Catching up again as usual. We have really been flooded of late with Feedback. As you may know, most Feedback is now posted at the bottom of each article or column on our site. On the SCDigest home page, we also have a link to the recent stories generating the most Feedback.
Our Feedback of the Week is from Aaron McHale, who liked our piece on Interesting Inventory Times. Our friend Dr. Ed Marien also briefly commented, noting his approach to measuring inventory.
We also generated some Feedback from Materials Handling Editor Cliff Holste’s piece on In Tough Economic Times Does it Make Sense to Hire a Material Handling Consultant?, which you will find below.
Feedback of the Week – On Interesting Inventory Times:
You hit the nail on the head again here.
These are indeed interesting times, and the sea change in how to manage the trade-offs between inventory, service and logistics that has happened in the last six months is simply unprecedented. What “fun” times for supply chain managers.
It is hard for all of us I think to keep up.
It is equally interesting how little real inventory progress has been made across most industry segments. They seem to bob around in a narrow range every year.
So have we simply hit a wall that is not going to be broken? Or do we need to rethink the whole paradigm in some way to get to a new curve?
It is strange, really, that there isn’t more talk about this. If we look at these same numbers for 2015, will they still be pretty much the same?
My guess is Yes.
Director of Supply Chain
More On Interesting Inventory Times:
Good observations on Inventories. I like to use the Cash-Cash Cycle in measuring Days and Dollars committed to Inventories and in how a firm is managing its cash flow with suppliers and customers.
Dr. Ed Marien
Marien & Associates, LLC
DIO seems to be a good term to use for an average.
Another term that I have seen is coverage. The coverage denotes the number of period demands that can be completely serviced from a given stock on hand.
KOH Niak Wu, Dr.
Singapore Institute of Manufacturing Technology
On Hiring Consultants:
My complementary thoughts on this article are as below
1. Before hiring a consultant, the organization must identify the area where improvement is expected, i.e., goal and scope. Setting of the direction of consultant is important, e.g., if the problem is identified as improving productivity during lean time, the focus for solution is limited to down turn of the business.
2. Many a times, a consultant just facilitates discussion and structured thinking among different stake holders to bring out a solution. No harm in it and don’t undervalue it. One should focus on solution and learning.
3. All of us calls for experienced and qualified consultants and make assessment based on our understanding of business and solutions.
This has two pitfalls:
Not necessarily all problems need such a qualified and experienced consultant. Visiting a renowned and very senior surgeon for a small wound may take a line of treatment like brain surgery and cost you hell. Hence, apply the due trade-off between the complexity of the problem and benefit expected vis-à-vis the consultant’s profile.
Unless our assessment is on a different plain, we happen to bring in a consultant having matching thoughts and experience. We must remember that we couldn’t find a solution or need a better solution, thus a consultant must bring in new thoughts, techniques and direction.
Ranjan Prasad Singh
Enterprise System Solutions (P) Ltd.
As a 'single shingle' shop, I appreciate the division that makes about the size of the project and the size of the consulting firm.
But I have seen examples in my career where a single consultant was able to manage a very large project because of the network of professionals that he could bring to the project.
In some case, the 'team' members were other 'solo' artists that had the skill and talent to collaborate into the team. So, even if the client has a huge project, don't discount the solo artist that may have the right Rolodex to turn to.
The part about candor is vital. I have seen some other postings about successful consultation engagements that had at the top of the list 'Check your EGO at the door.'
I remember a few engagements when I was a client where I did not check my ego and the project suffered for it. I also remember engagements where ego was not in play, and things went far.
The candor has to be bidirectional. The client has to give the consultant feedback too. This is so important that I make it a point to specifically speak to the potential client about the need for candor AND I expect the client to give me feedback on how he sees the engagement going.
I even take it one step further and have a one paragraph section in my proposal/agreement that spells out how candid bidirectional feedback is expected and encouraged. If that talk makes the prospective client uncomfortable, I will walk away from the deal because it will be filled with problems.
I have the experience of having been on both sides of the desk in my career as a client and as a consultant, so I work hard to not do what was done to me by 'bad' consultants. When I was on the client side, I always checked out the consultant. I now encourage each potential client to speak to any of my current or past clients, to talk to equipment suppliers, contractors, carriers, or peers.
Spend time talking to the past clients. What do they say about the consultant? Are they using that consultant again? Would they use that consultant again? Even if they would use that consultant again, what did the consultant do that the client did not like. You will learn so much about the technical, and the personal skills of the consultant.
David K. Schneider
David K Schneider & Company, LLC