Wednesday, 29 August 2012

People make Supply Chains

A slight diversion away from Investment Stream Mapping (ISM)...

Supply Chain Management: a chain of companies, suppliers, firms that provide supplies to you and that requires Management.

Now that term management includes, but doesn’t mean:

  •             The transmission of electronic data on demand, stock and replenishment orders
  •             The despatch, transport and receipt of those of orders
  •             The production of orders, goods receipt notes, invoices and payments
  •             Negotiating and signing supply contracts, quality agreements

What is missing in all of those is the absence of management, which is a people based activity, and is frequently overlooked when we get all hooked up in those transactional statements.

When the Japanese natural disaster hit global supply chains, one of my clients found that the integrity of part of their supply chain was dependent on the strength of the relationship his Purchasing Manager had with a key supplier. In times of short supply, relationships make the difference. Contracts can be interpreted, reasons for non-supply can be created, delays justified. You and your key supplies depend on the people that you are in business with. 

Another client had a multi-million dollar supply contract with just one customer (60%+ of their turnover). They rarely visited that customer at a senior level. The relationship deteriorated, and decisions on future collaborations slipped away. All of those transactional things were happening of course, but the Supply Chain wasn’t being managed.

Don’t fall into the same trap. List out your most important Supply Chains (up and down stream), and ask yourself if you are managing the relationships as well as shipping the paper, emails and goods. Look for the people behind the chain and make sure you are in the game.

Wednesday, 1 August 2012

Rudyard Kipling and the power of Else

Rudyard Kipling wrote the following advice for researchers:

I keep six honest serving-men
(They taught me all I knew);
Their names are What and Why and When
And How and Where and Who.

Their relevance to mapping our Investment Streams is to make sure that we ask enough questions about all of our customers, what they expect from us and invest in our efforts. Some examples for the car sector:

What do my customers buy? (a car, a lifestyle, travel independence)
Why do they buy? (best credit deal, free servicing, low running costs)
When do they buy? (new registration time, start of a career, for the summer)
How do they buy? (internet searching, Magazine led, Dealer trawling)
Where do they buy? (main dealer, import agency, ex-company cars)
Who buys? (young, old, family builders, boy racers)

And now the power of Else.

Open your mind to all of the possibilities by now going back and asking:

What else?
Why else?
When else? Etc

Use your imagination, look at your competitors, look outside of your industry for Investment needs and streams that offer you a competitive edge.

What else? (service free travelling?)
Why else? (wheel chair storage?)
When? (when a pensioner can access their lump sum?)

Find and deliver a stream that others haven’t thought of to revolutionise your business!