Category Archives: Supply Chain & Logistics

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5 Reasons Your Business Needs an FM Professional

By: Morgan International Staff Writers

There are plenty of organisations out there that do not appreciate the need for an FM professional and tag the responsibilities onto another role. Very often the Office Manager will also undertake the FM responsibilities. This article is not underestimating the abilities of Office Managers or indeed any other individuals who are not FM professionals that take on the role. However, what we do know is that having a qualified Facilities Manager will undoubtedly offer additional benefit to the organization as they typically are better equipped to manage the responsibilities and contribute to strategic benefit. There are many reasons why your business needs an FM professional, but these are our top five:

 

  1. Economies of scale

By centralising all FM activities with one FM professional, they are able to see the picture and look for opportunities for synergies – this might be for example placing multiple outsourced services with one provider whereas it was carried out in-house or by multiple suppliers previously.

 

  1. Centralisation trumps decentralisation

If you decentralise the FM role to a number of individuals, coordination will be very difficult, and having a holistic view will be almost impossible. By centralising responsibilities to one individual, it is easier for senior management and the board to oversee FM activities.

 

  1. At the cutting edge

An FM professional will typically be passionate about their industry and be at the cutting edge of technological change that can offer service improvement and/or cost reduction to the organisation. This might be through the internet of things, big data, automation, and so on.

 

  1. They consider environmental impacts

As part of the formal training an FM professional receives, they will learn about organizational impact on the environment, and potential ways to reduce that footprint. We all know that corporate social responsibility is not only a hot topic at the moment, but is also hugely important for the sustainability of the planet.

 

  1. They look at FM strategically

For many years, FM was seen as an overhead to be managed and cost controlled. It covered rent, rates, utilities, and so on. However smart FM professionals know that they can offer strategic benefit to the organization. Examples are providing working spaces that make employees more productive, and renting out underutilised office space to generate income.

 

In Summary

Realistically, very small organizations may not have the money or appetite to hire an FM professional. Yet for most organizations with 20+ employees it makes economic sense to have a qualified FM professional dedicated to ensuring the strategic value of facilities managed is derived.

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Be a Logistics Superstar

By International Staff Writers

There are a number of technology changes positively affecting the logistics industry which for all intents and purposes have the limelight. In this context, how do professionals in the industry find a way to stand out? The purpose of this article is to give you some ideas of where to look in your own supply chain to look for that low hanging fruit, to make change, and get recognised for it.

Packaging
This one seems innocuous but not only is packaging itself expensive, but over packing increases the weight and size of the product, and therefore increases the cost of shipping it. Therefore this is a good place to start to check that the packaging is appropriate for the product. Don’t forget, awkward packaging or oversized packaging will also increase storage costs.

Inventory Control
Money tied up in stock tends to be high and organizations do typically have a strong focus on inventory management. However, there are other models that shift who owns the stock and when. So rather than storing a lot of inventory, some suppliers may be willing to hold stock and deliver it in a just in time fashion. This automatically reduces the cost of stock on the books – so should be considered.

Outsource
If you operate a complex supply chain but your organization’s core business is not logistics, you might consider the business case for outsourcing it to an organisation who specialises in it. This would not be a decision taken lightly, but it is absolutely worth consideration as another organization may not only be cheaper and more efficient than you are, but it may free up valuable resources for core business.
Embrace Technology
I said at the beginning that in a sense logistics professionals are competing for attention against technological advances. However, it does not have to be this way. You can be the supply chain manager who presents the advantages of new technology and builds the business case for its implementation and is therefore regarded as the superstar behind the change. Technology is key to automation, and that allows a wide raft of savings to be made.
SUMMARY
I would encourage supply chain professionals not to feel overshadowed by technological change within the industry, but look for other avenues to shine, and also embrace technology and champion it. It is a very interesting time to work in a supply chain/logistics role, and for more information on course and qualifications within the supply chain management space, please take a look at our website.

