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6 tips to hiring the right staff for your warehouse

As a business in the supply chain, you may find that your staffing needs are consistently in flux. There may be some times when you don't have a lot for a huge workforce to do, and others (such as the holiday season) when you need to bring on a lot of new employees in a short period of time. When the latter arrives, though, you should strive to make all the right hires to ensure you can operate as efficiently as possible.

How do you know when you're bringing aboard the best possible workers? The following tips should help:

1) Get referrals

The simplest way to find great new hires is to ask your current employees if they know anyone they would recommend for the job, according to Staff Management. The reason why is simple: They know what it takes to do the job, and wouldn't want to work alongside anyone who might not meet your company's standards — especially because it could risk their own reputation.

2) Start far out from when you need more staff

Generally speaking, you should have a pretty good idea of when your staffing needs tend to rise, and that means you can more effectively plan for that hiring period, Staff Management noted. The farther out you start your process from the day by which you need to have all your workers in place, the better off you will be when it comes to making sure you have not just enough people, but the right people.

Finding the right warehouse workers can be simpler.Finding the right warehouse workers can be simpler.

3) Pay better

A simple way to attract better workers is to offer stronger pay and higher-quality benefits, according to Cyzerg. That way, you will not only make sure you can attract talent on an as-needed basis, but also keep the best workers from every crop of new hires when you want to.

4) Trust your new hires with added flexibility

Along similar lines to strong salaries and benefits packages, it's also a good idea to include perks such as scheduling flexibility, Cyzerg added. In many cases, it can be perfectly acceptable for someone to come in an hour early so they can leave an hour later, or set their own schedule, as long as they're still meeting all their work requirements. Workers will value that option.

5) Make your listings more specific to what you need

If you find that your past hires haven't always worked out despite the fact that they looked good on paper, you might want to consider honing your public job listings, according to Recruit Shop. That way, there's no ambiguity about what you're looking for, and would-be hires can calibrate their interest accordingly.

6) Know the signs of potential problems

If your hiring efforts aren't getting the results you're hoping for, it may be time to reevaluate what you're looking at in candidates and why you're welcoming them aboard, Recruit Shop warned. That kind of introspection could help you understand why there may be red flags you're missing in your previous processes.


Office Amenities Shouldn’t Break the Bank

From a talent retention and recruitment standpoint many organizations have found themselves investing heavily in perks and amenities catered to employee satisfaction.  In addition, companies that rely on client facing interactions often find themselves offering similar perks to their guests and visitors. The purpose of this blog is to provide insight and guidance on how organizations can offer a strong menu of offerings to employees and guests that can boost morale while protecting your bottom line.

Breakroom Essentials 

Just about every office space in the country offers simple amenities such as coffee and water.  In fact, hot coffee and a water cooler for employees is just about as consistent as pen and paper in today’s day and age.  However, many employers simply accept this expense with very little market intelligence and true understanding of the costs and additional benefits associated with these perks.  Historically offices tend to delegate this task to HR or a front of house receptionist to simply order and restock product once inventory starts to decline.  If you’re a large-scale corporation with numerous facilities across the country this practice could be creating quite a sizable dent from an annual expense standpoint.  

The saying “power in numbers” especially holds true within this unique category.  The ability to understand the total value of these small incremental purchases, location-by-location within your company portfolio over the course of a full calendar year can be staggering once fully realized.  More often than not this category is simply treated as a sunken cost in many organizations, when in all actuality there is a lot of flexibility and cost savings opportunity once your purchasing power is realized and out to bid with suitable providers.

When it comes to identifying suitable providers to bid on this opportunity the first key metric to understand is the coverage area and range required to service this category.  The end goal is to hopefully identify a single source capable of providing competitive pricing while also servicing and delivering to your entire portfolio.  Utilizing one supplier capable of satisfying this need enables a streamlined category management and communication process while also opening the door for product standardization company-wide for even greater discounts.

Product consolidation is the next critical piece when it comes to successfully managing this category.  Historically product selection is rogue across the board with brand preferences varying by location.  Leveraging your total annual spend within a select group of standardized products across your entire portfolio will immediately establish strong discounts when compared to the unit price you were originally acquiring similar products at.

