Supply Chain Pain? We Have Questions – then Answers

True, lasting, and impactful supply chain transformation begins with questions. Lots of them.

So when you start your journey with Profit Point, don’t expect a hard-nosed sales pitch for the latest technology solution. Instead, be ready for some in-depth and maybe even eye-opening conversations about your business, your goals, and your most tangled knots to unravel. What are you looking to accomplish this year, and the next – and the four or five after that? What’s in your way, specifically?

We want – and we need – to learn as much as possible about every client we work with, because it’s the only way to determine the best path forward. 

What does this look like in action? Consider the client who sought us out to help address major pain points in both their customer and employee experiences: Customers were losing confidence in their ability to get the product, and while the client’s supply chain and operations teams were trying to do what they thought was right, they didn’t have the proper work processes in place to deliver. 

Tapping into the Knowledge Base

So we came in and started with questions and interviews. And not just with the supply chain people – we talked with employees across the range of internal organizations, all the way out to the commercial teams. Because while the supply chain is kind of the hub of activity, there are a lot of other stakeholders in the process. Once we had all that insight, we developed a strategy to help, to transform work process, to provide tools, and to suggest organizational changes that improved both the customer and employee experiences.

A big part of this is understanding that the principles of supply chain and transformation are applicable across a range of industries, so whether you’re in CPG or discrete materials, the basics still apply. At Profit Point, we leverage our collective years of diverse experiences – whether in manufacturing, parts, environmental sciences, or a host of other backgrounds – to help get you where you need to be.

Transformation is an Ongoing Journey

Asking questions also never stops being important to improving your supply chain.  

Another client who had installed and implemented our Profit Network™ design software was keen to use it most effectively and get the most value out of it – and they were looking at the entire business horizon, seeking benefits for both short-term tactical decisions as well as longer-term planning considerations. With those goals in mind, we paid a multi-day visit to their site and reviewed all their workflow processes for supply chain. We looked at their forecasting, their scheduling processes – both short-term and long-term – and we looked at all the meetings they were currently holding. We took an incredibly close look at everything they did, and now we had our starting point.

What we learned was that they wanted and needed to implement sales and operations Planning workflow processes, even though they didn’t fully understand all that entailed – but they knew they could get value out of it, so we did a deep dive into that as well.

Importantly, they really wanted the supply chain team to drive this. They understood the potential payoff from these activities in sales and operations planning in particular, but they didn’t have a lot of support from upper management and other areas in the organization. So a key part of how we structured our recommendations was setting them up to deliver high value early on. With these early successes, the supply chain team was empowered to  bring these results to the various meetings attended by the functional groups from all over the organization. By illustrating the kind of value these supply chain transformation efforts delivered, they built support long-term over the next few years, developing a full sales and operations planning process, and ultimately incorporating the approach into their annual business planning.

Better Questions, Better Results

And it all started with the right questions. Before we could tell them how to use Profit Network better, we had to be there; we had to understand what they were doing; we had to experience their workflow processes and feel their pain points. We had to know their people, processes, and technology. That learning gave us a genuine understanding of where they were: While they had fairly well-defined forecasting and scheduling, we saw their trouble spots arose when the time came to react to unfolding events in supply/demand balancing. They had difficulty addressing unexpected issues because they tended to be reactive, and they wanted to be more proactive in their reviews and decision making. They just needed help understanding how to get there.

Once we recognized and labeled those pain points, we took a step back and figured out how Profit Network fit into the puzzle, and how to incorporate it into the workflow and into their recurring meetings. They had all the pieces of technology available, and they knew Profit Network was the tool to help them get from Point A to Point B – but the solution was all about adapting to their specific situation, based on what we learned by asking questions and gathering information.

So: Got questions? Great – so do we! Let’s start a transformation together.

About Kim Piotrowski

Kim has extensive experience driving optimization in chemical manufacturing supply chains. She has a passion for building strong relationships at strategic and tactical levels to drive sustainable change.

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