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Tech is Transforming Logistics

 

By: Morgan International Staff Writers

Logistics has consistently been seen as one area of supply chain that can offer organisational cost savings and increased efficiencies. This has ranged from route planning software, to more efficient vehicles, to sat-navs to avoid traffic on the roads. However, we are once again on the cusp of some major changes that are set to revolutionise supply chain logistics.

 

CLOUD SOLUTIONS

It is difficult to talk about technological transformation at the moment for any industry, without talking about cloud. Cloud based logistics systems are real-time and are globally accessible, whatever the time of day or night, and wherever you are located (as long as you have an internet connection). This means that throughout the entire process, key stakeholders such as customers, drivers and account managers can view the status of a shipment and can intervene if required.

 

Furthermore, the great thing about cloud is the speed and relative low cost of scaling up and down. That means a logistics company can scale for additional demand literally at the click of a button. This was close to impossible with traditional IT systems.

 

RFID

RFID stands for radio frequency identification and it is set to transform logistics by extinguishing the use of barcodes. It is a technology that uses tiny computer chips that are smaller than a grain of sand to track items from a distance. Each chip is linked to an antenna that remotely identifies it – up to 30 feet away. When a shipment arrives, all items can be simultaneously scanned, counted, and registered to the organization’s systems – without a need to individually scan barcodes.

 

IoT

The IoT at the most basic level refers to connecting objects to the internet in a useful and integrated way. An example would be having technology within vehicles so that they can connect to the logistics system – which will likely be cloud based. Having all aspects of the supply chain integrated improves shipment workflow and should result in happier customers.

 

SUMMARY

The logistics industry will never stand still and some of the technological advancements being implemented are positively transformative and disruptive – and should improve efficiencies and the speed of getting goods from A to B. It is a very interesting time to work in a supply chain/logistics role, and for more information on course and qualifications within the supply chain management space, please take a look at our website.

 

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Waving Goodbye to Supply Chain Fraud

By Rebecca Langdon

It is an unfortunate fact that supply chain fraud takes place, and can be an expensive and unforeseen cost of doing business. One of the roles of a supply chain professional is to ensure that there are robust policies and procedures in place to make fraudulent activity very difficult to carry out. Don’t forget this activity might happen from within the business, or outside. We are going to look at a few common avenues from fraudsters with recommendations to resist their attempts.

 

Scenario 1 – A business stakeholder hands out contracts to their friends/family

This is one of the most common types of supply chain fraud. A business stakeholder who has control over budget or signing off invoices will offer a contract to their friends/family. This might be in exchange for some sort of monetary payment outside of the formal transaction, a gift, or simply to help them out. The issues are that the vendor might not be suitable, or the best people for the job. Furthermore, they are unlikely to be the most cost effective option, and I suspect limited commercial negotiations will take place. Finally, the business stakeholder may not do the appropriate due diligence or implement a robust contract.

 

Solution 

Make it company policy to run tender processes or at least some sort of formal due diligence before vendors are appointed. The brevity of the procedure will typically be governed by the value and risk of the product/service. Furthermore there should be a gift policy.

 

Scenario 2 – Vendors over invoice for products/services that have not been consumed

Most supply chain managers will have been in the situation where there are a huge amount of vendors, invoicing at different times, on different terms, and against varying commercial structures. This can very easily lead to incorrect invoices being approved. Now they may be incorrect because the vendor genuinely made a mistake or perhaps they are attempting to defraud you.

 

Solution

Somebody needs to be responsible for understanding the commercial arrangement with the vendor, and then checking every invoice against that. For some vendors this will be simple as there will be a fixed fee, but for others that are based on consumption it will be a little more complicated as the business will need to track for themselves what they use (or at least be able to confidently validate the vendors number). There are also an abundance of really useful AP systems that can help with wider validation between PO’s and invoices.

 

Summary

Attempts at fraudulent activity are not going to go away, despite the potential repercussions. A qualified Supply Chain professional should be equipped with the tools and knowledge to build robust policies and procedures.

