Supply Chain Blog

FMCG – Hunkering down for Supply Chain Analytics

Posted by Dave Jordan on Wed, Aug 24, 2016

Have you ever “hunkered down”? I remember being asked to hunker down during a supply chain training course many years ago and I had no idea what I was supposed to do. Eventually I had to ask as failing to follow the hunker downwards request appeared to be causing a bit of a problem for the presenter.

This hunkering failure occurred during one of the many versions of the Beer Game in which I have taken part or run over the years. Anyone who has been involved with supply chain activities will probably have taken part in the Beer Game, or the Moussy Game as it is sometimes known in dry countries of the Middle East.

What does the beer game do? The rules are relatively simple and in summary the overall objective is to meet consumer demand for cases of beer in a complex, extended supply chain while controlling unplanned expense on back orders and inventory. The game involves four overlapping and inter-dependent supply chains, i.e. manufacturing, distribution, procurement and a retail outlet. There is a cost penalty for holding excess stock and any backlog unfulfilled orders.

Players rely on colleagues in the other departments to do the right things for the business but frustration soon surfaces. Usually, things do not go well and players feel frustrated because they are not getting the results they expect. Assumptions are made about consumer demand and erratic patterns emerge as backlogs mount and/or massive unnecessary stocks accumulate. It was at this stage in the game I was told to “hunker down……….”.

Does that sound like your own supply chain – not the hunkering bit? Frustration is common between departments who all aim to do the right thing but only have the necessary data and information to do the right thing for their specific area of responsibility at that specific time. Even after careful consideration and informed debate, the real effect of an adjustment can only be seen in the future.

supply_chain_analytics_fmcg_inventory_performance.jpgIF - a big if -  nothing else changes and all assumptions are correct and accurate then there is a chance the desired effect will develop. However, life is not like that and certainly not supply chain life. What can happen?

New launches kick-in and are successful, or not.

Competition by definition is designed to disrupt your plans.

The weather turns out rather different to the forecast.

The economy takes a turn up or down.

Factories, 3PLPs and distributors all suffer performance variability.

Customers and consumers change their needs and habits.

Etc., etc., etc., this list really is endless. Absolutely anything can happen to turn apparently sensible decisions into foolish, forecast failure.

Hey, what about all that IT we have? Doesn’t that help us understand what is going on? This should tell us what is really going to happen in supply chains? No, not necessarily. Common supply chain IT tells us what has happened, what is happening, where and when but not precisely why an event happened or what will happen.

Subtle differences perhaps but to up your game you need to hunker down with Supply Chain Analytics to gain a full unexpurgated understanding of how changes you make today will impact the future and more importantly, how you can change that future.

Yes, you can.

Image courtesy of Enchange at Enchange.com

Tags: IT, Supply Chain Analytics, FMCG, CEO, Inventory Management & Stock Control, Customer service

Frock Stocks & FMCG Supply Chain Inventory Decisions

Posted by Dave Jordan on Thu, Aug 04, 2016

Senior Management has been on quite a shopping spree over the last few months taking advantage of various big name high street stores that have lost their lustre and even their premises in some cases. The demise of these familiar UK brands has nothing to do with Brexit and the variable value of Sterling but in one case a run on the Green pound has been responsible…..

Of course this has had several knock-on effects and not least the amount of money “invested” in clothes and shoes is now significant and that money is largely sunk - the market for unwanted or out of style apparel being extremely limited. I hate to think how much money is hanging in the wardrobe but that raises a second issue.

The trusty old Grink pine wardrobe from IKEA has reached capacity. As a result, the small Allen Keys have been out causing blistered fingers in order to erect another Grink plus a wall mounted Plop shoe tidy. Another investment to store items that are not in regular use. In fact, if you consider that the vast majority of clothes and shoes are seasonal, at any one time most of the space is taken with things you would not dream of wearing. Fake leather Boots in August? A floral summer dress in December? (NB Northern hemisphere before someone comments!) A Superwoman onesie at any time!

