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Every day, there are billions of dollars’ worth of products moving through the global supply chain. And every day, there are thousands of concerns, complaints, and lawsuits being filed due to order problems, suspected fraudulent or knockoff items and damaged goods. Each complaint needs to be investigated and the truth of the complaint established or negated. This is a time consuming and costly part of supply chain management-particularly in a Global setting. The Middlemen Normal trade transactions usually require a middleman such as a bank or finance company. This adds even more complexity, resolution time and money to the process. Today, there is a growing interest in the direct, user-to-user e-commerce interface using blockchain technology. Enter, Blockchain Blockchain technology is a way to establish the “truth” as it relates to each step in the movement of goods. Blockchain refers mainly to the technology of encryption to assign validity to each…
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The Situation John, a MetaExpert was hired by the U.S. Air Force to help tackle the lack of concrete processes for conducting medical physicals which were causing inconsistent patient care. Prior to John’s arrival, the Air Force was providing inconsistent patient care resulting in long wait times for patients to be seen by providers. In addition, key information was being missed during appointments which caused the need for additional appointments. Outcome John led the Air Force project team through mapping their current “AS IS” processes in several functional areas and developed standardized processes where none existed. He implemented the Lean methodology to reduce excess waste in the existing processes. John made recommendations for future projects and the team was able to see immediate results with some of the “quick wins” John implemented. John’s expertise in Lean, Six Sigma, leadership, process mapping (Visio), waste reduction, and ability to implement quick wins…
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Six Sigma
MetaExpert, John, leveraged his expertise and experience with Lean, Six Sigma, process mapping, waste reduction, and quick wins to overhaul poor performance and low customer service rates in a large company in the warehouse and logistics space. He tackled slow processing times, low throughput, inventory inaccuracies, and customer order discrepancies. Outcomes John implemented automation best practices, increased volume, and decreased costs across the board. He redesigned a more efficient floor layout, implemented conveyor systems which eliminated linear foot movement and increased throughput time, and maximized automated pick systems. He employed barcode technology, thermo labels, and integrated systems which maximized efficiencies across the warehouse. In addition, he eliminated batch methodology which enabled the company to complete orders in real time. Not only did John transform these functions leading to a cost savings between $40-$60 million, his expert actions improved quality and accuracy to the customer, bumping customer satisfaction to nearly 99%.…
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Consulting Projects
Part of company problem-solving starts with an honest and objective appraisal. The company needs to evaluate if they have the human resources and political environment to properly analyze problems, develop a corrective plan, create buy-in of all stakeholders, and the leadership to make needed changes while the company continues with its daily business. In fact, making a decision to hire consulting assistance is much more than just a cost-benefit proposition. Most companies become focused on making changes when results (particularly sales or profits) turn down or don’t meet expectations. Many companies think they know what the problems or deficiencies are; however if that were the fact, why the problems? When making changes to a company’s process or procedures (or innovative ways to meet the ever-changing marketplace) it’s a wise proposition that before jumping to conclusions that the perceived problem be thoroughly investigated; regardless of how “obvious” the symptoms are.  If…
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Organizational Behavior
I recently saw a TED talk where a well-known organizational behavior expert pushed my button. As a management consultant, his presentation made a lot of sense…not only for business but also for our complex, modern times. Yves Morieux rightly pointed out (in my opinion) that we are all drowning in complexity. His main contention is that we spend way too much time doing, undoing, redoing in isolation. Even with the marvelous new technologies, we seem to be less productive and much more unhappy with our jobs. Basically, our organizational behavior is broken. Morieux felt the reason why so many workers are becoming disengaged is their frustration with burdens of complexity and the lack of job satisfaction due mainly to the need for a new way of structuring how we do business.   Traditional management theory expounds that companies need structures that clearly define the departmentalization of processes with specific job…
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US department stores - Brick & Mortar Apocalypse
Some of the largest US department stores, like Macy’s and Sears, have each closed down hundreds of stores, and traditional retailers like Payless Shoes have filed for bankruptcy.  Some reporters are saying this is the end of traditional brick-and-mortar retail, but while stores are closing, the amount of total consumer spend is rising. But are we experiencing a brick-and-mortar apocalypse? The answer is definitive: No. As the chart demonstrates, while e-commerce is growing rapidly, Online sales still only represent less than 12% of the total retail sales. There will always be a need for physical retail; however, the future of what physical retail actually looks like is an evolution and morphing guided by how customers prefer to purchase. One of the reasons for the rise of e-commerce popularity is that brick-and-mortar has not seen a significant change in decades. Customers enter a store, Search for an item, Pay, and Leave.…
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Aligning OpEx with Sales
It’s an old cliché that speaks volumes when a company finds it has a lack of initiative alignment: “The Sales Department makes promises to customers that production cannot meet.” The salesperson lives to make a sale by meeting and exceeding a customer’s needs but setting a false expectation can really burn the brand and future sales. As the sales department is normally the most customer-facing and a less controllable process than most of the other parts of a company’s processes, we will discuss alignment from the point of view of the Sales department as the “point of the spear” in most revenue based initiatives. Getting In Line: Sales Alignment Lack of initiative alignment usually happens for a variety of reasons. Even though most of those reasons are obvious, companies still violate the proper process needed for goal alignment and developing productive collaboration between various departments integral to the success of…
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Future of Supply Chain
“By 2021, one in 10 warehouse workers in established economies will be replaced by autonomous mobile robots.” Gartner Report 2017 However….. While there is some shock value to the above statement, reality takes it down a few notches. The report goes on to say in less bold type that: “By 2021, three out of five factory-level AI initiatives in large global companies will stall due to inadequate skill sets.” So, as with most new technology hype, why would companies invest in what promises to be the future of Supply Chain? I can see it now: a team of highly paid Robotic technicians huddled around a frozen robot while other workers are called to unload and stock inventory shelves. Big hourly cost. So, how do we know when to actually adopt and invest new AI-related technology? Do we listen to the sales pitches of AI vendors as they point out the…
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Industry 4.0 Technology
In a recent survey, 76% of manufacturers said they would increase their investment and use of smart devices or embedded intelligent into the manufacturing processes within the next few years. In the same survey, 66% of the manufacturing CEOs expect to increase profitability through the use of new technology and the Internet of Things (IoT) within the next five years. According to these results, Industry 4.0 is being adopted far and wide. So, what do they know that you don’t? Advances in Technology are happening at a rapid pace, and it takes special attention to not only understand how new technology functions but also how it can actually help. Indeed, is it hype or help? From a CEO’s point of view, how new technology works is secondary to how adoption could impact the company and its bottom-line. What to consider before adopting Industry 4.0 Most investigations have shown there are…
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Lean Six Sigma for Companies
What is Lean Six Sigma? Six Sigma is a set of methods and tools for process improvement with the goal of improving efficiencies and profitability. Developed in 1986, Six Sigma has become a global phenomenon with companies around the world adopting the paradigm as the core of their business operations. The “Lean” methodology is similar to Six Sigma. It stresses achieving the greatest efficiency in all characteristics of operations. Six Sigma emphasizes more on eliminating errors within processes. The lean strategy focuses on identifying needless steps that consume effort and resources. Lean Six Sigma (LSS) has proven to be so successful that it is estimated that over 69% of the medium and large manufacturers in the world use it. I mean, who doesn’t want to be efficient and well organized? In fact, as businesses grow, the tendency is to become more inefficient and less organized. These two methodologies have spawned…
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