Supply Chain Blog

How Spreadsheets Undermine Your FMCG ERP

Posted by Dave Jordan on Mon, Jun 11, 2018

Despite what you may wish to believe the answer is probably, yes. You have invested heavily in brand new ERP software and similarly heavily in some smart, young consultancy people to run the implementation. You will have spent some timing debating and making these choices as the change to an all encompassing and integrated ERP is a huge step and at the same time a huge risk for your company.

Suddenly the flexibility to back-date or correct entries is lost or at least there is a rigid and auditable procedure to follow in order to make any adjustments. Sudden uplifts in Sales cannot be slipped in unnoticed at month-end and neither can supply shortages or marketing tardiness with promotional activity. Everything you do in a good ERP is recorded and can be seen.

ERP System ImplementationIf your ERP really is the only software being used to run your business then a hearty well done to you. However, in a surprisingly large number of companies the all important role of change management has not received the required seniority or focus.  Staff who have been using spreadsheets for maybe 10 - 15 years (it was released in 1985!) cannot and will not stop using them just because they have been trained in a new ERP.  Spreadsheets are like a cuddly teddy at bedtime; they are familiar, comforting, not demanding and always there!

An element of your decision to implement a new ERP was probably a supplier guarantee that people productivity and data accuracy would be improved. In reality you will find staff operating a covert shadow ERP on the same old spreadsheets. Detailed planning, sales and allocation decisions are being made on spreadsheets and then manually inserted into ERPs. Commonly, decisions are taken in isolation of S&OP and lack the consistency that ERP master data brings plus the all important history development for the business baseline.

Staff efficiency and data accuracy have certainly not improved; they have worsened. The tedious “cut and paste” of data into the ERP is time consuming and fraught with error. Post ERP implementation is always a rough time for businesses  as they get to grips with a new way of working but is it any wonder some stay in a continual state of intensive care?

If you pay sufficient attention to change management you can lessen the impact. Should staff not see the medium terms benefits outweighing the short term inconvenience then they will operate the shadow ERP.  The change manager has to clearly show what the ERP brings to people first and subsequently the company – not the other way around.

Of course, one solution might be to deactivate the spread sheet program on the network until ERP discipline is second nature? Now, who is brave enough to do that?

Image courtesy of HikingArtist

Tags: FMCG, Dave Jordan, Pharma, ERP/SAP, Supply Chain Analytics, Integrated Business Planning, ERP

Balanced Scorecard KPIs: Keeping Track of Business Performance 

Posted by Dave Jordan on Thu, Mar 29, 2018

How do you keep track of Supply Chain performance within your FMCG, Brewing or Pharmaceutical business? You do, don’t you? If you are not measuring any KPIs then perhaps you should stop here, read this KPI piece and then pop back and carry on.

You can measure and report in many formats as long as you measure appropriate KPIs for your business. One of the most pointless tasks is calculating and reporting a “KPI” which is in fact worthless and of no beneficial interest. Colleagues in Sales & Marketing usually assume they are immune from KPIs as they gleefully sit back and let the Supply Chain guy take the flak at Board meetings. In reality however, the actions of everyone in the company must be reflected in one or more KPIs. If there is anyone in your business who is not impacting a KPI in some way then perhaps you might consider a round of head-count reduction!

The following is a demonstration example of a Balanced Scorecard of business KPIs. While many are indeed Supply Chain related you need only look at Sales Forecast Accuracy to see how other departments can influence that measurement to a far greater extent. KPIs are designed (usually 2 or 3 per discipline) and presented within the company Scorecard.  Target performance threshold levels are agreed (RAG – Red, Amber, Green) and presented monthly within the S&OP process to measure success and target further improvement.

Supply Chain KPIs

There will undoubtedly be more PIs calculated around the business but those in the scorecard really must be the priorities; those that provide actionable information.

The use of simple colour notation allows business managers to see exactly where problems exist allowing them to focus resources. Conversely, you quickly see what is going well and where you might have to raise the bar to maintain and improve further.  (If you are measuring your KPIs at the same level as 5 years ago then that may reflect a business which is stagnating.)