Supplier Consolidation Leading to Expansion of Amenities 

If your organization successfully consolidates this category to one awarded supplier, a world of additional value add opportunities and additional perks will be made available to your employees.  In particular, national providers such as Aramark or Sodexo may offer additional services to high volume locations with amenities such as cafes staffed with baristas capable of providing beverages and fresh food options.  

If properly negotiated and discussed with your national provider at the time of contracting, you may be to obtain these perks at no additional cost to your company which would establish a win-win for all parties involved.  Your awarded national provider would establish a small revenue stream within your organization while employees have the added perk of a full-service café just steps from their desk.  This drastically improved food and beverage service offering helps instill strong morale for employees while also establishing greater productivity with food and beverage options housed inside your facility.


In summary, food and beverage amenities provided to your employees are a crucial yet often overlooked expense within many organizations.  If this category is properly managed and effectively consolidated the reward of a strong culture and boost in employee morale can be realized while also managing to obtain significant cost savings.


 

Throughout the Coronavirus pandemic, there have been many items that have gone through a shortage.  The initial items that were difficult to come by were paper goods like toilet paper and cleaning products such as Lysol.  As time has progressed, these hot commodity items have changed.  With schools resuming, whether it be in person, online, or a hybrid of both, laptops and tablets are the latest items that are nearly impossible to come by.  School districts all over the United States, as well as other countries are experiencing shortages of these devices.

 

Lenovo, HP, and Dell have told school districts they have a shortage of about five million laptops.  The delays started in the spring and have only intensified with the continued demand.  Schools that have placed orders months ago have either received part of their orders or are still waiting for their orders to be fulfilled.  Many schools had delivery dates prior to the start of the school year, however their delivery dates keep getting pushed back without a definite date of arrival.  The Denver Public Schools district ordered 12,500 Chromebooks back in April and May and are still waiting on the delivery on these devices.  The state of California noted that their school districts are waiting on roughly 300,000 computers and schools in Alabama are waiting on 33,000 computers.  With the shortage continuing and school back in session, many districts are scrambling to fill the gaps.

 

A school district in Buffalo, NY is waiting on the delivery on 10,000 iPads.  To cope with the devices not being delivered, teachers are printing packets for the students who do not have access to a computer or tablet.  They are doing this with the hopes that students without a device can keep up with students who do have a device.  In Duval, Florida teachers are noticing a gap between students who have access to a device and those that do not.  Teachers whose students lack access to a device and are doing a hybrid of learning, are failing classes due to their inability to log on on days they are remote learning. 

 

In Newport Connecticut, the director of technology at one of their schools said how they just ran out of devices.  The school developed a five-year plan in which it would be able to provide all their students with technological devices.  Once Covid-19 hit, they had to condense this five-year plan into a five month plan.  Although the school ordered about 22,000 Chromebooks, they still get about 60-100 requests for devices a day. 

 

The shift towards remote learning due to Covid-19 has had a large impact on technological devices.  The demand is skyrocketing and the access to parts and devices is declining.  While schools are waiting on the delivery of their shipments, they have organized laptop and tablet donations.  They have also asked students who received a device from the school to return it if they have a household or personal device they can use for school.  The districts are then redistributing these devices to students who do not have access to one.  As time progresses, schools hope to overcome this obstacle and be able to give each student their own device, closing the technological and academic gap.


While the novel coronavirus is still a problem across the U.S. — and one that's not likely to go away anytime soon — some aspects of the business world are returning to normal slowly but surely. Based on recent industry data, that certainly includes the logistics industry. After a definitive fallow period around the start of the outbreak nationwide, demand for warehousing space is once again surging, portending big things for the sector in the months and years ahead.


A big part of the reason for this, of course, is more people are staying home and thus ordering from online merchants who need more space to meet demand, according to The Financial Times. The e-commerce titan Amazon has, in recent months, signed leases for some 35 million square feet of additional warehouses in locations from coast to coast, and that seems to be a sign of the times.

