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5 Ways Digitization Transformed the Supply Chain

Digitization has proved to benefit the efficiency and productivity of the supply chain. The point of digitizing is to revamp supply chain management and to streamline repetitive tasks. A 2017 study from McKinsey found the average supply chain has a digitization level of 43 percent and only 2 percent of executives said that the supply chain is the focus of their digital strategies. Seizing an opportunity to digitize the supply chain has surprisingly been a challenge for a lot of companies. Embracing new technology also means revamping operational practices – which could even mean building a whole new management strategy.

The best way to digitize is to integrate advanced, leading-technology and revamp operations. Management usually understands the measures to the transformation approach – establishing a vision for the future supply chain, assessing the current state and envisioning the future path to take.

We’ve analyzed five different ways that digitization influenced the innovation of the supply chain.

  1. Supporting major operations like warehouse management.

    It was clear there was a need for innovating warehouse management. Tasks were becoming too tedious and were at risk for being mismanaged. Digital technology provides tansformative capabilities for inventory management. Linking cross-functional data like inventory, shipments, and schedules from internal and external sources, forecasting demand and performance. This is a way for planning to become more precise, and problems can be anticipated and prevented. A supply chain digital-transformation, then, is about establishing how applications can improve cost, agility and inventory levels to drive operational excellence. Our ComplyLink software is an automated database that tracks and traces every order that comes through an order management system – helping to manage inventory levels. Scanning routines like scan/pack, scan/print and scan/verify with ComplyLink automatically updates the database with shipping data. As a result, it eliminates the need for manual entry of order data making warehouse management more efficient and accurate.

  2. Digital transformation employs analytics, artificial intelligence, and other advanced technology to collect and process information automatically.

    Before digital technology, orders were processed by hand; getting passed along, person to person. Each time facing error-prone updates causing incorrect or delayed orders. Files were easily lost and entering data was a painstaking task. Our suspicious order monitoring software, SOMLink, is designed with a repository to store critical information pertaining to each customer. Each time an order is processed we compare it to past orders in regards to frequency, size and pattern. This allows companies to quickly identify and be alerted about orders of interest. Instead of delegating a single person to manually keep track of records for orders of interest and report then to the DEA, we created a solution to automatically process and store that information. SOMLink automatically captures orders of interest before they are fully processed and directly reports them to the Drug Enforcement Administration. Significantly reducing the risk for businesses.

  3. New technology can integrate better methods for collaboration.

    The key to supply chain success isn’t just a matter of buying and installing software. It’s about utilizing this software to reach the highest level of collaboration because it allows for an end-to-end perspective and update of the supply chain. This supports the overall mission of changing the ways employees and teams share/gather information. It also seeks out problems and opportunities for improvement, reaches decisions and carries out actions. The newest digital technologies can move a company forward with better methods of collaboration and prevent them from returning to their old ones. For that reason, both of our solutions have a multi-user interface feature that encourages collaboration among team members. It’s a key value for us to ensure our solutions make businesses more efficient and operations a lot smoother.

  4. Digitization can provide better end-to-end customer engagement.

    When supply chains utilize digital technology it allows the process to be undeniably transparent. The technology gives mangers more control with the orders and having a system that automates everything provides customers with detailed updates about their shipments. These updates include routing information, quantity of contents, and the date they’ll be shipped and delivered, also known as an advanced shipping notice. ComplyLink has a transportation management feature where suppliers and their customers can electronically exchange information from purchase orders to shipment authorizations. We make it easy to keep your customer “in the loop” so communication is not lost, and shipments are expected. The TMS feature also sends detailed advanced shipping notices to customers allowing them to prepare ahead of time for orders.