Whatever design you use it does not really matter but:

1. You must measure KPIs relevant to your overall business strategy and performance.

2. You must report them promptly and widely.

3. They must be discussed at the top table, routinely.

4. You must review and delete/insert new KPIs as the business need develops.

5. You must ensure the targets are stretching but achievable as a constant red display is demotivating.

While KPI stands for Key Performance Indicator it could easily be considered as Keep People Interested!

Image courtesy of Enchange.

 

Tags: Brewing & Beverages, FMCG, Dave Jordan, Performance Improvement, Pharma, KPI, Supply Chain, S&OP

Key Performance Indicators or just monthly data dumping? 

Posted by Dave Jordan on Tue, Mar 27, 2018

Last month I spent a few weeks enjoying the UK weather disaster as 10mm of snow brought life to a halt. While there I moved the heiress into her new apartment - not a flat now as student days are over, very posh. Hopefully, that will be the last time I have to manage boxes down a narrow and winding staircase and my glass back can get a much needed rest.

Job done, I made my way back to base with an unpleasant 15 hour delay on BlueAir but at least there was no jobsworth amongst the crew.  Despite the weather I continued my minimalist approach to clothing to ease my way through the various security screenings. I wore no belt, no watch, no metal at all in an attempt to glide through the checks without being patted, prodded or made to make a second pass through the metal detector. Unfortunately, my innocent pack of UNO playing cards looks like plastic explosive, apparently.

The end of the world was in progress on arrival back in Bucharest. Heavy dark and angry clouds were dispensing precipitation by the bucket load and it was relentless. The sleet quickly soaked my UK grade Arctic coat and everything underneath including socks.  Futile attempts at shelter included the held-aloft flat newspaper and the rather dangerous shopping bag with eye holes over the head. Even the all in one little black bin bag number a girl was wearing (or was it a dress?) was ineffective in diverting any of the torrential downpour. This was a real storm without escape where complete saturation was guaranteed and inevitable. 

I felt rather like an FMCG CEO. Saturated by data that people believe he/she needs to see in order to run the business. Not actionable information but raw data. Completely submersed in meaningless numbers and perceived trends. Often, that data is aimed at passing the buck to other departments for failure or lack of success or to ensure backside protection during the post-mortem that takes place long after the month or quarter or whatever period has closed.

Even if you do not run a swish ERP you need to be able to address in-market issues while you still have a chance of making a difference. However, to do that you need to receive information which quickly converts to relevant knowledge and then facilitates actions. To actually see the reality of market performance you don’t need masses of numbers, you need facts.

image.pngIf you don’t have a KPI or Balanced Scorecard then sort one out quickly. If you already monitor performance in this way then take a long hard look at what is actually being reported; is it for the benefit of the reporting colleague/department or for the benefit of the entire company?

Remember that KPIs never tell the full story. When a KPI refuses to improve despite all efforts it may well be due to the impact of another completely different and apparently unrelated measure. In such cases you should adopt a Supply Chain Analytics Approach to deep dive into the detail and really see what is happening all along your Supply Chain.

Image courtesy of SupplyVue at Concentra

 

Tags: FMCG, Dave Jordan, CEO, Performance Improvement, Pharma, KPI, Supply Chain, Supply Chain Analytics

Time to Spring Clean your Supply Chain in FMCG?

Posted by Dave Jordan on Thu, Mar 22, 2018

Are market conditions getting any better, really? Many big name companies are heading for indifferent full year 2017 results and all caution about the continuing “difficult market conditions”. Ok, so 2017 has been put to bed but many will be paying the price for the mammoth last quarter efforts which must have made the advertising and promotional agencies extremely wealthy. I wonder what a snap-shot of bottom line profitability looked like over the final 3 months of 2017?