Consumer habits have shifted — perhaps permanently — as a result of the lockdowns, such that it's expected online sales in the U.S. will approach $20 billion annually within the next few years, the report said. As such, some industry estimates show that demand for warehousing space will hit 333 million square feet by the end of 2022.

Warehousing space is in increasingly high demand nationwide.Warehousing space is in increasingly high demand nationwide.

What's at stake?
The fact of the matter is that years-long trends are converging for the industry at a time when the space to actually fulfill needs may be somewhat limited, according to Business Insider. Because of how companies have increasingly offered low-cost or free shipping with quick turnaround times, the need for additional space closer to population centers is on the rise. Moreover, just-in-time inventory strategies have become common, but that leaves companies vulnerable to unexpected shifts in demand and the like.

Because many logistics firms have to effectively be all things to all people in today's environment, they require more space than ever — as much as three times more than retailers, the report said. However, it's worth noting that retailers are also trying to get into the warehousing game at a higher rate these days; shutdowns and slowdowns have forced them to close brick-and-mortar locations, but these companies largely still exist and have loyal customer bases. As such, they need their own warehouses to keep up with demand.

Rising costs
As with anything else in business, when demand for something rises, so too do prices, and that's certainly been observed in the world of industrial real estate, according to Globe St. Indeed, rents for such spaces in the second quarter set new records in just about every major market nationwide as companies moved to claim space at levels comparable to pre-pandemic rates. Demand is growing so quickly that some companies may look to convert large retail spaces into warehouses.

With all this in mind, it's critical for any logistics manager to at least consider what their companies' growth strategy will look like in both the short and long term. Knowing far in advance how you will need to evolve to continually meet your goals will help you craft the perfect roadmap to do so.


Many companies in the supply chain have made steps to modernize some aspects of their operations in recent years, but in a lot of ways, they may still be doing the same basic things they did years ago. For that reason, purchasing managers in particular may want to examine their internal procurement processes and see if there are any changes they can make to modernize their efforts. Doing so could increase efficiency and, in the long run, save enough money to provide a complete return on investment.

The first thing purchasing managers need to understand about this issue is that even if they aren't making efforts to modernize their processes in some way, the competition almost certainly is, according to VNDLY. Typically, such efforts will start with adoption of a new, modern software platform that allows them to track and manage things like inventory, shipments and more on an ongoing basis, in as close to real time as possible. Many organizations currently use legacy software that has been customized time and again to meet their companies' needs, but now handle so much data that the programs have become unwieldy and unreliable.

The future is now for your procurement department.The future is now for your procurement department.

However, with modern operations, data in one department will typically be less siloed-off from the rest of the company, and it becomes easier for purchasing managers to monitor needs based on budget and operational requirements, the report said. That means all potential stakeholders need to have a say in figuring out what course modernization will take.

What's at stake
Companies that want to make sure they can do more to smooth all their processes and both internal and external communications would be wise to get buy-in from their supply chain partners, but that's not always easy, according to PYMNTS. The obvious advantages of high-tech adoption is that it speeds every aspect of procurement, but you also need to be able to complete the financial aspects of sales with an all-digital approach as well.

As many as 3 in 5 companies specializing in business-to-business transactions don't even have a website of their own, so the idea of everyone simultaneously becoming a high-tech, engaged partner is likely far-fetched (at least initially), the report said. But if even a small number of organizations can demonstrate the value of adoption, the pressure to adopt may build to a critical mass.

How high-tech is too-high-tech?
Given the slow build toward adoption of even basic modern software, going well beyond your current capabilities may not seem to be in the cards any time soon. However, as the blockchain becomes a big point of focus, interest in such technology may be on the rise, according to a recent Deloitte survey. Across the U.S., more than 3 in 5 companies say they plan to make at least $1 million in investments toward blockchain adoption over the next 12 years, potentially giving them even more insight into their purchasing strategies and shipping networks.

Of course, that kind of involvement isn't for everyone and it's important for your business to strategize carefully about whatever steps you take toward a more modern procurement process.