FMCG_INVENTORY_STOCK_SERVICE_CONTROL.jpgWith so many clothes squeezed into the now two Grinks they are so full that finding anything in a reasonable time is difficult. Senior Management might well be correct that there is a perfect dress in there for a particular special event but can you find it? Sooner or later all recollection of what is in the wardrobes has been lost as the memory grey matter section diminishes.

Worse still, fashion trends do not stand still so what was a “must have” last year may be considered an insult to the designer where they to be worn the following season, luvvie!  

So, what have we got and what have many, many FMCG and pharmaceutical companies?

High working capital – all that money tied up on stock that may not be useful.

High storage costs –  you will be paying too much for storage whether you manage logistics internally or outsource to a 3/4PLP. (Don’t expect them to reveal that you are storing too much!)

FIFO - stock age is not monitored and write offs persist. Old stock is not liquidated before expensively assembled relaunches hit the shelves. You do not actually know what is there contributing to ongoing working capital.

High stock shrinkage – loss and damage have a higher incidence when stock is not correctly monitored and inventory levels are kept high – harder to miss.

Stock accuracy - cycle and annual stock counts are difficult to execute and usually provide unwanted shocks at reporting period ends.

Efficiency -  when warehouse capacity utilisation above 80%, operational efficiency stalls and soon plummets. Picking becomes a hazard and the warehouse simply does not have sufficient doors to move goods in and out.

When supply chain processes are inefficient and specifically inventory build decisions are not fully assessed and evaluated, you inevitably overstock as planners do not know what else they should do to protect sales and customer service. Conversely, when this happens you actually lose sales and offer poor customer service.

Does this provide the basis for a profitably growing business? Of course not but so many companies remain oblivious to the processes applied and decisions that are taken that bulk-out the supply chain.

Image courtesy of photostock at freedigitalphotos.net

Tags: Inventory Management & Stock Control, Supply Chain Analytics, FMCG, Pharma, Customer service

Postman Pat, Postman Pat, Postman Pat & his Supply Chain hat

Posted by Dave Jordan on Wed, Jul 06, 2016

I recently peeped outside of the FMCG and Pharmaceutical world and took a look at the amount of empty beds in the National Health Service in UK and how a little alternative thinking plus basic demand and supply planning expertise could improve bed utilisation. Today it is the turn of the Royal Mail and all those “black and white cat” postie types to be in line for my critique. 

Before you say that the Royal Mail is not a proper supply chain, it is a supply chain and a very complicated one at that. Apart from the reducing but still significant Christmas card peak, this is a business that cannot really forecast how many letters and parcels will be dropped into Post Offices and Post Boxes for delivery on a daily basis. Or perhaps they can or should? Is it any different from the daunting, daily, dynamic demand volatility experienced in Tesco, Asda and Aldi etc.?

Anyway, that is not the issue on this occasion but it is about the Royal Mail redirection service which should be a very straightforward formality. You move to a new address and pay the Royal Mail to keep an eye on your letters and parcels and forward them to your new abode. This is not as simple as it sounds as finding that gas bill in a plain brown envelope must be very close to searching for a needle in a haystack. Nevertheless, they have been doing this for ages and in large numbers so should be very proficient.

FMCG_MAIL_POSTAL_SUPPLY_CHAIN_SERVICE.jpgNot this time. They got it horribly wrong from day one and continued to do so as even “signed for” mail which must be capable of automatic sorting was sent to the old address. Luckily we are still in the locality and in contact with the remaining Neanderthal student residents who in their few conscious periods send vowel-free texts letting us know Postman Pat has left something in the heiress’s name. Before they have the chance to eat or smoke what has arrived we quickly pop down and rescue items that slipped through the redirect net. That net must have holes the size of Ronaldo’s ego.

After repeated telephone calls and emails and the release of only a minor amount of my pent up frustration from afar, Postman Pat has refunded all costs and is now carrying out the service – very efficiently now, incidentally – free of charge. What a waste of time, energy and other resources!

