Supply Chain Blog

NHS UK Supply Chain Waste: Planning challenges require extreme patience

Posted by Dave Jordan on Thu, Sep 28, 2017

I have spent some considerable time visiting medical facilities both at home and in UK and in the latter case I was not impressed. The National Health Service is still the envy of the rest of the world and rightly so. When you consider the policies and procedures in other countries the people who benefit from the NHS really should not complain about a 4 hour wait as you will be seen and you will not be asked if your bank card is contactless before you get to see a medical professional.

The NHS is struggling but I think that is partly due to people using the A&E facilities for an ingrowing toe nail or a stomach upset after a magmaloo curry (search that and Jasper Carrott) the night before. The strain on the service would be a lot less if treatment really was restricted to people who have bits hanging off and when life is under threat.

There is another area where the NHS struggles and that is on their supply chain. Yes, it is of course complicated; it is hard to demand forecast what accidents and illnesses will be wheeled through the doors and it is a supply chain that must deliver. Essentially everything should be available, everywhere at all times of the day in a non-stop operation. You cannot be out of stock on surgical sutures and make do with a bit of masking tape or ask the patient to "press firmly here" until replenishment arrives.

As a result, I saw horrendous waste on an hourly basis. Medicines, bandages, food (yes, I know it's not too clever anyway), utilities and perhaps most importantly, staff time and beds. At a time when the NHS is thought to be lacking beds I thought this was perhaps the most serious fault as waiting time for beds is high. Indeed, many non-urgent operations are cancelled as beds are apparently not available. Yet, beds were vacant and beds were still occupied by cured and dressed patients waiting for transport home.

SUPPLY_CHAIN_PLANNING_FORECASTING.jpgDrugs were delivered for people who had been discharged or even sadly died. Not one bit of this was deliberate but there appeared to be a frailty of planning. I am certainly not suggesting the operation of a 24/7 nationwide NHS is an easy operation to run but I do feel some of the waste listed earlier can be avoided but not by rigidly sticking to current practises and procedures. That clever bloke Einstein defined doing the same thing over and over again and expecting different results, as insanity.

I would be similarly insane to say all the problems can be solved easily but when I met with the equivalent of the Ops Director at one major hospital in an English city currently without any Premier League teams, I was rather shocked. There was tacit agreement that numerous problems existed and there was an understanding of the improvement suggestions I made but then she bluntly played the Einstein card. You can only advise the NHS IF you have previously advised the NHS. What? Surely that is a recipe for a rapidly downwards spiral of inefficiency leading to collapse. Think out of the box!

I believe the NHS could learn from industry and even correction of a few basic errors mostly linked to simple data and information flow could deliver substantial sums. In 2015/16 the NHS budget was £116 billion, yes 116 billion of our weakening pounds. That is a serious amount of money that is not being well spent in some areas, in my humble opinion.

I asked the Ops Director what her biggest challenge was and I expected the answer to be a secure electricity supply or clean water or drugs availability etc, but was just a little surprised to hear she gets the greatest grief from bosses when...... the entry barrier does not work on the visitor car park.

Image courtesy of Stuart Miles at freedigitalphotos.net

 

Tags: Dave Jordan, Performance Improvement, Supply Chain, Forecasting & Demand Planning

FMCG CEE Route To Market: Importance of relationships

Posted by Dave Jordan on Tue, Sep 26, 2017

You have great brands and brand awareness, a fantastic internal supply chain, tight financial control, top class HR, a top-notch sales force, innovative marketing - surely a recipe for success in CEE? Surely this must be the case? Sadly, not always and some big-name companies frequently get this important relationship badly wrong.

Blue chip companies with internal operational excellence continue to flounder when serving the Traditional Trade in CEE. Admittedly, this trade channel has reduced in importance over the past years but it still accounts for a sizable portion of markets which will return to good growth sooner or later. International Key Accounts and Local Key Accounts will continue to take share in urban areas but in a country as vast as Romania, for example they will not conquer the rural market in the medium term.

Producers need knowledgeable and reliable Route To Market partners to reach the smaller corner shop outlets. There is no shortage of operators willing to be distributors for big name clients but how many of them are really equipped and ready to do the job properly? Producers are often guilty of placing their reputations and ultimately profits, in the hands of enthusiastic amateurs. In the sporting definition, true amateurs do not get paid for their work and distributors do not get paid by producers when they fail to meet targets.