If the economy is not much better than last year what exactly can you do differently to keep ahead of your competitors in 2018?  If you had all the time in the world you could apply all of the Top 10 New Year Supply Chain Resolutions. You might not have the time and resources to tackle all of them but there are a couple you can take advantage of for some quick wins. Give your Supply Chain a much needed Spring Clean (I know, it is snowing heavily as I type this in Bucuresti) and see the difference this can make.

Most businesses will have carried out a stock count at year end. You do count your stock don’t you? If you don’t then I suspect you will have less inventory than you thought! You should now have a clear list of those items which are clearly overstocked, close to expiry, old label etc. Every day you keep hold of this stock destroys value as the expense slowly but surely chips away at your bottom line making your life unnecessarily difficult. Get rid of it! Give it to charity. You could even sell it! If you clear out your stocks you will naturally create a slightly more responsive and faster Supply Chain that focusses on value creating SKUs.

FMCG_SKU_COMPLEXITY_REDUCTION_SPRING_CLEAN.jpgDo you know how many “must have” core and promotional SKUs you added in 2017 in order to get as close as possible to top down HQ targets? In difficult times it is easy for processes and procedures to be overlooked in the search for ever more sales. Every SKU costs you money even if it may be  difficult to quantify in your business. 

Do all of the SKUs actually contribute to profit? If you do not monitor profitability by SKU then a considerable proportion may exist for little or worse still, negative benefit. You need to be dispassionate about culling SKUs that are not performing. As far as possible you should keep Sales and Marketing out of that decision making process until your business case is water-tight. Otherwise, these colleagues will always come up with a reason why XYZ SKU is critical to the future of the universe!

Each of these initiatives is relatively straightforward and certainly not resource intensive. Carrying out this simple Spring Clean and getting your house in good order will help you focus your efforts on winning in the market place.

Image courtesy of Stuart Miles at freedigitalphotos.net

Tags: SKU, FMCG, Dave Jordan, Pharma, Inventory Management & Stock Control

A Practical Guide to FMCG SKU Complexity Reduction 

Posted by Dave Jordan on Tue, Mar 20, 2018

If your business is struggling to cope with day to day sales while managing innovation and range extensions then give your SKU list a thorough review. Not just a cursory glance but a scientific evaluation of what brings in the profit and what eats at the same. Few businesses are lucky to operate with just one or two monster SKUs but an excessive list of items on the price list can severely affect your customer service performance.

In the customer service link above we looked at the cost to have a single SKU on the books and it is not insignificant when you take all elements of supply into account. If SKUs do not pay for themselves and contribute to the bottom line then why do they exist? SKUs plodding along with low margin AND low sales turnover cannot be worth the cost and effort of maintaining them, can they? They are simply getting in the way of potentially more profitable SKUs.

If you could base your business on high margin/high turnover SKUs then of course you would. Life is not that simple and the market place is ever more competitive so you need to constantly review the wisdom of what you are putting in front of consumers. Unless your business is in dire straits a large proportion of your SKUs will be either low margin/high turnover or vice versa. Both situations can provide reasonably healthy growth but wouldn’t it be better if you could edge them towards the high/high green quartile as per the diagram below?SKU ComplexityThe first step is to make a very rough estimate of what your business spends on keeping an SKU on the price list. This is not an accurate science but you need to put a “stake in the ground” and agree a number, say 30,000Eur. If the margin of a particular SKU does not at least break-even then delisting should be considered. Staff who look after those SKUs in the yellow segments need to be challenged on a quarterly basis to get their SKUs away from the red and towards the green, or delist.

If you carry out such an assessment and find that a majority of your SKUs are in the red segment then you might benefit from a professional spring clean of your portfolio. Such an approach will remove any emotion and bias when clinically assessing what you should be placing on shelves.

Image courtesy of Enchange at Enchange.com.

 

Tags: SKU, FMCG, Dave Jordan, Performance Improvement, Pharma, Supply Chain Analytics

Supply Chain Improvement via Analytics - well worth a closer look!