While things are starting to shift back to the "old normal" in some parts of the U.S., it's more than fair to say that the novel coronavirus pandemic fundamentally altered consumers' shopping habits. Although companies have been trending toward more online ordering in recent years to begin with, the lockdowns nationwide seem to have only accelerated the preference to shy away from brick-and-mortar stores.

That, in turn, raises an interesting question for companies in the logistics sector: Should they prioritize their direct-to-consumer shipping efforts over their B2B side? A recent survey retail industry survey from enVista paints the picture nicely, according to DC Velocity. About 1 in 3 retailers say they are trying to strike a better balance between in-store shopping and B2C e-commerce demand, and about the same number say they want to improve planning and forecasting for demand, or improve efficiency overall.

Going B2C would be a big shift for many businesses, but a potentially lucrative one.Going B2C would be a big shift for many businesses, but a potentially lucrative one.

Along similar lines, a previous enVista survey found that about two-thirds of consumers want improved visibility into inventory online, and nearly as many wanted to have the ability to buy items from anywhere and ship them anywhere, the report said. Fewer than half of respondents felt it was important to be able to pick up an online order from a physical location.

Temporary or permanent?
One thing any business has to consider under the current conditions is whether the changes they make to their operations will only last as long as the lockdowns do, or whether some or all of those new processes will be permanently incorporated into how they do business, according to Supply Chain Brain. There may be plenty of things your company can adopt — such as machine learning and artificial intelligence to improve internal processes — that would have plenty of practical applications after the pandemic is over, but others — such as increased staffing levels — that might not be as necessary.

Less broadly, among the big things companies may have to consider at this time is whether shipping smaller quantities of your items to individuals, rather than huge orders to single entities, is feasible in the long run, the report said. There may be plenty of avenues to make this possible, and you will need to investigate them to determine whether a B2C approach works for your unique business.

Getting it done
In many cases, companies may be able to complete B2C shipping at scale, but it will require fundamental rethinking of not just their strategies, but their entire offerings, according to enVista. For instance, some companies that specialized in B2B have begun offering smaller-batch products with far less wiggle room for changing or customizing orders, meaning they don't have to spend time in the warehouse picking and packing every order just-so, and can still seamlessly send a greater number of packages to more people.

Of course, every company is different and their paths to building a parallel B2C operation will be unique. But what remains a common issue is that everyone will have to drill down and strategize carefully before rolling out any changes to their offerings.


For many companies in the logistics field, the industry requires them to have a broad and diversified supply chain to procure everything they need to operate. However, especially in a post-coronavirus world, that's often easier said than done, and many businesses are trying to find new strategies to make sure purchasing remains an easy process.

While you aren't likely to suffer a once-in-a-century disruption again any time soon, the following steps should help your company build a more reliable, resilient supply chain:



1) Find new partners

Perhaps the easiest way to make sure your supply chain can withstand any disruption, regardless of size, is to diversify it so that you can rely on more suppliers when problems arise, according to Strategic Sourceror. Simply knowing that you can easily pivot from one partner to another when and if you need to makes it much simpler to proceed with whatever your current plans may be.

2) Keep waste to a minimum

The name of the game is efficiency in just about any business, but in the supply chain, it should be your entire organization's watch word, Strategic Sourceror advised. The more you can do to ensure every process you have in place runs smoothly and at the lowest cost possible, the better off you will be in both good and turbulent times.

It's critical to understand every aspect of your supply chain.It's critical to understand every aspect of your supply chain.

3) Make sure you keep up compliance

Even as you partner with suppliers — potentially in a number of different countries — you need to make sure that all appropriate rules and regulations are being followed to the letter, according to G2. Finding more areas of efficiency does not mean you should cut corners, and putting at least one or two people in charge of compliance (including hiring a separate compliance officer) is always a good idea to ensure all aspects of what you do are held in check.

4) Know your risk factors

At the same time you are trying to be cognizant of the ins and outs of regulatory controls, you also need to make sure you have a holistic picture of your supply chain and can consistently identify emergent issues that might knock you off course, G2 said. When you are able to use data and consistent communication with your partners to recognize problematic patterns before they even arise, you'll be able to weather any storm.

