Category Archives: Supply Chain & Logistics

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Developing Effective Supply Chain Strategies

 

By Rebecca Langdon

The first thing to tell you is that developing efficient and robust supply chain strategies is an art, and it takes thought and consideration. You can’t turn to a catalogue and pick out a particular strategy that you think will perfectly suit your particular product or service. Instead you need to take each product or service, or group thereof, and design the most effective supply chain. These are my top tips for approaching supply chain development.

  • Review the current supply chain first

Unless you are launching a completely new product or service, you will have a current supply chain that you can analyze. It may be that you think it is inefficient or perhaps it seems to be working smoothly. Your goal is to ensure that the supply chain delights your customers and aligns with their expectations. At this stage you need to do your research and produce a gap analysis.

  • Consider improving the supply chain

Once you have determined any gaps, you can begin looking at options for improvement. This might be a different warehouse facility, a new logistics plan, or perhaps you want to go to tender to seek new suppliers.

  • High versus low risk

You need to consider the issues your organisation will face if the supply chain breaks down and the product or service is either delayed, or is substandard. There may be some products or services which are lower risk, perhaps because they are easily substitutable. For these products/services you may not be too worried about having a backup plan. For critical products/services you should look for any weak points in the supply chain and ensure you have a secondary option. As an example, your core product is handmade sofas and you currently have one supplier. If that supplier loses resource or has a material constraint, you would be unable to fulfil customer orders. You have a single point of failure for your main revenue stream. A Supply Chain Manager would spot this risk and contract with a backup supplier or perhaps hire in a small internal manufacturing capability.

In Summary

The purpose of this article has been to highlight that a supply chain can either delight or disappoint the customer. There is an art to developing world class supply chains. For a business to be successful they need to invest in a talented and accredited Supply Chain Manager who can develop effective and robust supply chains. In many cases, organisations are turning to CSCP professionals to assist them in this area.

Project management

4 Effortless Ways to Improve Your Productivity

By Lyndsey Mclaughlin

A project manager is responsible for overseeing a project and ensuring it is delivered on time and within budget. It can be a highly challenging role, as you will be overseeing a team and will need to be able to identify the best use of your resources. Project managers are expected to stay within a specific budget and are also responsible for dealing with any challenges which arise. In order to rise to the challenges of managing a project, it is essential for the project manager to be productive. These are some of the ways to do this to achieve the best possible results.

Remain Focused

It is important to be focused on the project and not to let other distractions get in the way. For example, having dedicated times to check emails and attend meetings. If the focus is taken off the project for long periods of time, it can easily lead to the project being delivered after the deadline or generally not being delivered to the best of the project manager’s ability.

Clear Steps

Although it is important to always have the end result in sight for the project, it is also essential to define clear steps to reach the end goal. This is what makes a project manager most effective. If you embark on a project without knowing exactly what you want to achieve and when, you are setting yourself up for failure.

Delegate Tasks

An important part of being a productive project manager is the ability to make good use of your resources, which means being able to delegate tasks to those who are most capable. In order to do this, you must define the key skills and qualities of your team and assign them to the most relevant parts of the project.

Enroll in a PMP Program

If you really want to set yourself apart and become as productive as possible within your role, it is worthwhile enrolling in a Project Management Professional certification program. This will improve your knowledge of managing a project, including how to delegate tasks, stick to a budget and to cope with any challenges. These skills can not only improve your productivity when managing a project, but enable you to further your career by becoming equipped with the knowledge and expertise to manage projects effectively. The most effective project managers will be continuously focused on personal development and this program can help achieve those results.

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The Importance of Financial Management in Facility Management

By Joanne Jeffries

Financial management in any business is key to success. In facilities management, not allowing the budget to run away with itself, planning and reviewing spending is important. There are many ways to keep tight financial control; these are our top 8 tips.

  1. Have a business plan

From contracts to SLAs, to a business-wide business plan, there is no substitute for understanding where your money will need to be targeted, how much of an emergency fund you will need and so on. The importance of financial management is such that planned expenditure always means savings over ad hoc expenditure.

