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4 Ways Project Management Can Help a Growing Business-02

4 Ways Project Management Can Help a Growing Business

By Rebecca Langdon

The larger organisations typically have a well implemented project management capability, often with a PMO team, a host of PM’s, the works. Their size often makes it economic and efficient to have this separate team. However what about smaller businesses that are growing, doing an increasing number of projects, but are still feeling the way in terms of project management processes and what they can do for them? These are the 4 key ways that Project Management best practice can help a growing business.

  1. Improve Project Estimation

What something is going to cost is almost always critical to whether or not that project is feasible or not from a business perspective. One of the key mistakes made when project management process is not employed is absent or inaccurate project estimation. Upfront estimation and a process for periodically updating that estimate is vital for project success. It also assists businesses to not carry out projects that are not economically viable, and to avoid unexpected cost slip during a project.

  1. Resource Capability Planning

If you are a small business you may not have a huge amount of resources, whether that be internal or an external pool you tap into. However, that does not negate the need to plan resources and assess what the output capability is of the resources that you do have. In fact, it is this project process of estimating resource output that is excellent best practice to be used more widely in the organisation.

  1. Encourage Team Collaboration

A Project Team when set up correctly will be able to efficiently and effectively communicate and collaborate, within the team itself, and to other stakeholders. This is often instigated via a set of project processes, but the result is typically increased collaboration which was spring-boarded from the initial processes.

  1. Improved Reporting and Transparency

The thing about formal projects is that they usually have reporting and data collection requirements built into their processes. Data collection and reporting when done correctly are valuable business tools that are useful throughout the business. Therefore if this can be learnt through the project process, it can be implemented more widely.

In Summary

Smaller businesses may not feel that they can afford project management from both a financial perspective and the burden of additional time. It is true that when implemented poorly, project management can cause unhelpful delays and unwanted costs. Yet in reality, when used appropriately, and mindfully of the size of the project and business in question, it can be hugely beneficial for the project itself and for the wider organisation to learn from. For further information on project management techniques, feel free to explore the PMP course.

The Many Faces of Logistics

Within the CSCP qualification, budding Supply Chain Managers learn a lot about the different types of logistics and how they contribute to the wider organization. It is one of the main organizational functions and it has a very wide reaching and important role. So whether you are already studying and this is a quick recap, or perhaps you are considering becoming qualified, we hope you find this useful.
Procurement Logistics

Procurement logistics covers a number of activities such as requirements planning, researching the market, make or buy decisions, managing suppliers, and ordering. In essence it is procuring the goods and/or services.
Production Logistics

Production logistics covers processes within a value added system, such as a factory. Within the factory example its purpose would be to ensure that each machine has the materials it needs at the right time, the right quantity and at the right quality. As Logistics Managers’ focus on smaller inventories and batch sizes, just in time becomes an important methodology for consideration.
Distribution Logistics

This covers getting the products/services to the customer in the right condition, in the right place, in the right quality, and at the agreed time. If you consider a next day delivery service for a company such as Amazon who sell a vast range of products, you can easily imagine the complexity of getting it right first time, every time.
Disposal Logistics

This refers to the management of and minimization of costs associated to disposal of waste during the production of goods and services. For example it might be disposal of waste by-products created in a factory.

Summary

These are the main subcategories within the overarching logistics function. It is an exciting role, and offers the opportunity to deliver business value to an organization. If you are interested in learning more, why not consider the CSCP qualification.

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Tacking Marketing Project Management

By Rebecca Langdon

You may be asking yourself why we are singling marketing out as a discipline that needs its own article on how to run project management. It is a good question and one that we are about to answer. Marketing projects are often more complex than traditional projects due to the wide range of tasks being carried out, from weekly SEO to monthly newsletters, to huge and complex global ad campaigns. Work done via social media has a very different profile to above the line with social media requiring greater agility hence leaner processes.

  • Project Templates

Yes the projects vary, but there will be common themes that will allow you to produce a set of templates to increase efficiency. Work out what the main types of projects are and create a set of templates that can allow consistency whilst recognising variability across the portfolio.

  • Programme Management

If you view the marketing efforts as a programme of work which is the machine, the cogs are all of the projects. For the machine to be productive, all of the cogs must be operating efficiently and cohesively. While resources and stakeholders will operate within one or more projects, but unlikely the entire programme, it is important to introduce programme level communication.