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Empower Your Supply Chain with Social Media

By Rebecca Langdon

If you haven’t heard of Twitter, Facebook, Instagram and Pinterest then you must have been living in a cave for the last ten or more years. In the last 5 years the use of social media has been hugely pervasive across almost every facet of our lives – professional and personal. We are going to take a whistle stop tour of how social media can empower your supply chain.

 

  1. Monitor demand Using social media, organizations can get to understand the demand of consumers in a more honest and transparent way than they could ever possibly access before.
  2. Research People typically have a lot to say on social media and this could give you great insight about your current and potential vendors, and perhaps even future clients.
  3. Find new vendors Through these channels you could find better vendors that you can build relationships with.
  4. Delay updates Shipment providers and other carriers may use social media as standard to provide status updates to communicate any delays both quickly and in real time.
  5. Know your customer Customers often won’t call you up to tell you if they have an issue – their first port of call will be to complain on social media.
  6. Communicate A lot of businesses now communicate with vendors on social media – answering queries and providing service updates.
  7. Collaborate and innovate Use social media as a business tool that provides you with the opportunity to learn from others and to collaborate and innovate. It is a huge platform for ideas sharing.

Social media can be daunting at first. It is a big place with lots of different channels, but don’t let this put you off. Social media offers huge potential to empower the supply chain if you are willing to put in the effort. Why not consider a supply chain qualification with Morgan International.

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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.

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Autonomous Supply Chain – Fact of Fiction?

 

By Rebecca Langdon

As human beings we continuously push towards less and less human intervention. Why? Because machines are typically more reliable, need less downtime, make fewer errors, and do not want to be paid. The upfront investment can be significant but very often the business case still stacks up given the cost of human labour. This will undoubtedly cause concern among delivery drivers, warehouse pickers, and so on. Yet the progress will not be halted. So how are businesses going to achieve an autonomous supply chain?

 

  • Drones

Amazon are already trialling drones which have the potential to deliver small packages to customers’ homes in super quick time, without getting stuck in traffic, and without any sort of remote driver. They use GPS to navigate their way from the Amazon distribution centre to the customer’s home.

 

  • Self-driving vehicles

Self-driving trucks and forklifts are no longer in our imaginations. Of course fuel will remain a burden of cost that will need to be considered, alongside the considerable capital investment. There will be a number of additional value adds such as interfacing to satellite information that will ensure the car takes the quickest route according to point to point distance and traffic.

 

  • Unmanned mobile robots

Which can be used in factories to pick and pack up stock ready to be delivered to the customer. Industry stats say that robot pickers are 4 times as quick as human pickers! It is not hard to believe since robots know the location of all items, can calculate the fastest route around the warehouse.

 

Summary

An autonomous supply chain for many years has been no more than a fantasy, but a number of technologies have evolved to a point that it may no longer be fiction. This is an incredibly exciting time to work within a Supply Chain role as we enter an unprecedented period of disruption. For more information on courses and qualifications within the supply chain management space, please take a look at our website.

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FM Stepping Up to Deliver Strategically

There has been a lot written about facilities management finally having centre stage to offer organizational strategic advantage. But is this really true or just rhetoric?

The first thing to recognize is that Facilities Management has had negative press in the past, and has been seen as a stuffy and archaic profession that only really focussed on getting the office carpets cleaned, and making sure there were supplies of tea and coffee.

Yet the strategic positioning of FM is far from rhetoric and there are a number of key areas of opportunity that can be exploited.

  • Catering to attract clients

Michelin star chefs, private dining rooms, and exquisite ingredients offered in office environments can attract new clients, or at least sway them to be keener to have meetings and appointments in your office space.

  • Video conferencing v travel

Many organizations are operating more globally than ever before. This naturally results in requirements for individuals to travel which can become incredibly expensive, and time consuming for employees as they wait around in airports and so on. There are now a number of more cost effective options such as video conferencing which has become so advanced that participants can almost feel that they are in the same room.

  • Optimising office space

Organisations can produce a lucrative revenue stream from leasing floors and space from within office buildings. This might be a lease or sub lease depending on the ownership status, but by strategically evaluating the space, there could be money to be made.

