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First Thoughts
  By Dan Gilmore - Editor-in-Chief  
     
   
  October 23, 2008  
     
  Supply Chain News: The 10 Best Quotes from CSCMP 2008  
 

After our CSCMP 2008 show review and comment a couple of weeks ago, this week I thought it would be fun to pick out some of the most interesting quotes I heard coming out of the sessions.

(1) Let’s start with one from Ralph Drayer, former chief logistics officer at Procter & Gamble, during a panel discussion on technology: “At P&G, we decided to stop being so company-centric, and start being customer-centric and demand-driven. We found when you do that, some amazing things happen.”

I bet lots of companies would experience the similar revelations if they really started to build their supply chains and programs from a customer-centric point of view. Traditional ways of doing business are very hard to break – but look how P&G has prospered from changing its “belief window.”

Gilmore Says:

With all the current concern about risk mitigation, it is critical to start “looking around corners” and trying to foresee problems before they fully emerge. 


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(2) From Bill Copacino, formerly head of Accenture’s consulting practice and now CEO of technology company Oco, on the same panel: “Who really has the fundamental information they need to manage their supply chain effectively? Take cost-to-serve, for example. Most companies don’t have good information there. That goes for product profitability, customer profitability, etc. Most companies don’t have that.”

I agree that few if any companies really have such data. Is that level of information and more really essential to managing supply chains effectively? Yes and no. Most of us might say we are awash in data. Yet, most companies are also working to improve supply chain visibility. What I agree with is that almost everyone lacks information that can really show how the supply chain is performing – and what it can be doing to better meet customer or company needs – from a 10,000 foot view, looking holistically at all the inter-connected parts. Our supply chain information views are mostly narrow in scope - more trees than forest.

(3) One more from this panel, from Joe Andraski, formerly a supply chain executive in the consumer goods industry and now CEO of VICS:  “So often we bring in a new person into a supply chain job with little or no training and expect they can just do the job to the same level the prior person did.”

Contrast that approach, for example, with the story I heard this week during one of our Videocasts from Ron Berg, Sr. VP of Inventory Management at United Stationers. Berg described a detailed, 6-month training program that all new inventory planners go through after they take the post. In my experience, most companies are closer to the approach Andraski calls out. His point is that if that’s your way, you shouldn’t be surprised at a decline in performance.

(4) From James Morton of CapGemini, during the annual 3PL study presentation: “Reducing carbon emissions always results in lower operating costs” in manufacturing and logistics.

Is this really true? If yes, it is a very interesting proposition. The point was made that lower operating costs don’t always translate into ROI from the Green investments, which might be too high for the benefit, but I still wonder if this is really accurate, or even most always accurate. I will do some follow-up.

(5) From Tom Covelli, Sr. Director of Supply Chain Management at McDonald’s, on their decision to take control of inbound freight: “A lot of transportation decisions were being made, and they weren’t always in the best interests of McDonald’s.”

The basic message whenever you are relying on partners: “trust, but verify.” It also points out that if there is no real incentive for someone to make the optimal supply chain decision, then the chances of them doing so consistently are small.

(6) From Eric Pettersen of Continental Mills, on one of the key strategies the company used when it also decided to take control of inbound transportation for the first time: “Look at others who have done this and steal shamelessly,”

The point is simple and obvious, yet one we so often forget. Why re-invent the wheel? Whatever you are trying to accomplish, other companies and maybe lots of them, have done it before you. Most will be glad to share what they have learned. For whatever reason, there is often a personal reluctance to take this route in favor of a “we’ll figure it out ourselves” approach. This is generally foolish. Pettersen is right on.

(7) From Robert Martichenko of LeanCor, on the type of questions he asked distribution associates when analyzing performance during a project for a Zeiss Optical DC: “Why do you look tired and haggard at the end of a shift? “Because I walk 9 miles a day,” was the answer. But then you have to ask: Why do you walk nine miles a day?”

This thought process really just represents the basics of Lean and value stream mapping, but how many of us in any area of the supply chain really ask these most basic questions, especially of lower level associates, and keep asking the next one until we get to the root of the issue? If I were a DC manager, I would put that quote on a wall somewhere to remind me of the mindset needed for continuous improvement and concern for the workforce.

(8) From Fran Townsend, the keynote speaker on Day 1 and a former US government official in the area of national security: “Part of what you need to do in the supply chain is to help your company anticipate events, and understand the environment you operate in – physical, political, economic – around the globe.”

Like we need more work in the supply chain? But, her point was that with all the current concern about risk mitigation, it is critical to start “looking around corners” and trying to foresee problems before they fully emerge. The reality also is that in a global world, the supply chain often will have the front line antennas in terms of monitoring developments in areas where you source or sell products.

(9) From Day 3 keynote speaker and author Jack Uldrich: “Nano technology is going to change material science…It’s hard to think of an industry that won’t be dramatically impacted by nano technology.”

I will admit to being behind the curve here, but this was a wake-up call for all of us to understand this and other technology developments that will impact our companies and supply chains.

(10) Finally, from Art Mesher, currently CEO of Descartes Systems, during his comments after receiving the 2008 Distinguished Service Reward: “As supply chain professionals, we are now chartered with managing a global set of resources in motion. Our scope is expanding once again. People, resources, truck drivers, field services workers, merchandisers, warehouse workers. All resources in motion.”

I’ve had this conversation with Art in the past, and I think he is right – an evolving but seismic shift is occurring – we are increasingly operating in a world where the supply chain must manage goods (and services) not sitting in a distribution center but constantly in motion, requiring a whole new level of visibility systems, synchronization techniques, and (most importantly) management skill sets.

Wow. Long live the supply chain.

Which of our list of top CSCMP’s quotes caught your attention, and why? Are there any other quotes that struck you at the conference? Let us know your thoughts at the Feedback button below.

 
 
     
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