  • Embracing Marketing Metrics

Measures in other departments are often far simpler and fewer in number; most commonly being related to delivery of a pre-defined set of requirements such as a software installation. Marketing is often different in that the success of a project is typically another measure once the requirement is delivered. For example, the requirement of Project A might be a video on demand ad, but the measures of success go beyond if the ad was delivered. There will be measured targets including the number of viewers who saw the ad, and how many of those were within the target customer profile.

  • Process Flows

Different marketing projects will require different process flows. I said at the beginning that the project templates will differ and the same is true for process flows. An agile project for example will have a leaner set of processes and will likely rely on backlogs, sprints, and scrums. Whereas a more traditional project will lend itself to a more process driven waterfall workflow.

In Summary

The breadth of the activities within the marketing function, and the exposure to the ever changing social media environment, mean that to be effective, project management must be adaptive. For further information on project management techniques, feel free to explore the PMP course.

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Innovating Facilities Management Service Delivery

By Rebecca Langdon

Gone are the days when facilities management was an operational business activity which was really just about keeping the building lights on. It is now considered strategically important for many organizations, as it can offer competitive advantage and contribute measurable gains. This has primarily occurred through innovation of service delivery within the facilities management space in recent years, and a wave of outsourcing has pushed forward the industry as suppliers have competed to win and maintain business.

Technology

It would be unusual to read an article like this without technology being mentioned. However it is demonstrably revolutionizing FM service delivery. Take a couple of examples. Firstly, building security teams being given wearable body cameras to increase visitor security, and to also protect them in case of any incidents. Secondly, Serco has implemented a robotic delivery system in a hospital in the UK. It operates behind the scenes in dedicated tunnels and service areas. It delivers food, collects linens, administers medicines, and even cleans large areas. It has not only freed up time for porters to spend with patients, but it has reduced infections.

Outsourcing

This leads me neatly onto outsourcing to companies such as Serco, and why that is encouraging innovation. Why are outsource providers more innovative typically than internal FM teams? I believe there are two main reasons for this. Firstly, internal teams are more likely to suffer from cultural inertia, fear of change, and perhaps even fear of losing their jobs given that some innovations result in job losses. Secondly, outsourced firms are usually asked to bid against each other to be awarded work. Whilst cost will be a key factor, most organizations will look to innovate to gain a competitive edge over their peers. This means they are more likely to invest in R+D more readily, just like Serco did with their delivery robots.


Summary

What an exciting time to work within Facilities Management as it is finally being considered a strategic organizational function. Gaining an accreditation is worthwhile if you are considering a career in FM.

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Five Questions CEOs Should Ask Their Supply Chain Manager

By Rebecca Langdon

Many leading organizations such as Amazon are using their supply chains to delight customers. In fact there are a growing cohort of businesses that rely on their supply chain to deliver competitive advantage and a marketable unique selling point. We are not expecting CEOs to understand the minute details, but we do expect them to recognize the huge contribution the supply chain has to their success and to be asking the right questions. So what are they?

  • Is the supply chain strategically important?

For some organizations the supply chain does not hold the same level of strategic importance as it does in other organizations. Therefore the level of attention given to it by the CEO should be proportionate to its importance.

  • Is quality embedded?

The ideal situation is for quality of product or service to be built into the workings of the supply chain. You could consider this a TQM approach to the supply chain. It is important for quality to be integrated and checked at every stage, otherwise you are always operating corrections after the event. For example, is a customer happier with a faulty product replaced, or a product that arrives in perfect condition?

  • Is the supply chain optimized?

A lot of supply chains are complex and they have developed over time. This can often lead to inefficiencies which go unnoticed. The CEO of any company should be asking for the supply chain to be mapped, analysed and for any duplications or inefficiencies to be reduced, thereby streamlining the supply chain.

  • Where are the risks?

Each supply chain will have its own inherent high pressure/risk points. The key is to identify where these are and to have a back-up plan. An example might be a material in the supply chain which has a high risk of being unavailable from the incumbent supplier. In that scenario an alternative supplier or material should be pre agreed as a substitute.

  • Is the supply chain able to change?

The supply chain is not static and will need to change to maintain effectiveness and meet business demands. Therefore it is important what whilst change is overseen, it is not overly restricted by policies and procedures.