I have no idea what the inside of a sorting office looks like or what processes and procedures are in place or their daily challenges but failure to carry out core advertised service is very disappointing. Delivering enveloped and packaged mail is what they do best; if they cannot get that right then what chance do they have with other value added services?

Walk into a pub on a scorching day (ok, so that is not going to be in UK) to be told sorry, no beer. Step into a supermarket to find no bread, milk, tea or cheese! Pull up at the McDonalds drive-in to be told no fries today - actually no bad thing!

You have to get the basics right or your credibility with existing and potential new clients is severely limited. Some organisations bend over backwards to gain new business and rightly so but why don’t they bend further backwards to keep that business? In FMCG and Pharma I find business retention is far harder than finding it in the first place.

Image courtesy of Ohmega1982 at freedigitalphotos.net

 

 

Tags: Customer service, FMCG, Performance Improvement, Pharma, Forecasting & Demand Planning

FMCG: Will retailing the Amazon way see off the discounters?

Posted by Dave Jordan on Wed, Oct 14, 2015

Romania has not yet bought into online FMCG supermarket retailing in a big way. There have been some trials, tribulations and a few errors but online retailing here is this nothing like on the scale seen in UK, for example. As a tourist in Birmingham recently I awoke early due to the 2 hour time difference and decided on some breakfast retail therapy to pass the time.

Firstly, I had to negotiate the huge queue of students (going out or coming in?) and high-visibility vested workers waiting patiently for a very early dose of bakery products. Pizza slice, omelette in a bread bun and sausage rolls for breakfast? Aaaagggghhhh! There is even a Gregg’s loyalty rewards programme.

Anyway, avoiding the admittedly tempting smell of warm savoury dough I entered the large store of one of the UK’s dwindling retail giants. I say dwindling as Aldi and Lidl continue to erode their business base at a seemingly unstoppable pace. Being early in the day there were few shoppers around but the activity in the store was high due to the number of employees dashing about with trollies and scanners making up online orders.

Some moved frantically like Edward Scissorhands fulfilling orders at top speed while others dawdled along as if browsing in a shoe shop to avoid the rain. Do they assemble more than one order at a time or is it strictly a sort of online retail FIFO? What was clear was the appalling route planning.

Of all people, shop employees should now where all the products are displayed. Yes, the retailers do chop and change to try and trick us into spending longer instore and buying stuff we didn’t actually come in for but such changes are relatively infrequent. So why did these order pickers move around the store floor like balls in a faulty pinball machine?

Repeated returns were made to the same aisles to collect and scan further items for their orders. “Time is money“ and in this case time was what was being wasted. You may argue that the home deliveries all have time slots so rapid assembly is not vital but you could offer more slots to consumers or dare I say it, reduce the number of pickers employed.

As online shopping increases these huge outlets are potentially transforming into warehouses where the only activity is stock put-away and order picking. This may be on a smaller scale than by pallet load or case picking in a Distribution Centre but the exact same priority principles apply, i.e. ensure your know where the stock sits and that fast movers are readily available for rapid picking and order assembly. Maybe the retailers could learn a few things from logistics companies which will help to stem the discounter tide.

How far could we develop this approach? Are we likely to see any retailer go down the Amazon route where everything is online and consumers and retailers never the twain shall meet? Probably not but while in this flux between old fashioned aisle surfing by consumers and faceless fulfillment, the retailers may as well put a bit more thought into their order picking and assembly processes.

With that in mind I will just log onto GetGreggs.com (you saw it first here) and get a sausage & bean melt and a toffee finger doughnut delivered, now!

Image courtesy of jscreationzs at freedigitalphotos.net

Tags: Customer service, FMCG, Dave Jordan, Logistics Management, Inventory Management & Stock Control

FMCG Success Story: Focus on Customers - see the Benefits

Posted by Dave Jordan on Wed, Oct 07, 2015

 Once upon a time there was an FMCG company that I will refer to as “Foresight”. “Foresight” had spent many years and many Euros creating an acknowledged slick Supply Chain.

Top class regional and global buying
  • Flexible and cost effective factory network
  • State of the art ERP
  • Rigorous S&OP/IBP with top team buy-in.