5) Strategize as far in advance as you can

Along similar lines to recognizing issues in advance, you should also map out your purchasing strategies weeks or months before you actually take any action, so that you can tweak what you need to, as necessary, according to IndustryWeek. That way, you always have your eyes on the prize and won't be deterred unless absolutely necessary.

6) Work on your contingency plans

With that having been said, the coronavirus pandemic certainly highlighted that you can't plan for every eventuality, IndustryWeek added. Instead, you should have multiple plans in place that account for as many potential hurdles as you can think of, so that you always have a fallback plan when normal procurement strategies aren't feasible.

Each week, we will go into details on how to address project and change management now to create a resilient and robust organization for tomorrow.

If you missed last week’s blog on Employee Training, you can check it out here.

This week, we will look at the 6th and final way a company can use downtime to impact the greater good of the organization and position themselves to be a better, stronger company when the work picks back up.

Optimize, Organize, and Design

When companies expand over time, it’s easy to just add on piecemeal to handle that growth. Those adjustments may work in the moment but as growth continues and operations begin to change or shift, how many times are those added processes and procedures revisited? An organization may not want to look at ways to become more efficient or effective because what they have in place still works. Those companies are in jeopardy of quickly falling behind the competition. However, if a growing company is willing to peel back the layers of the onion periodically and look at ways to optimize, organize, and design their entire operation as growth occurs, it becomes much easier to make adjustments along the way.

Specific Example: Reorganize the Warehouse

Deciding how to design a warehouse layout is a step of vital importance—it can make or break the productivity, safety, and overall success of a warehouse. The layout of your warehouse needs to maximize available space, allow for limited travel time, provide easy access to product, and create a safe work environment. While it can be challenging to design a layout that fits all needs, proper analysis of business objectives and practices, as well as a dedication to safety and a cultivation of productive procedures, can help you come up with a design that is optimal for success.

From receiving to storing to shipping, the layout and flow of your warehouse will determine in large part how well your business operates.

Following are 5 warehouse organization tips to get your warehouse in order and improve the speed and efficiency of your employees:

1. Re-evaluate your warehouse layout design

  • Keep the following design elements in mind when planning (or updating) your warehouse layout:
  • Flow – meaning the uninterrupted movement of materials, people, and traffic within your building
  • Accessibility – meaning every product and all products on pallets should be accessible by everyone, usually without the need to move one product to get to another
  • Space – meaning the maximum warehouse space you can afford, taking into consideration storage, stock, offices, working areas, empty pallet storage, battery charging, etc.

2. Use warehouse racking organization

Warehouse racking organization is a method of storing your inventory vertically instead of horizontally, such as on pallet racks. This is a cost-effective way to maximize your warehouse space if you carry a lot of inventory or if you have a small warehouse and can’t afford to buy more space.

3. Use ABC Analysis to set up warehouse inventory

ABC Analysis of inventory is a method of sorting your inventory into three categories according to how well they sell and how much they cost to hold:

  • A-Items – best-selling items that don’t take up all your warehouse space or cost
  • B-Items – mid-range items that sell regularly but may cost more than A-items to hold
  • C-Items – the rest of your inventory that makes up the bulk of your inventory costs while contributing the least to your bottom line

4. Label warehouse inventory

Your employees shouldn’t have to rely on memory when searching for items in your warehouse. Every SKU in your inventory should be clearly labeled for easy identification.

Keep your labeling consistent for every item (i.e., always label the bottom right corner of boxes) and include all the necessary information on every label, such as:

  • Product name
  • SKU
  • Color
  • Size
  • Date

5. Make receiving inventory easy

Receiving inventory effectively is one of the key warehouse management tips because it sets the tone for the rest of your warehouse and inventory processes.