Summary

The strategic importance of the supplier change varies between organizations, but I can’t think of one where it should not warrant interest from the CEO. The supply chain will undoubtedly continue to gain interest as it is successfully being used by the likes of Amazon to gain competitive advantage. It is a great time to work within a supply chain role, and if you are interested, then have a look at the CSCP course information.

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 4 Quality Decision Making Six Sigma Tools

By Rebecca Langdon

Six Sigma has tools which allow organizations to make quality decisions. We all know that an organizations ability to make good decisions quickly is imperative to their success in the modern day economy.

Multi-Voting

The facilitator helps the team devise a list of potential decisions or improvements. Then a specific number of votes is given to each participant which they can then allocate to the options. The decisions or improvements with the most ideas may then go through another round of multi voting depending on the original number of options, and the desired number to implement.

Failure Modes and Effects Analysis

This is essentially a risk assessment whereby the team are asked to consider all possible problems which could arise in each particular improvement if it were to be implemented. They then rate the likelihood of it happening, the impact if it did, and the likelihood of early detection before the impact. That then produces a rating which allows the team to determine a solution.

Pugh Matrix

Team members compare improvements using a simple rating system whereby a list of criteria are established and a weight is agreed for each criterion. The weight itself relates to the importance of the improvement for reaching organizational or project goals. The criteria are compared against a standard which is usually the current situation. For each of the criterion the team member will decide if the improvement would be better or worse than the current situation. The total for each improvement based upon the weightings and ratings will guide the final choice.

Summary

Six sigma itself is a set of tools and techniques to improve processes. Of importance is making sure that the improvements to be implemented are going to contribute maximum organizational benefit, recognising that there will be resource constraints for any changes made. In all cases, Six Sigma encourages team based approaches to decide upon which changes will be implemented. To become accredited in Six Sigma, you could undertake a Certificates in Quality.

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Sustainable Supply Chain

By Rebecca Langdon

Many organizations speak about increasing the sustainability of their supply chains. In reality this can be achieved in many areas of the supply chain and it is something that you will learn more about if you decide to study for your CSCP. In the meantime, here are some key ideas.

  • Logistics

Planning routes effectively to minimize fuel use, and also utilizing lower emission vehicles where possible. As a Supply Chain Manager, ensuring these things happen will likely be part of a tender process if the organization outsources haulage for example.

  • Reverse logistics

The idea behind reverse logistics is giving re-use to a product or parts of the product at the end of its normal lifecycle. For example, once a mobile contract is up, encouraging the user to send it back for component re-use. Very often there is a small reward offered for trading the mobile device back in.

  • Recyclable packaging

This is of course only relevant for products as opposed to services, but ensuring that suppliers use recyclable materials where possible is a good way to increase the sustainability of the supply chain. It is recognized that some recyclable materials will be less expensive than the non-recyclable equivalent, therefore this will be a consideration.

  • Giving back or taking less

Many organizations that take from the environment to fulfil their supply chain requirements give back via schemes such as the planting of trees. Others run low energy offices whereby they make use of technology such as solar panels and LED lighting.

In Summary

Supply Chain Managers should have awareness of the key methods to achieve increased sustainability, although it may not be among the strategic objectives of all organisations.

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Effective Project Management

I have worked in organizations where Project Management has become an industry in itself, becoming an overhead and a burden. In this specific case, no matter the type of project, the value, complexity, or risk, a Project Manager was assigned. This caused frustration:

  • For managers and teams within the business who felt like projects were being overwhelmed with bureaucracy that added no value.
  • For the Project Managers assigned to work on projects that clearly could be more efficiently run by the line managers within the business.

Process Layer or Process Improvement

In the same organization I referred to in the introduction, this frustration went on for a number of years. The result was overspending on Project Management and slow delivery of business change. Line Managers started to try and find ways to implement changes outside of the formal process. So how can an organization strike the balance and use Project Management effectively, and not introduce an unwanted process layer?

The answer itself is very simple. Organizations must have thresholds and measures to decide if a piece of work should be done by the business itself, or if Project Management is required. Factors will likely include budget, risk, complexity and so on. If this framework is implemented correctly, Project Management can be used for what it was intended, and empower the business to manage everything else.

A Step Further

Once an organization has found a way to put all business change into these two groups, it can push its maturity a step further and introduce project delivery methodologies such as a ‘lite’ and a standard. This recognizes that some projects will require more or less support from the PM’s. This then drives the process that particular project would be supported by.