With all those important boxes ticked they must be successful…..but they were not; not even close. In their peer group they were not number 1 and top & bottom line growth was getting harder and harder. Throw in an untimely and lengthy recession and the consumption of their product range plummeted – double digit style. A significant FMCG business and quite a few personal reputations were not looking pretty.

The problem was a surprising lack of focus on the customer end of the Supply Chain. Both International Key Accounts (IKA) and the Traditional Trade (TT) were being poorly serviced.

A lot of hard work upstream was being wasted through inefficiency and frankly, ignorance. The situation had existed for a number of years but as the same malaise was common in the industry nobody could see the benefit or indeed the need for “getting ones act together”. “Last amongst equals” was hardly a motivating and compelling business proposition for an international big name player.

Seeking external expert assistance “Foresight” started out on an adventure that would change the way they approached business at the customer end of the chain.

Customer Service.   This was something “Foresight” thought it was already good at providing but critical aspects were lacking:

  • Customer Service responsibilities were fragmented and lacked clear and unambiguous leadership.
  • Customer Service personnel had received no training in the subject - nobody really wanted to take responsibility.
  • Customer Service was actually limited to issuing and chasing invoices. Proactive interaction with customers and problem solution were not in the job descriptions.

This hardly projected an image of a caring “Foresight” and this was a huge risk considering the increasing power of the retailers…. 

Route To Market (RTM). “This is under control for TT and it seems to work”, however RTM was in the Sales black box and that box needed opening and shaking up and down vigorously!

  • The Distributor RTM network had been in place for several years and was decaying and the “Foresight” sales interaction with Distributors was far from a win-win relationship.
  • Several Distributors were simply incapable and/or ill equipped to represent such a major company. Some actually did not wish to be involved.
  • “Foresight” did not know who they could rely on in their network or how large and obvious opportunities could be targeted.
  • Bonus linked sell-in was the focus and the remaining steps to the consumer were ignored at “Foresight” level and left in the hands of some indifferent distributors.

The cures were not simple or quick but they were effective and the payback was fast and sustained. What happened?

The cures were not simple or quick but they were effective and the payback was fast and sustained. What happened?

“Foresight” now operates a centralised Customer Service department looking after customer needs in a standardised and caring manner. Phone calls are answered by someone who wants to help and the customer is not passed from pillar to post trying to find someone interested in their problem. Retailers now see CS staff face to face as they proactively take steps to understand the needs of both sides of the partnership. The Retailer office was once “sales only” and off bounds to other departments but not now and the benefit is clear and significant.

In RTM, “Foresight” carried out a comprehensive assessment of their distributor network making evaluations of all aspects of each distributor’s organisation. The strengths and weaknesses of each partner are now known and understood. “Foresight” now knows where there is receiver capacity to take more responsibility and a leading role in market deployment. Similarly, they also know to tread carefully with a number of distributors who are struggling financially or simply not equipped to meet expectations. “Foresight” efforts are now focused on those areas, providing maximum opportunity and reward. The “one size fits all” approach has gone and distributors are managed as individual and important partners.

In combination these changes have transformed the business and success has been quick to materialise.  “Foresight” enjoys a leading position in its sector while competitors scrap around trying to find growth that is there but they cannot reach.

For “Foresight” at least, they really are able to live happily ever after!

Image courtesy of David Castillo Dominici at freedigitalphotos.net

Tags: Customer service, FMCG, Dave Jordan, Sales, RTM Assessment Tool

FMCG Supply Chain & the Rugby World Cup

Posted by Dave Jordan on Wed, Sep 09, 2015

The Rugby World Cup is upon us once more and this time it is in the northern hemisphere and in UK. Therefore rain can be expected throughout the tournament.

Rugby is a strange sport in some ways. The forwards are the incredibly big blokes (yes, and girls too now) who seldom score and the backs are the more nimble bodied (but still relatively large) who carry out most of the scoring. In a majority of sports you score goals or points but in rugby you get rewarded for a “try” and a “conversion “which sounds a bit wishy-washy and indecisive if you are not a follower of the game. Do supporters shout “try” when one is scored? Not sure but I doubt they shout “conversion” even after disposing of a few pints.