Here are a few ways you can improve inventory receiving:

  • Optimize your receiving space by providing the proper tools and enough space to allow your employees to sort and store incoming inventory.
  • Keep your receiving space clean and organized by removing clutter and putting every tool away after using it.
  • Track inventory in real-time by implementing a perpetual inventory system, in order to reduce miscounts, missing inventory, and incorrect shipments.
  • Monitor quality control by hiring a quality control manager to watch for mistakes, point out problematic procedures, and reduce the instances of inventory damage.
  • Unload received inventory quickly and safely by using the appropriate machines (i.e., forklifts and conveyor belts) and following clear safety procedures.
  • Avoid shipping the wrong items to your customers by verifying the goods received using metrics, such as the description of goods, product code, batch tracking number, etc.

A well-run and well-organized warehouse is a critical function within a company’s sourcing and procurement management efforts. While there is a direct relationship between procurement and supply chain management, the two functions are not interchangeable.

Procurement is the process of getting the goods and materials your company needs, while supply chain management is the process of transforming those goods into products and distributing them to customers as efficiently as possible. Warehouse operations are often where these two practices cross paths, so this pivotal business operation requires the most efficient and well-run systems.

Series Conclusion

It’s easy to become complacent in the way your company does business. If the company is turning a profit, employees are perceived to be happy, and suppliers and clients are limited in their complaints, then why spend the time to self-evaluate and make potentially disruptive changes? Times will change. Industry will change. The world will change. Preparing your company to have the structure in place to withstand economic downturns or extreme cases like global pandemics will allow for a quicker rebound when those crises are over. More importantly, a company’s ability to find ways to improve and evolve, no matter what the global economy indicates, will be a critical measure for your company’s future.

If you would like to download a free white paper from the Corcentric website where all 6 parts of this series of blogs are organized into one single document, please visit our library here.

When the coronavirus first swept through China around the start of 2020, it shuttered many factories and shipping facilities in the Far East and, in many cases, crippled U.S. companies' supply chains. That led those businesses to reconsider many things about how they operate, including whether they should rely on a global supply chain at all. Now, more businesses are facing a kind of existential question: When the pandemic comes to an end, will we ever go back to previous norms?

The idea of having a global supply chain — which often requires interaction with potentially large numbers of partners to get everything you order from Points A and B to C, D, E and more — might now seem like a literal logistical nightmare. According to Supply Chain Digital, it's not out of the question to revert to old ways, and many companies already have, but the level of control at every step of the supply chain may need to increase dramatically.

It always helps to have backup plans.It always helps to have backup plans.

First things first, that will require digitization and automation of many processes that used to be handled manually, so that it's easier to share information between partners and track items as they cross borders and oceans, the report said. That also requires increased cooperation and different sourcing options, so that if partners in one part of the world cannot hold up their end of the bargain, for whatever reason, your business always has something to fall back on.

Plan for everything
While the novel coronavirus was a once-in-a-century event that provided a major shock to the system, there are all sorts of difficulties (big and small) that can crop up in even the simplest of processes, and those need to be accounted for, according to The Hackett Group. Together with your partners, as well as within your own organization, you need to sit down and think of all the potential contingencies that could arise over the course of years, and how you will respond if those incidents arise.

You will also need to understand the areas that will be your signals that something has gone awry in the first place, the report said. It's one thing to know that a problem has arisen; it's quite another to be able to figure out why, and revert to a Plan B as early as you possibly can.

Never settle
Finally, it's worth remembering that your supply chain (and the world) is ever-changing and even contingencies that have worked in the past might not cut the mustard when a new situation arises, according to Supply Chain Digest. For that reason, your approach needs to be more diversified — such as with regionalization — so that if you lose some options for a period of time, you always have somewhere else to pivot. And more to the point, you should have those contingencies tested as a just-in-case so you know they're as reliable as possible.

The more you can do to take a holistic look at how your supply chain operates and how your relationships with partners affect things, the better off your company will be when it comes to weathering any storm.


Businesses in the logistics sector are always looking for a way they can improve the efficiency of their operations by even fractions of a percentage point, so it's no surprise that they're always searching for new avenues to evaluate themselves. For many, that means the next few years will see them dive headlong into the high-tech world of data analysis, if they haven't done so already, and those investments may take a number of different forms.