  1. Monitor your financial position

Once you have planned your expenditure, apportioned sub-budgets and the like, you now need to monitor expenditure. If there is consistent over-spend on one area, there is obvious need for change. Don’t forget facilities management will not stay the same, thus your budget will need to change too.

  1. Credit control

Cash flow is important in facilities management; if it stops flowing, it presents significant issues. Credit control is more than just checking people have paid. It should also be about being pro-active in reducing customer debts rather than waiting for payment that may never come.

  1. Knowing day-to-day costs

Facilities Managers should have a firm grasp on the day to day operational costs they are responsible for. One key way to do this is to ensure all external costs via suppliers are clearly agreed within a contract.

  1. Up-to-date financial records

If you cannot lay your hands or eyes on the latest spreadsheet that gives you an immediate financial snapshot of the business, then you are divorced from financial reality. Of all the activities within the background running of your business, pro-activeness when it comes to keeping financial records is without doubt, top priority.

  1. Increase efficiency in overheads

Every business has overheads and when the budget starts to bite, controlling overheads can be the fastest way of saving money. Look at the average costs of heating, lighting, and air conditioning etc., checking you have the best deals. Don’t be lazy – always check for better deals via benchmarking and competitive negotiations with suppliers.

  1. Tackle financial problems as they arise

Allowing financial difficulties to fester is clearly not the best means of financially supporting and evolving facilities management. If there is a problem, deal with it.

  1. Become financial astute

This means including financial management training as part of your own professional development, and that of your employees.

In Summary

As a facilities manager it is likely that you will be responsible for the financial management of the services you manage. Whether it be budgeting, forecasting, or reconciliation, to be successful you need to be confident that you are managing the monetary aspects of your services. For more information, you might consider an FMP accreditation since within the syllabus Finance and Business is covered.

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Which Lean Six Sigma Belt is Your Perfect Fit?

By Kate Rawdon


Lean Six Sigma is a well-established and revolutionary set of tools and principles that can lower costs and raise profits for almost any business. It uses a combination of statistical analysis, critical evaluation and positive overhauling of existing processes. The result of this tried and tested program is lasting change that can measurably transform an organization for the better. For anyone wanting to learn Six Sigma, there are three levels of training available - Yellow, Green and Black Belt.

 

Here’s a brief rundown of what each level of training covers, and who should enroll on each one:

 

Yellow Belt           

 

Yellow belt training is the first level of Six Sigma. It’s ideal for anyone in business who wants to get an overview and introduction to the highly effective principles of Six Sigma.

 

This training is extremely helpful for any employees in an organisation that is using Lean Six Sigma, for the following reasons:

  • It enables all staff to gain a full understanding of the thinking behind any changes to their work
  • It helps with staff morale by giving all interested employees an overview of the program being applied to their business
  • It gives employees the language and resources they need to be able to contribute to ongoing improvement

 

Green Belt

 

The more advanced Green Belt training is much more hands-on, and is for individuals or teams who will be playing a key part in improving the organization’s performance through Six Sigma principles.
Green Belt training provides:

  • Practical tools for improving performance from analysis right through to lasting change
  • The ability to apply Six Sigma principles to any business problem
  • A working knowledge of the vital and versatile DMAIC method for solving problems

 

Black Belt               

 

The most advanced training of all, the Black Belt Program is for managers and other high level employees who guide a business at a strategic level.
Anyone successfully completing the Black Belt Program can:

  • Save their company a significant amount of money
  • Move on to help other companies to do the same thing
  • Vastly increase their earning potential with their new skills

 

To set your organization - and your career path - on a steep upward trajectory, enroll on a Six Sigma program today.