You also have to pass the ball backwards in order to make progress and move forwards so that presents a challenge in rugby supply chain terms. In supply chains you are generally pushing (yes, in good times it is a pull) everything forward towards the consumer shelf, continually honing your route to market (RTM). Anything coming in the reverse direction is usually poorly planned, unwanted, expired or damaged goods and that easily sticks a spanner in an otherwise slick supply chain.

FMCG_SUPPLY_CHAIN_RUGBY_TEAMThe rugby ball is not round; nowhere near a perfect sphere (but it s a spheroid) and when kicked it reminds me of an FMCG sales forecast – no, please stay with me. Have you ever seen a rugby ball bounce after being kicked forward and into the sky? If the ball is not caught cleanly the shape means it could actually bounce in any direction at any speed and change both at any time without any warning, i.e. impossible to predict. Sounds familiar?

You could also imagine the scrum being the supply chain team grunting and groaning and expending mammoth sweat and effort to prevent the competition from getting to the target, i.e. the ball. You then watch as the backs (a.k.a. FMCG salesmen) stride on and take all the credit and kudos for the entre process! Sounds familiar again? In rugby it is not quite like that as team spirit is very real and paramount but in FMCG life that is far too often the reality. In rugby your department or position does not matter and the whole team is focused on scoring points or tries and conversions.

The winners of the 2015 World Cup will probably be New Zealand but there is just a small chance, a very teeny-weeny chance that England could win. Such a result would mean the English rugby supply chain was slick and fast with customer service approaching 100%

I have not yet found a way to use cricket to illustrate supply chain excellence but I will keep thinking.

Image courtesy of Digitalart at freedigitalphotos.net

Tags: Customer service, FMCG, Supply Chain, Sales

FMCG SKU Complexity E-book: Free Download

Posted by Dave Jordan on Wed, Feb 18, 2015
FMCG COMPLEXITY S&OP EBOOK FREE resized 600

The English dictionary lists the definition of complexity as “the state or quality of being intricate or complicated: an issue of great complexity”.

Wikipedia defines complexity in great detail and starts with “In general usage, complexity tends to be used to characterize something with many parts in intricate arrangement”.

Sales & Marketing people routinely define SKU complexity as ‘those items vitally important to the future of the company, the country, the global economy and possibly the planet."

Supply Chain people define SKU complexity as “what Sales and Marketing insist on to make our lives difficult.”

The reality is somewhere in the middle of all these views.

Based on our work with over 100 global, regional and local companies we have produced an E-book which may help you understand and manage SKU complexity in your FMCG or Pharmaceutical Supply Chains.

How much complexity is really necessary?

 

Image courtesy of antpkr at freedigital photos.net

Tags: Customer service, SKU, FMCG, Dave Jordan, Humour, Supply Chain, Sales

FMCG Retailers: IKAs need to get their own Supply Chain act together

Posted by Dave Jordan on Wed, Jan 21, 2015

A sweeping generalisation I know, but generally Supply Chain Directors who serve International Key Account (IKA) customers are small in stature. This is not by way of genetics or natural selection; it is just the simple physical result of being bashed on the head by IKA clients complaining about poor service. The repetitive bashing compresses the spine resulting in decreased height and consequently, wider feet.

Of course, IKA clients are important and in many locations they can generate the vast majority of your turnover but frequently they have their heads in the clouds over the reality of service expectations. Certainly, there should be a clear contract or Service Level Agreement (SLA) which defines what is expected by both parties and the KPIs required to monitor performance. If service falls below the required level then a sensible way forward is to jointly discuss the causes and apply a fix. If a promised SKU is out of stock due to a Producer error then fair enough, apply the penalties and get the Supply Chain Director rubber hammer out.

