Posts Tagged ‘supply chain’

you get the supplier relationship that you deserve

How to have a good working relationship with your suppliers; it’s a topic that comes up often when talking to clients and buyers. Read more…

musing on excess over the festive season

“Everyone has lots of leftovers at Christmas” said the voice from the TV as I was washing up after dinner this evening. Read more…

if you must have rules and regulations at least make them workable

Society does need to have some rules in order to function, but at what point does regulation cease to be effective? The problem with regulation is that it needs to be enforced otherwise it is pointless and so one aspect of creating rules has to be the practicality of implementing them. Read more…


Caveat Emptor – still as true as when the Roman’s coined the phrase

Buyer Beware, or Caveat Emptor as the Romans used to put it, is still very much a truism despite all of the legislation that successive Governments, and the EU, have tried to impose to protect consumers. For business folk, who enjoy less protection with their working hats on than they do as individuals, more care has to be taken over what you are buying and who you are buying from.

Due diligence is a term often applied to this process, and when done well it is applied not just to the initial, pre-contract stage, but also over the duration of the contractual relationship. A while back we had the adulterated meat problem whereby what was being delivered was not what was expected. As this was an end product being supplied to consumers the problem was picked up through random testing as part of the consumer protection process, but apparently not by the purchasing organisation(s) concerned. I saw the other day a large sign in one store saying that all of their meat was 100% British or Irish. That may have been intended to reassure, but it could it doesn’t preclude it being 100% horse, rat, dog or any other sort of meat; caveat emptor again perhaps. Read more…

paying late doesn’t make good business sense

January 28, 2013 1 comment

News last week that one of the suppliers to a global construction giant had elected not to accept any more work from that source because of delays in getting paid should sound warning bells to over aggressive procurement functions. Whilst the news may not have told the full story it is clear that there are moves to stretch payment terms and that many of these are beyond what is reasonable under the circumstances. Read more…

supporting the front line doesn’t mean holding it up

I have been very lucky over the years in that I have been able to be part of some massive changes in the businesses for whom I have worked, from small parts in the early years through to influence and then responsibility. These days my role is usually one of influence because that is what mentors and consultants do (I can’t recall who said it, but I love the line about a consultant being like a castrated bull; he can only advise), but I do love the opportunity to get back into the trenches and do something. Read more…

what’s the connection between the Mona Lisa and an FM?

I had been looking at a copy of the Mona Lisa and then the next day a conversation with a facilities manager then started this train of thought off.

The Mona Lisa contains a number of visual gags and one of the joys of looking at it is to spot these details, but any good painting, or photograph, or view will have all sorts of details that make up the whole visual experience. Just as it is nice to stop and smell the roses from time to time it is also good to let the eyes wander over something and feast on the smaller elements that you’ll find. Even something familiar can yield new things when you stand back and look. Read more…

Do your Key Performance Indicators work, or are you locked into the past?

Input specifications used to be the norm; we would be very specific about what we wanted and how it should be made and delivered, or performed in the case of a service. I can well remember deciding to go out and start replacing the fork lift truck (FLT) fleet at a logistics operation that I had just taken over. Having talked to the vehicle buyer they produced a spec that had been used previously; it was half an inch thick, had drawings of all sorts of components that are standard on any FLT and even had a requirement for a specific pantone colour plus three pages alone on the fleet number, font, style and positioning. Read more…

Sustainability; an alternative view

Over the last few years we have seen sustainability appear as a major topic and it has become a word that people like to chuck into conversations and business proposals and to have included in policies. As with most words that get overused it tends to lose its meaning and therefore its power; ironic that, at least in this context, because if you think about what the word really means, I’m saying that it has become unsustainable. Most people today will probably associate sustainability with the environment (another word that has seen its meaning shift through wide usage), but I still like to use it to describe the practice of keeping something going.

I got onto today’s train of thought talking about charity, or more specifically charities and, as these things do, one thought led to another. The first one was around what happens to the benefit; we’re all familiar with the expression “give a man a fish” etc, but how many of these charitable efforts have actually been successful? Or are they just sustaining the problem? Like most businesses, charities have two parts; one that is selling and one that isn’t. In the case of the charity, the selling part, as far as I am describing it here, is the bit bringing in the money: It’s the people that sell the charity to donors. The other part is the one that distributes the benefit.

In the context of the discussion that I was having the issue was just how often charities suffer the same blight as other organisations in that they can grow a large and often unnecessary function in between these two parts. Sight gets lost of what the real objective of the organisation is and the bit in the middle takes on an importance and a life of its own at the expense of its parent. Just as I talked last week about a process becoming a trap if it wasn’t right, many organisations end up with more focus on the process than on doing the job.

In the world of music sustain is about how long you can keep a note going; we talk about sustain with regard, perhaps, to an organ or a guitar and we refer to the time before the note decays. And that use of the word decay is very apt in terms of today’s Musing, for what happens to organisations so often is that a form of decay sets in and spoils the connection between the two halves. The ability of the one to sustain the other begins to rot away.

So my point is that we should be looking to improve the sustainability of our own organisations, be they public, private or third sectors, by removing any areas that will be susceptible to decay or rot and to apply lean principles to sharpen the connection between the two parts. Whether you are selling products, providing services or delivering benefits, whatever your organisation’s reason for existence, the other part of the organisation should be focussed solely on supporting that activity.

Try an internet search for Trireme. You’ll find it is one of those old ships with banks of oars. Forget for a moment what it meant to be chained to one of those oars, but consider how all of those folks could get a ship that size moving at up to 8 knots. That is the power of all rowing in harmony. But if you don’t all pull together you will go nowhere. What we need to see more of is everyone making a sustained effort focused on delivering objectives and results.

Weekend Musings on Procurement – F.C. Business Magazine

Read my article on Procurement in the January issue of  F.C. Business Magazine.