Posted by Dave Jordan on Wed, Mar 14, 2018

Just when we thought winter had been and gone it bit back nastily with a short, sharp shock of bad weather including snow and bitter cold. Typically, UK was unable to cope and as an example I spent 5 hours looking out of a cabin window at Birmingham airport while 10mm of snow gently fell. Eventually I arrived back in Bucharest to find significantly more snow yet very little disruption, as usual.

What else is hitting the headlines at the moment? POTUS Donald Trump thinks it’s a good idea to tackle the problem of gun attacks in schools by arming teachers. Is your cuppa too sweet? Of course, add more sugar. Waistline too big? Eat more food. Everybody except POTUS and the NRA considers introducing more guns to schools is a bad idea.

On the business front, February is over in its usual short, yet sweet way and we are now well into March as the end of the first quarter for many companies draws near. Your ability to make an impact on the Q1 results is slowly vanishing and if you are short at the top or bottom then you should still resist the urge to push stocks into the trade.

Just as arming maths teachers is plain daft, pushing more stock into the trade is similarly unwise yet it remains a go-to solution for some. As bad as this is, what is worse is that it is highly likely you already have too much inventory dotted along the chain. From a planning manager perspective this is about just in case rather than just in time!

A few questions to honestly ask yourself:Supply_chain_analytics_inventory_control_&_reduction.jpg

  • Do you know the precise stock level that will deliver your target service levels and in market sales?
  • Do you know what you need to change to achieve your supply chain and ultimate business targets?
  • Do you genuinely understand what is happening inside your own supply chain?

Like those mustachioed David Bedford money lending look-alikes, you are not alone.

In the last 10 years or so, despite investments in sophisticated ERP and other supporting systems, huge opportunities to further improve supply chain performance have become available.

Why should you be interested in Supply Chain Analytics? It’s………

  • Free: An initial free test drive on a sample of your data will indicate the potential benefits.
  • Fast:  A proven step by step data loading process from your existing source systems.  You don’t have to wait for a lengthy IT implementation to benefit from Supply Chain Analytics.
  • Instant: The software is pre-built with analytics reports, calculations, trends and data collation capability.
  • Accessible: A secure cloud-based platform with access from your PC, tablet or mobile.
  • Profitable: You are weeks away from starting the process of saving millions of Euros AND reaching those ambitious sales targets.

Don’t be frightened by Supply Chain Analytics; they are the future leading towards your Supply Chain excellence. A selection of stunning case studies will be published shortly. Take a look and then get involved.

Image courtesy of Loveluck at freedigitalphotos.net

Tags: FMCG, Dave Jordan, Pharma, Supply Chain, Inventory Management & Stock Control, Supply Chain Analytics

Supply Chain Performance: Budget Airlines and KPIs……

Posted by Dave Jordan on Wed, Jun 14, 2017

I have never been a fan of budget airlines and certainly not since one left me sleeping overnight in the back of beyond that is Luton Airport. That may be an exciting addition to a student’s back-pack holiday itinerary but when you have a glass back it is not so appealing.

Nevertheless, they do fly to or near to where I need to be and the prices are much cheaper if you book well in advance, don’t pay with a credit card, don’t carry any luggage, don’t eat or drink, wish to sit next to your wife or use the toilet (thank you Fascinating Aida).

So, once again I found myself on the busy Birmingham – Bucharest route after visiting the heiress and some things are inevitable on a no-frills airline. I know the dimensions of my carry-on bag but so many others either forget to check or think they will get away with a dayglo sausage the size of Sicily without paying the penalty fare. That’s how they make their money; last minute, extortion, take it or leave it.

My second frequent observation is that there is usually someone sitting in my seat when I board. Yes, they move when challenged but only to another seat which is not theirs either. I know some airlines do or did provide a free seating/chaos policy but when you have a seat allocated on the boarding pass, sit in it!

Finally, we are off the ground and ascending before soon the engines throttle back and this is when I want to shout out some helpful advice to the captain, “change gear now”. I know how planes work but that bit off take off always makes me uncomfortable. The beep of the seat belt sign going off leads to an immediate dash for the toilets (I hope they pre-paid) and a long line of shuffling bodies.