Unfortunately, IKAs tend to be a just a little bit selective when it comes to FMCG service! The producer truck arrives outside of the allocated time slot – apply penalties and reject the shipment. Producer trucks on time, IKA delays in unloading – tough, just wait. Internal IKA promotion exceeds expectation, producer cannot replenish unexpected demand then the IKA referee gets out the whistle and awards a penalty. Producer needs to push a new promotion to increase turnover – more listing fees please.

You may say that this desire to operate at optimum efficiency and with stock always available is creditable as it provides final consumers with what they want, when they want. However, recently I experienced a classic “pot-kettle-black” situation with a big name IKA.

FMCG IKA SUPPLY CHAIN SERVICE resized 600I recently used the online ordering service one of the large UK retailers who seem to have missed the competitive approach of Aldi and Lidl. The order was to provide for a Christmas dinner for 6 guests so the order was comprehensive and long. Virtually everything that was required to eat, drink, pull and clean up was carefully ordered online and a low cost delivery slot selected for the evening before the event. As requested I had also specified alternatives should some items be out of stock or out of date.

With matchsticks keeping my eyes open as the driver was late I greeted the jolly man and he started to unload the delivery boxes (every student has at least one; how many of these do IKAs lose?). You can possibly see where I am going with this but let us look at what did not arrive:

No turkey stuffing.

No milk.

No bread.

No sparkling wine

No Christmas crackers and more importantly, no silly hats to wear at dinner.

Oh, and the posh soft cheese had been squashed to a few mm thickness.

No substitutions, no apology and no way of applying a penalty even though I would have to drive out unexpectedly the following morning to secure the important omissions. Just not good enough.

IKAs have moved themselves out of the cosy world of in-store retailing where they sit back and let consumers graze the aisles to select what is on the shelves. Now they are trying their hand at providing Supply Chain services and they are clearly not very good at it, yet. Out of stocks, missed delivery slots and damage leading to disappointed customers with apparently no responsibility and no way of recourse.

Well, there is though and that is to spend more of your money in Aldi and Lidl! Online ordering and home delivery are here to stay but get the basics right quickly or it is another nail in the coffin of large retailers and another dip for the share prices.

Image courtesy of marin at freedigitalphotos.net

Tags: Customer service, FMCG, Dave Jordan, Supply Chain, Sales

FMCG: New Top Ten Supply Chain Improvement Resolutions for 2015

Posted by Dave Jordan on Wed, Jan 07, 2015
Insanity: doing the same thing over and over again and expecting different results.

Albert Einstein


How many of you will be reaching for an electric cigarette or giving up smoking altogether for the New Year?  How long will it be before visits to the gym trickle away? Will you get 5 portions of fruit and vegetables a day or will that take-away, drive-thru dinner prove irresistible? All over the world people will be making promises to themselves they would like to keep but few have the staying power to make a difference. Is this possible in your FMCG Supply Chain in 2014?

How about this revised Top 10 List of resolutions to help your businesses improve in 2015?

Supply Chain Improvement ListSupply Chain Awareness – As a start you might like to remind colleagues especially Sales & Marketing what Supply Chain is all about.

Sales &Operational Planning - If this is in place; improve! If there is no S&OP you should try it - it works! If you are agnostic about S&OP, take a look at how S&OP helped one FMCG company turn performance around.

SKU Complexity – Do you actually know how many SKUs you have and what is driving your sku complexity? Do you have amore now than when you started 2014 yet lower overall turnover? Check and take action on non-profitable SKUs and ensure resources are placed behind winners.

Route To Market – In developing markets Traditional Trade will still form a large chunk of your business. Give your RTM a thorough service and your Distributors will serve you better.

Sales & Marketing Buy-in – Wouldn’t it be powerful if everyone in your company was aligned to the same plan and 100% mutually supportive? Too much to hope for? If such a change happens you will rapidly feel the difference.

Proactive 3PLP’s – Are they meeting the agreed KPI’s? Do you have KPis as part of a Service Level Agreement (SLA)? If perfromance is not what you expect then perhaps you need to review them and revise upwards.