For instance, nearly three-quarters of logistics firms say asset tracking and location technology, as well as wireless connection areas, are going to be vital to their companies within the next three to five years, according to a recent global industry survey from Ericsson. At the same time, roughly two-thirds said the same about adopting the blockchain, artificial intelligence, and robotic process automation.

AI holds a lot of promise in the logistics industry.

Fortunately, it seems that this is likely to become easier within the proscribed timeframe largely because mobile service providers are rolling out high-speed 5G technology that enables faster and more accessible communication between entities, the report said.

"5G will definitely help," Aljosja Beije, logistics and technology lead at a blockchain tech firm, told Ericsson. "It will be a big leap forward compared to what we can do today with 4G. It will enable us to integrate and coordinate devices so that data can flow throughout the supply chain."

Why data helps
When companies have a better handle on the information that powers their decision-making, a lot of those issues are taken out of humans' hands, according to Tank Transport. Put another way, when artificial intelligence systems have a broad array of data flowing into them, humans have to make fewer decisions manually, freeing them up to focus on other tasks that aren't as easily automated.

That doesn't mean the decisions made by an AI system don't have to be monitored, or that the platforms are foolproof — far from it, the report said. However, with machine learning, these decisions are getting better all the time, and companies just need to make sure the proper flow of information continues apace.

Speeding the supply chain
Especially when you are sharing data with your various partners in the supply chain, AI platforms can be used to increase efficiency in a number of ways, according to Material Handling & Logistics. Not only can these systems deal with tasks like ordering and monitoring; they may also be able to help companies adjust their labor distribution to match conditions, ensure on-time delivery and more.

The more data these platforms have available to them — including legacy documents such as Excel spreadsheets — the more powerful their decision-making becomes, the report said.

For all these reasons and more, companies that have yet to fully invest in data tracking and AI may want to start laying the groundwork in the near future. Doing so will help you stay on the cutting edge of your industry or, at the very least, keep you from falling behind your competitors.

 

Each week, we will go into details on how to address project and change management now to create a resilient and robust organization for tomorrow.

If you missed last week’s blog on Introducing Automation, you can check it out here.

This week, we will look at the 5th of 6 ways a company can use downtime to impact the greater good of the organization and position themselves to be a better, stronger company when the work picks back up.

Employee Training

When client or customer work slows, internal training can be a great way to keep employees engaged in their job and company. A key piece to internal training is gaining buy-in from employees. Some are willing to learn as much as possible, others will look at it as a chore or as something unnecessary for their job. Communication is crucial to convey the positive attributes of internal training and how an employee’s participation in the training will benefit their career path within the organization.

  • Key benefits of internal training
  • Improved employee performance
  • Improved employee satisfaction and morale
  • Addressing weaknesses
  • Increased productivity and adherence to quality standards
  • Increased innovation in new strategies and products
  • Reduced employee turnover
  • Enhanced company reputation and profile

When it comes to training, companies can think outside the box by promoting expanded skill sets and convenient delivery systems. Data analytics, new technology, presentation skills, public speaking, negotiations, crisis management, other company operations, etc., are all concentrations that increase the value of the employee.

In terms of delivery of training, there are multiple innovative methods that can keep employees engaged:

  • eLearning
  • Virtual instructor-led classroom
  • Webinar
  • Job aids
  • Infographics

Specific Example: Project Management Training

Project management training can help bring into focus the larger picture of why a company does what it does. It can help to define all the complexities that go into a project and allow employees to better understand the arc of decision making.

Project management training courses provide competitive advantage for the company and the employee, including the development and success of project goals; advanced industry education; effective implementation of essential phases throughout the project’s entirety; and a realistic defining of project duration and budget. Successful development and delivery of training programs also facilitate a structured approach to project delivery and work packages, as well as effective management of changes in project objectives and scope.

Employees are able to apply newly gained knowledge to refresh company policies and procedures around clients, projects, goals, processes, etc. It’s a win-win for the organization and its people.

Additionally, there are opportunities to then dive deeper into the broader scope of project management and how its many facets can be defined for the organization. For example, distinguishing the difference between project management and change management can help to foster integration between the two.