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5 Steps to Align Supply Chain with Corporate Strategy

By Rebecca Langdon

To set the scene, you have recently become CSCP accredited and you have just started a new role as a Supply Chain Manager for a retail/distribution firm inthe UAE. The organization has a very clear and well thought out corporate strategy, and they understand the importance of the supply chain to delivering on that strategy. Your job is to align the supply chain with the strategy. What do you do? These are our 5 steps for success:

Identify which areas of the corporate strategy are enabled by the supply chain

The corporate strategy will typically be vast in the functional areas it touches, it will also likely link to external forces which may be outside of the remit of the supply chain. The first task you have is to review the strategy and work out where you need to be aligned, and where you don’t. For example part of the strategy may be to reduce delivery times to customers; this is where you come in. However if part of the strategy is focussed on retaining good members of staff through internal management; you don’t need to be involved.

Measure supply chain performance in line with the corporate strategy

If the corporate strategy is to reduce delivery times by 20%, then you need to ensure that your metrics are aligned to that target. At this stage you will need to consider if the supply chain as currently designed can be optimized to offer the time savings. It may be that you will need to completely redesign the supply chain to meet the strategy. A good place to start is seeing what your competitors are doing and how they are performing.

Review the end to end supply chain

This is a holistic review of the supply chain to see if it is structured to meet strategic goals. For example the strategy last year may have been cost saving, but this year it is flexibility. The direction of the corporate strategy will drive a change in the design of the supply chain.

Incentivize the supply chain

Now that you understand the objective of the supply chain you need to incentivize the various organizations involved. In simple terms that means ensuring suppliers’ objectives are aligned with yours. This may be done via contract, service levels, monthly review, and/or balanced scorecards.

Don’t stop moving

By this I mean that once your supply chain is optimized and you are hopefully meeting the organizational strategy that is not the time to take a back seat. Corporate strategy is not static, so you need to keep plugged into directional changes and keep ensuring your supply change is still delivering.

In Summary

If an organization is going to delivery on its strategic goals, the supply chain will need to align to meet those objectives. This is the exciting part of being a Supply Chain Manager. For more information on the CSCP qualification, we have lots of information available on our website.

Project manager

Project Management – The Next Big Thing

By Lyndsey Mclaughlin

The title of Project Manager is common these days and it is considered to be one used by those who are responsible for managing projects and usually many at the same time. The general role of the Project Manager is to ensure projects run on time; by making best use of resources, identifying any potential risks and minimizing costs. Although project management is a role all of its own, it could be argued that we are all responsible for running projects, regardless of our job title or the industry we may be working in.

Key Qualities of a Project Manager

A highly effective project manager will be able to communicate well and be able to lead and take ownership of a project. They are able to make good, quick decisions which will have a positive impact on the business. For instance; not only having the ability to stick to a budget, but to save the company money in the process. It is the type of role which suits someone who works well under pressure and thrives on a challenge.

Managing Projects

If you are responsible for seeing a project through from start to finish, you are, in effect, a project manager, even if this is not your actual job title. For example, you may have the responsibility of managing events. In this role, you will have responsibility for making effective use of your resources, keeping within a specific budget and ensuring the event runs smoothly, while dealing with any potential issues. In the same respect, if you are a store manager for a retail store, you will be managing a project, as you will be recruiting and making the best use of your resources, i.e. rotas and dealing with any problems as they arise. If you can manage a project effectively, no matter what it may be, you are basically capable of meeting or exceeding the expectations of your role.

Project Management Qualifications

If you want to be able to take your career to the next level, it is worthwhile considering investing in a PMP, or Project Management Professional certification program.  With a program like this, you can improve your knowledge and skills in this area. Whether or not you want to become a project manager, it is highly useful to be able to deal with projects effectively, as this is part of everyone’s day to day roles. In any industry, you will always have responsibility for seeing a project through to completion, so these qualifications are ideal for improving your knowledge and understanding of how to manage projects effectively.

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Understanding and Managing risk in the global supply chain

 

By Rebecca Langdon

 

Good logistics is about detailed planning and anticipation. All supply chains are subject to external

threats which could cause your business big issues. One unforeseen issue could throw your entire

operation into disarray (and do some significant reputational damage with your clients). Accordingly,

while it is unreasonable and impossible to expect every scenario to be anticipated, it is important to look

at the most important supply chain risks and produce a contingency plan in the event they happen.