Unfortunately, instead of doing something about the short-comings of distributors, producers proudly celebrate securing penalties or better terms through negotiating against poor performance. What is the point of doing that? Instead of carping on about how poor these "partners" are why not get out there and help them?

You cannot build houses on sand yet producers expect distributors to swiftly dove-tail into their in-house processes, IT, style, ethics, reporting schedule etc. Yes, they probably exaggerated their capabilities and readiness during the pitch but you should be able to see through that or at least be ready to quickly assess capability.

Is it any wonder why so many distributors go under when they are not considered partners and in some cases, are believed to be a hindrance? Distributors do not deliberately make mistakes that lead to their own reduced income. They too are in business to make a few Euros to take home at the end of the month.FMCG_RTM_DISTRIBUTORS_PARTNERSHIPS.jpgProducers need to look closely at the capability matrix offered by their distributors (or more importantly, potential distributors) and in most cases, this will not match up to requirements. Do something about this; build capability where it lacks and you will reap the benefits in having proactive partners going that extra kilometre to make a sale for you.

Those FMCG producers who are in tune with distributors strengths and weaknesses AND do something about the latter will be in pole position with a Ferrari while less wise competitors are at the back of the grid with a horse and cart. The route to your end market can be a lot easier than you fear.

Image courtesy of Stuart Miles at freedigitalphotos.net

 

 

FMCG Cost Control: Boosting Brewing Bottom Lines

Posted by Dave Jordan on Tue, Sep 19, 2017

Picture the scene in many a brewing boardroom; a terse note has arrived from the suits at HQ telling the boss to urgently reduce costs as the year-end result is not going to look pretty. Why do all the board directors then look silently at their supply chain colleague? Of course, there are significant costs associated with a modern supply chain but you cannot make significant savings from that infrastructure overnight.  Supply chain budgets very rarely contain significant discretionary spend unlike the bank busting sums in the pockets of sales and marketing!

BREWING_COST_SAVINGS_BOTTOM_LINE_FMCG.jpgAs is usually the case, let us assume the SC team is constantly looking at ways to reduce cost in factories, logistics networks, 3PLPs, planning etc. What other costs could be challenged without causing discontinuity and unnecessary stress in the company?  The SC usually leads any cost efficiency projects which I think is fair enough as the discipline is most familiar with cost control and challenge.

Here are 5 areas I feel are always worthy of visiting when looking for "low-hanging fruit" bottom line benefits.   

  1. Old promotions, soon to expire stock, old artwork/label stock, slow movers. All companies (particularly FMCG) will have some or all of this and for various reasons - some good, some not so good. If you do not routinely address this you will be hit with an unexpected loss at year end or at the next stock count. Bring the list to the board meeting and hold accountable the actual people responsible for creating the stock in the first place. Sell it out and stop paying for storage too!
  2. Promotional activity. Is it all really necessary and does it actually pay back? Do you know how much of that original pristine packaging assembled in the factory is destroyed in the name of the latest promotional whim? Plastic film, outer cases and trays litter the floors of repacking operations everywhere. You have paid for that original packaging and now you are paying someone to destroy that and replace it with fresh material. Just think of all those Dollars/Euros that could be spent in a much more customer focussed way or simply saved? When you consider all the extra labour, logistics and packaging material just how much value is really generated for your business?

  3. How many SKUs do you need? Do you know how many your business has when you include all the promos and specials? Every single SKU costs money to source, transport, plan, store and deliver. Plus, the more you have the more likely you will generate the problem discussed in point 1 above. Analyse your current portfolio and see what is really driving value in your company. Conversely, see what is sucking value out of the business at the other end of the scale. Every extra low value SKU clogs up the wheels of your Sales & Operational Planning (S&OP) process.

  4. Telephones and internet. Always a difficult area as it can be perceived to be petty but it is usually an uncontrolled drain on cash. If you have provided staff with internet access on laptops or tablets or telephones you can be sure you are funding personal surfing time. Unless free telephone calls are part of the remuneration package why should the employee not pay for them? In my experience, significant cash can be saved through just a little prudence in this area. Do you leave your telephone network open at night with unlimited international dialling access? Also, the next time you see 2 people in the same office talking to each other on company mobile phones.......