  5. Digital technologies provide deeper, more insightful assessments on supply chain performance.

    Integrating supply chain processes with ERP systems sets up data streams from sources within its organization. Incoming data is fed into the same processing engine where it can be connected to show how activities and decisions in one area of the supply chain affect other operations.  Linking related data sets can uncover systemic issues including: mismatched lead times and past-due purchased orders that hinder future key performance indicators of future demand for extended suppliers.  The consequences of not linking related data sets leads to customer order delays. This ties closely with that end-to-end perspective necessary for supply chain success.  Supply chains quickly have a domino effect if technology is not employed. One area of the supply chain isn’t fully up to speed and another area is waiting on them, it prevents high levels of work getting done. This feature ensures efficiency and create high-end productivity among the team.

 

 

Source: https://www.mckinsey.com/business-functions/operations/our-insights/digital-transformation-raising-supply-chain-performance-to-new-levels
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What Defines A Leader?

Daniel Goleman, an internationally known psychologist, interviewed with Forbes Magazine reporter Dan Schwabel on what makes an effective and impactful leader. Goleman talks about the types of leadership characteristics that are the most important in the business world and what the real definition of a leader is. All of this can be read more in depth in his book, Focus: The Hidden Driver of Excellence.

We took Goleman’s leadership characteristics and applied them to supply chain management. In an ever-changing industry, how can we build the best leaders in the business to create an overall efficient system? A system that harnesses different levels of talent in different ways to keep the supply chain moving forward.

  1. Studies conducted have proven the top 10 percent of executives display superior competencies in emotional intelligence, rather than just in purely cognitive thinking. Capabilities like self-confidence and initiative, bouncing back from setbacks and staying cool under stress, are essential when it comes to leadership in this industry.

    While working in the ever-busy supply chain industry and managing every piece of it, stress is inevitable. It’s how our leaders manage themselves that will impact how others react in any given situation. Through understanding emotional intelligence and how it works, supply chain leaders can inspire others’ reactions and behaviors to given situations. Emotional intelligence skills convert to diffusing conflicts, improving relationships and improving communication in the workplace. If above all else, we put an enormous emphasis on communication in the supply chain. So many moving parts and systems involved, leaders on staff must have top-level communication skills, lest the supply chain fails.

  2. Goleman makes the distinction between leaders who are smart and leaders who are wise. Smart leaders are good at things like running a business and getting quarterly results. Wise leaders have a larger sense of the social and environmental systems we operate within, as well as an expanded view of stakeholders.

    The ability to visualize an end-to-end perspective of your supply chain is a must have skill in all leaders. Having a feel for how your market is running and if more or less supplies needs to be made is critical. A smart leader creates short-term goals and sticks to them. This gets the team through the day-to-day, but what about the overarching goal? A wise leader forms a long-term vision and goal for the company, and applies that to every single short-term goal. How do our strategy, talent, processes and technology goals rank to the long-term goal? Can our leaders manage several employees’ needs, oversee the stream of orders, and keep track of equipment and supplies? A supply chain leader tunes into their market by acknowledging busy seasons and products in high demand, and starts preparing his/her team in advanced so they don’t get defeated.

  3. A leader is a passionate worker and shares that passion with co-workers. A person who is not finding passion in their work right now might consider how to make a portion of their job “good work,” or how to enlarge that portion over the course of their career.

    It is important for a leader to inspire and influence team members to do their job. Some employees are there because they have a knack for logistics, efficiency and order management. These are the people who spend time looking for the flaws in their processes and suggest new ways to conduct business. For those who are there simply for a paycheck, leaders must work to make them feel like an integral part of the supply chain. It’s cliché to say “we’re all in this together,” and “teamwork makes the dreamwork,” however helping them find something new, or different about their job each day/week/month/year can instill a passion in them and have them strive for excellence.

  4. Leaders have triple focus. The inner focus, or core, is centered on their own feelings, values and intuitions, and to manage themselves well. The next focus is on others and how well leaders can read people, which is key in managing relationships. An outer focus lets the leader understand the larger forces and systems that they must navigate. As well as determine the best strategy going forward.