Summary

Organizations are looking for strategic advantage in places they have never looked before. The great thing about Facilities Management is that it has been previously fairly untapped, so there is a wealth of opportunity. It is such an interesting time to work within a Facilities Management role and a perfect time to consider the FMP qualification.

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The Top 5 Project Management Mistakes

By Rebecca Langdon

You will not be surprised for me to tell you that Project Managers make mistakes – of course they do – they are only human. These mistakes are unfortunately fairly common and simply having awareness of them can make it easier to avoid.

  • Mismanagement of project scope

Whilst project scope should be clearly defined at the beginning of a project, we recognize that project change may be necessary. However, there should be a clear change management process in place which is carefully reviewed for dependencies. One of the most common mistakes is allowing additional requirements to come into scope causing scope creep, when proper due diligence has not been completed.

  • Mismanagement of resources

A project will usually have a team of resources, some fully assigned to the project and others who work on it part time. Within that team you will have a mix of skill sets. There is usually scope throughout the life of the project to vary the profile of the resources. The first mistake PM’s make is to not optimally use the resources they have, and the second mistake they make is to not review the resources they need periodically against the plan and adjust accordingly.

  • Lack of feedback

If a team is to evolve and become more productive, there should be an environment where feedback can be shared and there is a process for learning what went badly, and what went well, and embedding that into future processes. This is something sprint teams are very good at as they incorporate this into their process via retrospectives. If a culture of feedback is not developed there is no environment for growth.

  • Poor communication

A Project Manager is there to manage the team, and a key part of that is to ensure that there is the right type and frequency of communication both within the team and to stakeholders. Surprisingly, one of the most common mistakes made by PM’s is either not communicating themselves and/or not ensuring communication within and outside of the team.

  • Bad attitude

The project manager is there to manage, but this does not give them carte blanche to go on an ego trip, with it being their way or the highway. Project Managers should be collaborative and encourage input and discussion.

Summary

Being a Project Manager is all about coordinating a set of resources to achieve a particular outcome. It is a role where if the basics are not done right, the project will quickly be impacted. It is however a really interesting role, and one that you can gain an accreditation in called the PMP.

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Supply Chain Sustainability – No Longer Rhetoric

By Rebecca Langdon

When I started my career in supply chain we learnt a lot about sustainability in text books. As I eagerly joined the workforce I came to realize that sustainability was something the smaller organizations rarely cared about, and the larger ones paid lip service to. As standard practice we would ask vendors about their own sustainable practices in tender processes, but they were seldom reviewed. Why? The truth is that unless it was legislative to perform sustain-ably, most organizations saw it as a distraction from the bottom line.

 

In more recent years I noticed a shift with organizations hiring professionals who were focused on organizational sustainability and environmental issues. Yet the same issue seemed to linger – that these individuals invariably had any real influence to enforce the issues. As we rapidly move through 2017, a lot of voices in the industry are finally saying that organizations are genuinely interested in sustainable supply chains. The pessimist in me wonders what could have caused this change – when altruism had always failed to produce wide reform in the past.

 

Long term resilience

Board rooms are not focusing on the short term only, they recognize that to be successful they must plan for the future. They are looking as far as 20 years ahead, and are taking business continuity and disaster recovery within their supply chains very seriously.

 

Increasing public pressure   

This is not an issue that is going to go away from a public perspective, and there are an increasing number of consumers that want transparency about how products and services they consume are manufactured. If they don’t like the answer, they will be willing to vote with their feet.

 

Smarter measurement of environmental impacts

As technology advances we are becoming better at measuring and understanding environmental impacts. This in itself allows the government and other bodies to more accurately measure the impact organizations are having on the environment and introduce controls accordingly.

 

Summary

Businesses have long talked about supply chain sustainability but rarely genuinely backed this up by their actions. As the interest in this increases I would expect supply chain professionals to be tasked with driving it forward. It looks like they may finally get to practically use what they have studied in their qualifications.