  5. Discretionary spend. Don't make it discretionary! If budgets exist for team building and entertainment you can bet your life those funds will be used. Do you really need to "team build" every year? These occasions tend to be considered as a perk of the job and I am not convinced of their value when they happen so often. If team building sessions are to go then you should ensure this applies to all departments. Letting the marketing team building slip through will simply demotivate the rest of the company.

Achieving visible buy-in at the top table which is cascaded to teams will generate the best initiatives and ensure alignment. Paying consistent attention to these and other cost areas might save you from the ultimate saving of issuing redundancy notices including possibly, your own!

Image courtesy of Pixomar at freedigitalphotos.net

Tags: Brewing & Beverages, FMCG, Dave Jordan, Forecasting & Demand Planning, Cost Reduction

FMCG Turn-around Intensive Care Recovery KPIs

Posted by Dave Jordan on Wed, Sep 06, 2017

On a daily basis the amount of care we give to the human body is remarkably little. When you are feeling in good shape the best the body can hope for is a good wash, a brush of the teeth and a slap of moisturiser if you are a bit of a girly. What else? Haircut and manicure perhaps oh, and possibly a check that your weight has not dropped that desired 10% overnight.

Considering the complexity of the human body and how we cannot live without it we do not spend too much time analysing how it is performing. We probably spend more attention on our cars and IT gadgets. Why is my PC running so slow? The car is overheating, I must check this now. Such symptoms are immediately of prime importance and top of mind and must be addressed now!

This all changes when we are feeling unwell. Suddenly we are taking our temperature, blood pressure and pulse rate. Blood tests may be needed. You may be wired up to monitor to see how the heart or brain is functioning. The body is now getting the intensive care it needs in hospital. Recording and monitoring this raft of data is the route to a hopefully full and speedy recovery.

FMCG_RECOVERY_SUPPLY_CHAIN_KPIS.jpgIf your business is operating well and there is even some growth in these testing times then the usual keep fit-heart monitoring Balanced Scorecard KPIs are reported weekly or monthly. The focus is usually on getting your stuff to customers and onto shelves at the right time, in the correct quantity and at the lowest cost. Along with other company measures, e.g. finance, HR, SHEQA, the scorecard shows the health of the business.

When all is not going smoothly however, the Balanced Scorecard may need supplementing with other measures. In companies where sales are below expectations and cash flow has dried up you need intensive care focus in that area. This does not mean you stop generating the Balanced Scorecard as this will contain important financial and non-financial measures. Instead, you need to place the sensors in the critical locations.

What about when things are not going well? Measuring the usual set of KPIs is all very well but when you are in a mess you need some intensive care. For businesses struggling with tight cash flow here are top ten tips for some relatively simple Recovery KPIs:

  1. Sales-out Sales-in do not guarantee you a final cash sale to a consumer so focus on the final sales transaction.
  2. Discounts Control how much discounting is taking place by those generous sales people. Is it authorised in advance and at the correct level?
  3. Debtor Days This is money owed to you so negotiate favourable terms and constantly review. If 60 days has been in place for years then it is about time this was challenged so apply some pressure.
  4. Creditor Days You owe this money but if you upset suppliers they will stop supplying! Renegotiate where possible and do your best to pay on time as you never know when you really need a favour.
  5. Overdues Where money is due to you and has exceeded the agreed terms you need a persuader to get on top of late payers.
  6. Forecast Accuracy Do not look at every single SKU; apply segmentation principles. Determine which SKUs are important and make a healthy profit, focus here.
  7. Lost Sales Investigate every significant lost sale and systematically apply a 100-year fix so mistakes do not recur.
  8. Potential write off Monitor stock age internally and at distributors and avoid this criminal cash waste.
  9. RM/PM stock If you are overstocked you should not re-order and you might consider selling some items. Your stocks should be aligned with those important SKUs identified above.
  10. Finished Goods stock Again, ensure your key SKUs are always available in the required quantities. Promote any excess or slow-moving stocks to generate income and minimise potential write off.

In addition to the sensible tight control of discretionary spend this approach can stabilise your vital signs and guide you back to a healthy glow without the intensive glare of the suits from HQ.

Imag courtesy of moggara12 at freedigitalphotos.net 

 

Tags: FMCG, KPI, Supply Chain, Cost Reduction, Inventory Management & Stock Control, balanced scorecard, Recovery