Within this article we will explore the main risks to any global supply chain.

 

Global Logistics

Logistics even restricted to one country can have many risks that threaten successful operation. When

that is expanded to multiple countries, the risks become more complex and also interlinked. For

example, you may be due a container of a certain product in Calais, but the French port authorities are

on strike so there is a delay. You finally get the shipment through the port and it is due to go to the UK

by cargo ship, however due to people trying to illegally cross into the UK from Calais, the cargo ships are

all delayed for additional vehicle searches. This is just one example but you can see that when goods are

travelling many miles and being handed off multiple times it is a complex risk to manage safe and timely

passage.

 

Economic Stability

If you are not operating within one unified economy, then you will be subject to the following:

 

- Exchange rate fluctuations

- Taxes such as VAT and customs duties

- Country trade agreements

 

These macro issues should be easier to predict as there will be trends, patterns, and warning signs. Of

course when there is a catastrophic event such as 9/11 or the global financial crisis that is impossible to

foresee.

 

Global Disruptions

These do not happen frequently and they are very difficult to predict and guard against. Examples are

floods, tsunamis, earthquakes, drought, and terrorist action and so on. It is possible to consider and

evaluate some of these potential risks and to mitigate if you think the scale of the risk is sufficient. For

example, you may have a single warehouse which is fairly close to a large river. It would be prudent to

evaluate the likelihood of the river breaking its banks, and thereafter the likelihood of that water

reaching the warehouse. If the risk is high, you may consider purchasing sand bags, or if the risk is

intolerably high you may consider resituating, or taking on a second warehouse.

 

As you can see, there are a myriad of risks to consider with respect to managing a global supply chain.

To grow your understanding and skill in the effective identification of risks in the supply chain, you may

want to consider a professional qualification in Supply Chain.

 

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Will APIs be the Next Big Thing for Enterprise Project Management?

 

By Rebecca Landgon

 

Application Programming Interfaces or APIs are the hot new trend in enterprise project management

software. So, what are they and what advantages can they offer?

 

Before APIs

Historically and actually still today, Project Managers have used desktop applications which tend to

provide a varied user experience, and are data silos. The role of the Project Manager involves

communication and coordination of a wide range of human resources, and stakeholders. Yet the

software at their fingertips has previously not sufficiently supported their day to day requirements.

The applications did not interface with other applications, and therefore the rich data could not be

easily shared. Project Managers were faced with having to share GANNT charts and other reports as

exports since many others would not even have MS Project or the software of choice installed.

Therefore this restricted the ability for resources to interact.

 

The power of APIs

Application Programming Interfaces are a set of routine definitions, protocols, and tools for building

applications. They have gained widespread popularity as they provide a standardised method of

integration. Project Management is one industry that has embraced APIs. These are some examples

of their use in enterprise project management:

  • Customer relationship management (CRM) enabling more efficient management of

customers affected by internal projects. For example, pulling data in directly from Salesforce.

  • Financial/accounting systems integration enabling easy management of project budge changes.
  • Partner/supplier management platform integration enabling better coordination with
    suppliers during project delivery.
  • Enterprise resource planning (ERP) integration.
  • Learning management system (LMS) to manage training courses and certifications for

Project Managers.

 

Cloud analytics

Project management API’s can provide the perfect way to integrate with a cloud based analytics

platform which can easily manage the plethora of available data. This will then assist Project

Managers to utilize data to move from tactical to strategic decision making.

 

Summary

APIs are without doubt the future of enterprise project management technology. It provides a way

to bring project management out of its silo and allow it to integrate seamlessly with others inside

and also outside of the organisation.

 

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Delighting customers starts from a company’s internal supply chain

 

By Rebecca Langdon

 

We live in a world where many customers do not want to wait for goods to be delivered, and why

should they? Many organisations are utilizing their internal supply chain to delight their customers and

give themselves a competitive edge. The strength of the supply chain has always been a key

determinant of organizational success, but never has it had so much focus as it is now often a key

business differentiator and unique selling point.