Reduced Stock/Inventory – The start of the year is a great time to remove that old stock. Why not give your sales a much needed post holiday sales boost with some unexpected and low cost support using stock that will be otherwise written off? Amd you know it will!

Improved Customer Service – Do you measure this and if you do is the measurement 100% honest and accurate? Companies that fool themselves on Customer Service may see short term benefits but do not succeed in the long run.

Use the ERP - Avoid spreadsheets like the plague as they undermine your business and waste time and effort. If you have invested in an ERP like SAP then ensure it is correctly implemented and apply relevant transactional discipline. Is you business running on raw data or actionable information? Think about that!

Continuously Improve – If you stand still as this awful recession slowly evaporraates it is highly likely you will be at the back of the pack. Keep innovating and improving your Supply Chain to maintain competiveness and freshness.

Naturally, you cannot do everything at the same time but if you choose to focus on a few of these areas you will discover you can significantly change your FMCG business success by getting improved and sustainable value from your Supply Chain.
Make a resolution and just do it! You don't need to be Einstein.........


Tags: Customer service, SKU, Route to Market, Dave Jordan, ERP/SAP, KPI, S&OP, Logistics Management, Distribution, Inventory Management & Stock Control

FMCG Supply Chains - For Whom the Bell Tolls in Romania?

Posted by Stefan Cucu on Thu, Oct 30, 2014

We hadn’t seen R. in the last three years.  Now this happened in the middle of the street and after the kisses and hugs, the usual ‘how do you do’ followed. People were pushing us angrily, a clear sign that we had to continue this conversation elsewhere, in a quiet place. And so we did. R. visited us the next day to give us the big news.

“I have decided to move in France!” The was not a big surprise as most Romanians learn from  childhood that one of the best things that can happen to them is the opportunity to leave the country. For some reason, I didn’t imagine R. was part of that category. That's because R. had a solid, local family business. Also, she was  living in a beautiful house, a true architectural masterpiece and her family’s heritage, full of valuable art.

On top of that, the house was located in a quiet area, but just few metres away from the city, near the old church – which was itself a beautiful piece of national patrimony.  Clearly, moving was not an easy decision.  “Well, the church is the problem. In fact, we have a new priest. And this new priest installed a new bell which is more powerful than the old one. There was no authorisation for this new bell and it is just a few meters from my bedroom. Every morning I wake up I feel electrocuted! I cannot stand it!”

Supply chain romanian companies resized 600“Well, did you complain or try to talk to the priest?” Do you think only once? He said he will never talk to a woman. I measured the level of noise pollution with the local H&S officials four times. The result was 120 dB compared with the limit of 50 dB allowed in residential areas. Eventually, I had to sue him. So we went to court but do you want to hear the final decision? The bell is OK. That's because for centuries, the Romanian people used the bells to signal the approach of invaders. This bell is needed in case of an air attack so does not need the neighbours’ permission, nobody needs to agree on the construction plans and everything is fine. This is the Municipality and the court’s final decision!”

I know, this story is absurd. It has a lot of local charm, has a bitter taste at the end but unfortunately it is very true. So what does it have in common with Supply Chain principles? My friend R. hit the nail on the head by saying: “I want to be treated like a client, their (local authorities) client, who pays the taxes and receives a good product in return. I want to witness the respect for the law, the respect that I’m a woman, the respect that I’m a citizen”.

Well, from a Supply Chain perspective, R. was clearly the client but the bureaucrats did not understand that and this is indeed a problem.

To know very well who your clients are and give them what they want - this is a basic Supply Chain rule. And we miss that so much in Romania, in the entire society. If you don’t believe that, just turn on the TV, ride a taxi or listen to the politicians.

Do you believe we can introduce Supply Chain educational programs in primary school? Yes, I know the answer. It was just a joke J! But what about educating the Romanian companies in the value of Supply Chain departments and Customer Service? Maybe it is not too late.

Image courtesy of taoti at freedigitalphotos.net

 

 

Tags: Customer service, FMCG, Humour, Stefan Cucu, Supply Chain