    In today’s world, focus isn’t so mainstream because we live where there are thousands of distractions. A person who has the skillset to isolate their focus internally and externally is a person destined for leadership. For any supply chain leader, they must first understand how they learn, understand and operate the technology and systems, then continue to build on that before leading others. The next level of focus – the one that centers on reading others – allows leaders to quickly figure out how to coach each employee individually. What is their learning technique? What do they respond to as far as your teaching style? It is highly important leaders grasp each persons’ learning style, especially when teaching them about the technology used to pack, pick and ship orders to ensure efficiency and accuracy.

  5. Everyone with a sphere of influence is a leader, whether they have the explicit job description or not.

    Job title is irrelevant when it comes to leadership. A manger can be a manger, but still not a leader. A leader effects change and motivates team members to do a good job. Others look to them for inspiration and mentorship. This is where having a variety of talent on the team leads to success. Peer-to-peer interaction should be encouraged in your supply chain. New ideas can come from anyone and sometimes the best ideas come from those who are on the frontline of the supply chain each day. Innovation should be encouraged from your leaders to continually shape the path of success.

Leaders can come from anywhere within the organization. From line workers to top executives. The important thing to take away here is watch your workers. Watch how they interact with one another, how or who they look to each other for guidance. In an industry that is constantly adapting to new technology and consumer demands, too many leaders just can’t be possible.

 

Source:

https://www.forbes.com/sites/danschawbel/2014/03/18/daniel-goleman-the-truth-about-what-makes-a-great-leader/#70e0f6e33671

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National Take Back Day 2018

The next National Take Back Day is Oct. 27, 2018!

June is National Safety Month, but we’re not talking big machinery safety. We’re talking about the safety of our health. Twice a year the Drug Enforcement Administration sponsors National Take Back Day. They partner with law enforcement and various pharmacies within communities to provide ways for patients to dispose of unused, unwanted and expired prescriptions. The purpose behind this day is to provide a safe, convenient and responsible way to dispose of drugs, opposed to tossing them in the trash. The day also serves as a way of educating the public about the potential for drug abuse. Your medicine may be helpful for you, but remember it’s most likely harmful to someone else.

What if I can’t make it to a registerd facility to dispose my prescriptions?

While it is preferred prescriptions be taken back to registered officials, there are ways to dispose of them at the house. Most prescriptions come with specific directions on how to get rid of them when they are no longer needed. Be sure to always check the patient information booklet attached to your prescriptions packaging. Some medicines can be especially harmful to others, in which case they have instructions to immediately flush them down a sink or toilet. This fully eliminates the potential risk of someone reaching into the garbage and taking them.

Another common household way to dispose of your prescriptions is by throwing them in the trash. Now it’s not as simple as it

seems. There’s definitely extra steps involved to ensure the safety of everyone in the house. If you opt to throw medicine away, follow these steps provided by the FDA:

  1. Remove the drugs from their original container and mix them with something that is unappealing such as coffee grounds, cat litter, or dirt. This makes the medicine undesirable to children and pets, and unrecognizable to someone who may go through the trash.

    Photo courtesy of the FDA; www.fda.gov

  2. Put the mixture in a seal-able container to prevent the drug from leaking or spilling out.
  3. Throw the container in the garbage.
  4. Take the original prescription bottle and with a permanent marker scratch out all personal information. Doing so protects your identity and privacy. You may also peel the label off and shred it.

Should you have any questions about your medicine always contact your health provider or pharmacist.

Environmental Concerns Addressed

 

Keeping these drugs out of our water supply is crucial as well for preventing drug addictions. That is why it is important only drugs with instructions to be flushed or poured down the drain. Other prescriptions and over-the-counter drugs should be taken to take-back-programs or mixed with other trash in a seal-able container. While we’re trying to keep medicine out of the wrong hands, we also need to strive to keep it out of our water supply.

As we continue to combat the opioid epidemic, helpful tips like these, or even days dedicated to collecting loose and unwanted drugs benefit everybody.