The line of casually shuffling bodies soon turns into a twitching queue of concern as the red toilet sign above the cabin remains illuminated. Phones are consulted to pass the time and refocus the mind; people even read the safety information booklet and the duty-free magazine which is anything but duty free, of course.

Finally, a Flight Attendant needs to transport a metal trolley on inedible stuff to the other end of the plane and realises she cannot possibly conquer the lavatory line and politely knocks on the toilet door. No answer. Another tap-tap-tap plus an enquiry if everything is OK also fails to change the indicator from no-go red to free flowing green. The red light seems to glow brighter as if to irritate those with crossed legs.

This is now serious as the inedible stuff is getting cold and more people are standing in the aisle than sitting in seats. The pilot is probably having to battle with the controls to keep the plane centrally balanced. Something must give and judging by the faces of the queuers, this will be very soon. The red light glows.

Then action; the queue is guided away from the toilet door and back behind the curtain. Male and female crew members are poised to open the door using the emergency switch and they don’t know what or whom they will find. The door is cracked open as male and female eyes strain to see which crew member will take the lead and help the possibly stricken passenger. The red light vanishes and the green for go appears above the curtain. Relief is at hand.

There’s nobody in the toilet. The grateful mass of people takes one step forwards as the end is finally near.

FMCG_SUPPLY_CHAIN_HUMOUR_KPI_ANALYTICS.jpgSo, what went wrong? Will the cleaning service at the destination find something a very unexpected item in the garbage area? Is someone hiding in the skin of the aeroplane plotting something nasty?

There was never anyone in the toilet in the first place and staff had forgotten to flick the switch to make it open for business. The red light stayed illuminated but it was not telling you what the real situation was with toilet occupancy and the impasse was allowed to go on for quite some time. The KPI (kay pee aye) was showing red but it was not telling you the reality and certainly not everything.

Don’t always believe your KPIs are telling you the whole story; challenge them routinely. They are frequently an indication of performance at a certain moment in time and a longer-term view is necessary as the business evolves. If your business is in trouble you may need a set of Recovery KPIs whereas a booming business on a roll may need a set which is far more forward thinking and aggressive. Supply Chain Analytics help you take the longer term view.

Blindly believing long term over or under performance can see your company quickly performance go down the pan.

Image courtesy of phasinphoto at freedigitalphotos.net

Tags: FMCG, Dave Jordan, Humour, Performance Improvement, Pharma, KPI, Supply Chain, Supply Chain Analytics

Interim Management & Consultancy – What's the difference?

Posted by Michael Thompson on Thu, May 25, 2017
At Enchange, we have provided many supply chain interim managers for clients over the years. I was discussing our supply chain interim management services with a client recently and she asked whether she should be hiring interim managers or consultants.
 
We had a long chat and it turned out that interim managers were the right solution for her requirement.  The main reason in this case was that she insisted in retaining total control of the project and the key need was for expert resource to deliver a number of work stream projects.

So, for anyone else facing a similar dilemma here are seven key differences between interim management and consultancy:
  1. Notice  Interim managers are often placed at short notice.  Consultancy contracts usually take several months to agree and commence.
  2. Terms of reference  Interim management assignments nearly always commence with ‘implementation-driven’ terms of reference.  Consultancy contracts nearly always involve a process of analysis and usually include design work.  For an interim management contract, the analysis has usually been undertaken by the client.
  3. Project work  For project work, consultancy projects provide expertise not available in the company.  Interim management projects could normally be carried out by client personnel but resource is usually a constraint.
  4. Executive power  Interim managers are often called upon to demonstrate strong leadership from the outset of an assignment and can have a large degree of executive power.  Tough people decisions are sometimes made quickly.  It is unusual for a consultant to exercise executive authority.
  5. Client relationship  Typically interim managers become part of the client team quickly and identify totally with the needs of the client company.  Consultants, while always working closely with clients, often maintain an ‘arms-length’ relationship with client staff and identify totally with project deliverables.
  6. Contract duration  Interim management contracts are typically of longer duration than consultancy contracts.  However, the maximum duration for any assignment should not exceed 18-24 months.
  7. Fee rates are typically lower for interim management contracts.  At Enchange our rates for top quality interim supply chain managers certainly are lower.