 

First let us consider an organization spearheading the way. Amazon is a formidable competitor in this

space with fast and effective logistics driving their business forward. When Amazon began offering

‘Prime’ next day delivery it was an attractive proposition to customers, offered at a competitive price on

a wide range of goods. At the time this certainly delighted many customers who no longer had a long

wait for their internet deliveries. However they have now found a way to optimize their supply chain

further to offer Amazon Prime Now in many global cities, where you can get a range of items delivered

within two hours. It is extraordinary and at the core of this is exceptional supply chain management

which is motored by technology, logistics, and stock control.

 

Technology

Technology is an enabler not just for stock control and logistics management, but also as a way to

communicate with your customers. Customers expect real time access to order tracking, and in many

cases communications. Technology should be used to perform the following functions:

 

  • Customer ordering via website and app (with backend to database for stock check)
  • Management of delivery options and pricing
  • Updates on order progress via text and email
  • Confirmations once the item is delivered
  • Feedback via text, email, or online survey

 

There are many off the shelf solutions to perform all functions above but organisations that are gaining

a competitive edge from their supply chain are typically building their own solutions, or outsourcing

build to integrate complex algorithms that are proprietary to them.

 

Stock

There are multiple ways to manage stock and you need to find the right one to fit your business.

Whether you are offering to deliver to customers within one day, or seven, the important thing is to

keep your promise to the agreed timescales. The questions to consider are;

- Will you hold stock in a warehouse?

- How much stock will you require?

- Will you have more than one warehouse in case of natural disaster?

- Could you operate just in time from the manufacturer into a distribution center?

- Would that distribution center be yours or could you push the stock straight from the

manufacturer to your logistics provider?

 

There are a number of options and considerations to ensure you optimize the stock control element of

the supply chain.

 

Logistics

We will presume you are not performing your own logistics; although of course you might be. In our

presumed case, you need to find at least one trusted logistics partner and agree service levels which will

allow you to fulfil your obligations to your customers. You must remember that your logistics partner

may be the only person representing your organisation that the customer sees. Therefore you should

ensure you have a logistics partner who you can trust to represent your brand. You will also need to

consider technology integration between your systems and those of the logistics partner.

 

To fully understand supply chain management and how to use it as a business enabler, you may consider

undertaking a professional qualification such as the Certified Supply Chain Professional (CSCP).

 

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4 Ways to Effectively Manage Remote Teams

 

By Rebecca Langdon

 

Geographic distance need not create distant relationships. In fact many organisations have

effective remote team structures which can offer many benefits such as the ability to benefit

from lower cost resource locations, and increase the cultural diversity of the employee group.

However historically the management of remote teams has proven tricky for some, and it has

caused whatever was outsourced to remote teams, to be insourced back. In this article I will

look at some of key ways to ensure remote teams operate effectively.

 

1) Hire people with personalities that cross geographical borders

This sounds simple but if your employees are going to be geographically separated, it is really

useful if you hire people with great personalities who are as good in person as they are on the

phone, Skype, or any other communication medium.

 

2) Technology

Geographical distance between remote teams may be many thousands of miles, but with the

right technology it can seem like they are in the same office as you. There are so many

technology options such as audio and video conferencing, shared work spaces, and of course

email and electronic chat.

 

3) Communication

I truly believe that the key to making remote working successful is good communication. This is

by no means a secret! Making communication easy, and making sure people interact regularly is

of absolute importance. When remote teams are newly set up, it would be useful to organise

regular communications. In time, that interaction should grow organically and the need for

diarised communication should reduce.

 

4) Culture

Whilst teams may be working remotely from each other, it is really important to develop a

common culture. There is no magic wand to achieve this and ultimately it will be led by the

management team and permeate through everything such as the way employees are trained,

remuneration method, internal policies and marketing. Having a positive and healthy culture

which is shared by the remote teams will help them to be more cohesive and effective.

 

In Summary

Many organisations operate remote teams and find it a very beneficial structure. It is not always

easy to get it right, however through culture, technology, and hiring some great personalities,

remote working needn’t feel remote.