Although project management and change management disciplines are often viewed as separate and unequal components, assimilation between the two is imperative for project success An important first step is to understand the roles of both the project manager and the change manager and where their responsibilities converge and, at times, collide.

  • According to the Project Management Institute (PMI), a project manager is accountable for the success or failure of a project. They are responsible for the planning, execution, and close of the project. Further, the project manager must manage teams, ensure progress, and motivate project team members. It’s up to the project manager to make sure that project goals are in alignment with key stakeholders.
  • According to Prosci, a change manager facilitates the desired outcome of projects/change initiatives by working with employees. This person focuses on meeting objectives on time and on budget by increasing employee adoption and usage, which could include changes to business processes, systems and technology, job roles, and organizational structures.

Integrated approach ensures project benefits are fully realized by utilizing the strengths of both project management and change management disciplines, including:

  • Enhanced employee and leader engagement
  • Increased sustainability of the change enterprise-wide
  • Realization of your people ROI for the project
  • Avoidance of change saturation across an enterprise
  • Measurement of an organization’s change tolerance

An organization requires strong project management and change management to reinvent and grow. Both are crucial for the success of an organization. Without strong project management, organizations will not be able to release new products in the market nor bring about internal changes. Without strong change management, organizations cannot survive in the ever-changing competitive business world.

Please check back next week for a look at part 6 of this series where we will discuss how to ‘Optimize, Organize, and Design’.


The roles and functions of Procurement have evolved over the decades, and it is hard to overstate the value of analytics has played in this evolution. We have seen a shift from spreadsheet-driven, manual spend analysis to automated, predictive and prescriptive data analytics. While it may seem like analytics can grant Procurement professionals a magical crystal ball, be wary of relying too heavily on data analytics, especially when those data sources are less than reliable. Let’s take a look at the benefits and pitfalls of analytics within the Procurement function.

AI-driven and automated tools have proven crucial for almost everyone within Procurement. From Category Managers applying predictive analytics to the AP team measuring cycle times to assisting strategic sourcing lock in better payment terms and discounts, when used properly analytics can build trust and confidence within your Procurement organization. But, let’s consider the foundation for predictive and prescriptive analytic models: data sets from multiple sources. How accurate is the data you are plugging into your cloud-enabled or platform-driven analytics tool? How do you verify the validity and authenticity of the data sets? It is no surprise that bad data can lead to bad decision making. The purpose of these analytical models is to guide our decision making, and if the data we are using isn’t accurate or outdated, the results certainly will vary. Be sure you are vetting and validating your data before you begin to make decisions regarding large contracts or strategic initiatives. This may mean frequent audits or higher accountability on those inputting your data. Save yourself the frustration and hassle associated with “bad data.”

Moreover, if your team is inundated with data or analytic models, you potentially may be causing more harm than good. The same way consumers may feel overwhelmed in a super-store, so might the Category Manager with a variety of dashboard views and filters. Establish three or four key metrics you wish to report out on and use these small sets to guide thinking or decision making before opening to flood gates. If cycle time is important to your organization, start by measuring your average contract lifecycle or average sourcing event duration to help plan any corrective action. But, spending time digging through different filters and dashboard views isn’t productive and will likely cause resistance from those providing the reporting. Also, understand how different metrics may overlap or work with one another. For example, forecasting and benchmarking are separate metrics you can report on, both help build your market intelligence and equip your team with the tools to be trusted consultative advisors for stakeholders.

While predictive analytics can provide a Procurement team with valuable insights, be careful not to rely too heavily on these insights and mistake predictive for prescriptive models. If you trust your data, then your analytics and reporting capabilities influence strategic decisions, but if you are unsure of the validity of your data sets then it is time to revisit where and how you capture your data – manual inputs, ERP systems, source-to-pay platforms, etc. Once you are confident you are capturing and vetting all data sets, start small with key metrics and reports before applying any overly corrective actions. These strategic steps can help make the most out of your analytics and reports while avoiding any over-reliance on easy-to-use reporting features.