Any further questions, or for more background information and regulations visit the DEA’s website here.

 

Sources:
https://www.fda.gov/ForConsumers/ConsumerUpdates/ucm101653.htm#steps
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Sears Closing 72 Stores in the Near Future

Sears Holdings announced this week that they have identified one hundred additional stores that continue to be unprofitable. Representatives of the company say they are not liquidating just for the sake of liquidating, instead their plan is to get capital in order to fulfill pensions for their employees. The department store chain has found themselves in a constant cycle of closing low performing stores to reduce costs. But even as expenses were cut, sales continued to fall further.

At the end of the first quarter, Sears and Kmart had 894 stores operating. That’s 381 fewer than it had a year ago. In January 2018 the company announced the closing of 64 Kmart stores and 39 Sears stores. Some locations are even being auctioned off online.

CEO of Sears Holdings said they’re not erring on the side of “this store might work,” however instead of investing the time and money, they’re staying on the cautious side.

To read the full CNBC story, click here.

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Workforce Domination: Millennials and Supply Chain Management

Millennials are quickly taking over the workforce. The Governance Studies at Brookings predicts that by 2025, 75 percent of the workforce will be millennials. So, what will become of the supply chain in the millennial workforce?

A study done at the close of 2017 by the Council of Supply Chain Management Professional found striking results in regards to the future. CSCMP interviewed 300 young professionals. Of those 300, 70 percent are working towards a bachelor’s degree and 54 percent are majoring in supply chain management or a related field. The reason? When choosing a career choice, millennials gravitate to jobs that give endless opportunities and different types of jobs. They’re also looking for an abundance of room for growth. Millennials appreciate the surplus of opportunities for internships and first hand learning, saying it gives them perspective into the job before graduation.

Job satisfaction is another reason young professionals are looking to supply chain management for their career choice. When asked, 88 percent responded positively in regards to their overall job. Most using words such as “good”, “meaningful” and “enjoyable”.

Despite these reported high levels of job satisfaction, millennials are always looking for the next great job opportunity. A way for them to design, develop and implement business strategies of their own.

Millennials and the Attraction to Supply Chain Management

In the past 20 years we’ve been around, we’ve seen consumerism turn into an around-the-clock, on-demand industry, an increase in prescription drug abuse, and more and more shipping regulations put in place by big retailers and automakers. And throughout it all, we had to tailor our software to meet those demands.

These are the things millennials crave to be a part of. They want to effect change. After all they’re a huge reason new consumerism trends are emerging from brick-and-mortar stores to online, 2-day delivery.

Supply chain management provides millennials with the task of problem solving and analyzing business’s needs. Solving supply chain problems requires sorting through piles of data and delve into descriptive, predictive and prescriptive analytics.

A career in supply chain management also provides opportunities for millennials to make an impact. Lots of businesses are struggling to keep up with growing consumerism trends. We work to decrease those chances by completely customizing our software for our clients. Tailoring our software for clients makes projects impactful – even the slightest change brought on a company’s supply chain has a large impact on how it runs overall. Every decision made changes the face of the company strategy and organizational structure.

The wide varieties the supply chain industry offers keeps millennials engaged and stand out as a key reason they study supply chain management.

Sources:

https://www.forbes.com/sites/workday/2016/05/05/workforce-2020-what-you-need-to-know-now/#45d7ff062d63

http://www.supplychainquarterly.com/files/pdfs/YP_insert_final.pdf

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Consumerism – Then and Now

You’re a consumer, I’m a consumer – we’re all consumers, and in today’s modern world, appearance goes a long way and captured the attention of millions. The evolution of consumerism has rocketed forward in the last 10 years bringing the supply chain world with it.

