experience a gradual reduction in service level. They decided that the solution was to buy more of the important or faster moving items. This resulted in more inventory with no improvement in service. Then they increased the service level targets. Again, the result was more inventory and little improvement in service. Management stepped in and said “TOO MUCH INVENTORY.” The answer was to stop buying for a week. They found lower service and minimal change to inventory. This company was being very reactive, not taking the time to understand what was causing their problems. They finally threw their hands up and said, “This system does not work.” The system was doing exactly what the operators were telling it to do. In reality, the operator was not working. They needed to take a step back and look at the overall situation to determine what they were trying to do and what needed to be done to accomplish their objectives. If you cannot find the time to do it right, you will often have to do it twice (or more).
The Blue Ridge Way
The Blue Ridge Supply Chain Planning solution is a very complex tool. However, we have tried to make the customer interface very intuitive, efficient, and proactive in its alert process. Even with all of our efforts, it takes a knowledgeable team to properly manage the system. It is important to do the preparatory work, not once, but on a continuing basis. Always have a clear understanding of what the problem is that you are trying to solve. Always work with the end in mind. Be proactive rather than reactive. Be sure your user team is well trained with measureable goals and targets.
One last thing to remember. With Blue Ridge Supply Chain Planning you always have a LifeLine. It is not meant to be a replacement for your active management of the system. It is meant to provide two primary things. One is to provide regular contact to help you determine how you are doing. Are you meeting your service? Are your inventory turns where they should be? If not, we can help you decide which factors to focus on. The other purpose is to give you someone to call or email when you are not quite sure what to do. The LifeLine team are experts at SCP and supply chain practices generally. They know how to utilize the solution to meet your business problems. Don’t wait for your boat to capsize before you call for a lifeline. Call early. The only way you will know if the system is performing as intended, and if your results are going to be what you need, is for you to always prepare and be prepared.
Know where you are trying to go. Begin with the end in mind. Some of the sayings that people have, while seemingly insignificant, are actually very good to keep in mind. They will serve to guide your actions. The five P’s are good. When you start to take a short cut, just to get something done, remember, “Take the time to do it right, rather than the time to do it twice.” Take a consultative approach to system management. Make sure you fully understand the company’s objective and how to utilize the tool to get you there.
The last one is a very good phrase from a television show. When you are not sure or confused or just perplexed remember, “I want to call my Lifeline.” You can reach the LifeLine team at firstname.lastname@example.org or by phone at 877 547-0346.
We are here to make you successful.