In Summary

The good news about organizations taking the above approach is that Project Managers will only work on the more interesting and complex projects. If you are considering undertaking a Project Management qualification such as the PMP, please do take a look at the course details.

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The Strategic Sourcing Process

 

By Rebecca Langdon

There are a few slightly different versions of the procurement cycle or strategic sourcing process. However in most cases the cycle depicted has 7 key steps and in this article each will be explained.

Step 1: Category assessment

If you imagine the category as being all of the spend that you have responsibility for. For example you might be an IT Sourcing Manager for a firm in Jordan managing a spend of 10 million JOD. The assessment would entail reviewing the spend profile and all of the contracts to look for any opportunities.

Step 2: Requirement definition and scope

One you have an idea of potential opportunities, or perhaps new requirements, you can start to produce a scope. For example perhaps the firm has a contract for 50 blackberry devices but there is a business requirement to move to iPhone. We will carry this example through for the rest of the article.

Step 3: Strategy development

You need to now look at the detail of the current relationship with the Blackberry provider, for example do you have a termination clause you need to execute. You will then need to design the sourcing process you plan to undertake. Perhaps you will conduct an RFI and then an RFP, or maybe there is only one suitable vendor so a competitive process is not applicable. This is the point at which best practice would be to pull together a sourcing document which explains the strategy you plan to execute, and why.

Step 4: Strategy execution

It is time to execute the strategy you developed.

Step 5: Negotiation and contract award

This step covers final commercial and contractual negotiations with the supplier of choice.

Step 6: Implementation and transition

You should have already been considering the implementation plan and the transition from Blackberry to iPhone. This is when the users will actually give their blackberries back and be given iPhones. There will be lots of other technology details going on in the background, and you will want to make sure the new tariff gets implemented correctly.

Step 7: Supplier relationship management

Once the new iPhone supplier is in place, you need to agree how you will manage the relationship. It may be a quarterly review of the service, or more or less frequent as appropriate.

In Summary

Each of the 7 steps of the strategic sourcing process has been explained. However it is important to note that not every procurement exercise will cover all 7 steps, and there are also many examples where the steps will not be linear. This is not necessarily a sign of bad practice, but designing the sourcing process to align with the business requirement. This article has only given the high level details of each of the steps, and for more information you might consider undertaking the CSCP program.

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10 Steps for a Successful Team Meeting

 

By Kate Rawdon

 

Our Lean Six Sigma course covers the most effective way to hold meetings that actually benefit your projects and your business, by teaching key principles that can completely overhaul your team meetings.

 

Here are 10 simple steps that you can follow to make your team meetings more productive.

1.       Have a clear meeting purpose

It might sound obvious, but many meetings are conducted almost for the sake of it, so make sure you’re having a meeting for a clear purpose, even if it’s just a progress report.

2.       Assign meeting roles

Having defined meeting roles ensure that all relevant levels of responsibility for a project are covered. Think about what aspects of a project need to be represented as you put together the meeting plan.

3.       Create an agenda

Having an agenda that sets out the order and flow of the meeting is key to making sure it actually achieves its purpose.

4.       Manage the meeting

Managing a meeting means making sure the agenda is followed, and the meeting is completed within the set timeframe of the meeting itself, with all points concluded to the satisfaction of all attendees.

5.       Group dynamics

It’s important that each attendee at the meeting is heard from and feels useful, because each team member at a meeting has a part to play in the project.

6.       Decision making

Knowing and agreeing on how you’re going to reach decisions in a meeting means your meetings can lead to definitive actions.

7.       Make clear notes

You can have the best and most productive meeting you’ve ever had, but if it’s not properly documented then confusion can inevitably follow. Make sure you have clear minutes to refer back to.

8.       Have clearly defined actions

Giving all relevant attendees clearly defined actions to complete as a result of the meeting will mean the meeting actually moves the project on.

9.       Create clearly defined deadlines

Discussing timescales for follow-up actions means everyone is on the same page and working to the same timetable.

10.   Book your next meeting

If you’re going to have progress meetings then make sure you book your next meeting as soon as possible. This motivates team members to achieve progress.

 

To find out more about Lean Six Sigma meetings, methods and roles, sign up for our Lean Six Sigma courses today. Not only will you bring great value to your business, but you’ll also boost your own earning potential when you gain this valuable certification.