Picture this: 10 years ago you walked into a brick and mortar store, found those amazing jeans the model had on in the catalog only to discover they don’t have the right size. Back then you more than likely would have accepted the item was unavailable and perhaps you waited for it to be restocked. The key word here being “waited”. A store associate even told you when to check back into the store for those jeans. Or maybe you chose to order them from the catalog and called to place the order. Those jeans would arrive in 1 to 2 weeks. Great!

Today, the demand in the fashion and apparel industry is a 24/7/365 operation. Consumers expect to be able to order those same jeans in the store, online. They then want immediate gratification of them arriving in the mail the next day. Here’s another scenario:  the consumer asks the salesperson to order the item and they realize it’s completely out of stock online and don’t know when it will be restocked. Good luck to the employee delivering that news. That’s just unacceptable in today’s world.

The demand in retail has grown exponentially over the years. We have things like Etsy, online garage sale sites and overnight shipping where you pay almost the same amount as the product itself. But people go nuts over it! Stores have to compete with retail giants that only exist in a virtual world because consumers would rather sit on the couch to shop versus getting in the car and driving five miles down the road. It’s way more convenient for them to order clothes online and if they don’t fit, you just put them back in the box, schedule a pick-up and it’s good riddance. 

What else do store have to compete with? Protecting their brand. One reason B2B shipping fails is due to brand loyalty. Consumers expect brands to have products shipped to the right place at the right time. Retailers are on the front line on this consumer explosion not the suppliers. But if the supplier’s supply chain fails, or can’t keep up due to outdated software, they lose a client. On the flip-side, if a product is not stocked in the stores, people will shop elsewhere. If it doesn’t meet quality expectations, people will return the item and complain on social media, deterring other consumers from shopping there.

Malls are feeling even more pressure with the boom in e-commerce. Many of their anchor stores have closed or are closing in the near future due to a lack in foot traffic. Consumer habits are undergoing a rapid change. More notably the decrease in interest in spending a Saturday afternoon at the mall with friends. in 1970, Randall Park Mall east of Cleveland was the largest mall in the U.S. In 2015, they closed and the land was revived in 2017 as an Amazon fulfillment center. Ironic. 

So what can we as supply chain professionals do to compete with this trend? Is B2B shipping a thing in the past? Will it be extinct in the near future?

For the past 20 years the demand for supply chain collaboration between retailers and suppliers. Poor order fulfillment and late shipments are often the result of poor visibility to demand and order regulations put in place by the retailer.

In arecent benchmark study on the state of retail-vendor supply chain relationships, both retailers and vendors were asked to rate the barriers to better collaboration.

What was discovered? The top rated barrier for both retailers and vendors/manufacturers is a lack of quality/availability of data to act upon to collaborate (scale of 1 to 7, with 7 being the highest barrier – score is the average among respondents). This lack of actionable information is of course the essence of the initiatives around ECR, CPFR, RFID, etc.

 

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DEA and States Share Prescription Drug Information to Combat Opioid Abuse

The Drug Enforcement Administration and attorneys general from 46 states, the District of Columbia and Puerto Rico will now share prescription drug information with one another to help with criminal investigations tied to opioids. The DEA will provide data from its Automation of Reports and Consolidated Order Systems, which collects 80 million transaction reports annually, and the attorneys general will provide the DEA information from their state-run prescription drug monitoring programs. Better information means better decisions . That means the 48 attorneys general and DEA can prosecute the criminals who are contributing to our national drug emergency… Keep Reading.

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Bon-Ton Announces the Closing of all Department Stores

The Bon-Ton Stores, a chain of department stores that trace its origins to 1854, applied for Chapter 11 bankruptcy protection in February, but failed to find a buyer. With a significant geographic operating footprint and operating presence, the store is dependent on traffic. “Foot traffic” for stores has decreased as customers shift increasingly toward online retailers,” said the company. The company says big retailers like JCPenny, Kohl’s and Macy’s are squeezing them out.  Bon-Ton is the parent company of Younkers, Carson’s and more. The stores will hold liquidation sales until late July.  Keep Reading…