 users guide to interim management

Tags: FMCG, Interim Management, Performance Improvement, Pharma, Michael Thompson, Supply Chain

Top 10 Times You Need Supply Chain Interim Management

Posted by Michael Thompson on Fri, May 12, 2017
Supply Chain Interim ManagementI have been talking to a number of supply chain executives during the last few weeks and something of a theme has emerged.
The theme is the immediate need for highly skilled supply chain resource, available at short notice, with the flexibility to switch off the resource at wil..….and at fee rates comparable to existing resource. “So nothing unreasonable there”, I thought.

What we actually discussed was supply chain interim management and how the placing of a specific skilled resource can have a dramatic postive impact on an organisation. We went on to discuss the typical roles that supply chain executives are currently demanding.  

With this and our recent experience with clients, I offer the following top 10 supply chain interim management roles:
  1. Resource gap. Bridging a gap prior to a full time appointment being made.  This was mentioned by everyone – “we need a planning manager …. now”.
  2. Backfill. To temporarily backfill a position because the incumbent manager is about to be seconded to a project or may be emabrking on maternity leave. “We have a large project that has started (ERP projects were mentioned a number of times) & we need an interim Head of Supply Chain”.
  3. Project Managing a specific project that would normally be carried out by company personnel but experienced resource is a constraint.  This is a common need and mentioned frequently.
  4. Temporary or part-time operational assignments the need for which will end, do not justify a full time employee or are designed to coach and train a new manager. 
  5. Holding the fort in a situation where company strategy is not decided and operational roles are unclear while the business must keep going forwards.
  6. Crisis. Managing a crisis when a unexpected event occurs, e.g. dismissal, death or unexpected departure.
  7. Post-acquisition or merger management prior to establishment of the full management team.
  8. Pre-sale management of a company or business unit in preparation for a sale.
  9. Urgent change management of strategy, cost, structure, organisation, process etc., when an external threat is recognised. e.g. sudden loss of market share, competitive move, unsustainable debt position, hostile take-over bid, etc.
  10. Turnaround management or ‘company doctor’ when a permanent position is inappropriate or the role may be perceived as too risky to attract a permanent candidate.
My discussions were with a relatively small number of people so I would welcome any further comments or indeed, requests for assistance.

 

Tags: FMCG, Interim Management, Performance Improvement, Pharma, Michael Thompson, Supply Chain

Supply Chain: The benefits of Interim Management

Posted by Dave Jordan on Wed, Mar 29, 2017

Interim SC Expert at Hand Netsize resized 600Interim Management is an approach used by companies to “make things happen” within a clear budget and without the headaches of recruiting a full time employee (FTE).  The benefits are numerous but initially……

Immediate access to expert supply chain skills and experience in your sector.

No hidden extras. You pay the daily fee rate and expenses; no more, no less.

Training for your staff to ensure supply chain knowledge and skills imparted and retained.

Experienced supply chain interim managers available now at all levels of seniority.

Remove internal hurdles and barriers to change.

International experience gained from working in many countries, companies and in relevant sectors.

Motivated to achieve results to tight time and cost objectives.

Maintain the resource while you need it without any financial burden at contract end.

Avoid permanent employee costs which are significant.

No inconvenient holidays, training courses or conferences.

Ability to challenge your supply chain status quo and make sustainable change in the business.

Generate savings and efficiency improvements in a short timescale.

Expectations should high be as you are buying international expertise.

Make your business prepared for the competition in difficult economies.

Excellent return on investment.

No political axe to grind and no bias; straightforward advice and actions.

Take a look at the Enchange approach to Interim Management, eave your details via the contact form and we will call you back. If you are not sure you need Interim Management then you probably do!

Tags: FMCG, Interim Management, Dave Jordan, Performance Improvement, Pharma, Supply Chain, CEE