Wednesday, 10 August 2022

CIPS Strategic Transformation - online - 4/5th October 2022

 I shall be running the CIPS online open training course on Strategic Transformation on 4th and 5th October 2022.  Full details are here.

We are in, to say the least, "interesting times".  And appropriately as well as a lot of tactical activity businesses are trying to re-evaluate their strategic choices.  The disruption of the past few years has lead most people to realise that business as usual refers to a past state of affairs that we are unlikely to revert to.

As an example, Working From Home (WFH) was a rarity and has now become the "new normal".  Of course, historically most people worked from home - factories and offices were new inventions a couple of hundred years ago.  But things changed, and change again, and while sticking with the previous strategy might be the right approach we should review it and check.

Personally, the move to online training has made me re-think how I work.

Hope to see you there, and hear your thoughts as well as discuss how to set and revise appropriate strategies for the future.

Tuesday, 9 August 2022

Supply Chain disruption

 Brilliant article in the FT about the supply chain disruptions in the ICT chip manufacturing process.

Sadly, with no easy answers - apart from national (or even regional) self-reliance is not going to work.

Which many politicians will not want to hear (in many countries).

Quite a few business leaders seem very reluctant to hear that things are (necessarily) complicated and will remain so.  In particular in my old stomping ground (the chemicals industry) people find it difficult to process that the usual economic rules do not always apply.  Just because something is profitable and in demand does not mean that competitors will come into the market.  If a profitable product ceases production (e.g. as a result of an industrial incident) it does not follow that other businesses will make it (or that the original manufacturer will build a replacement plant).  There are complexities about risk, availability, production processes, regulations etc. that all need to be understood.  But if you are a customer you are likely to think "well why aren't they doing it?".

Good procurement personnel need to know and understand these complexities (obviously not at granular detail) in order to fully understand the supply chain risks.

In the pre-covid and pre-Brexit times when things were working smoothly, Lean supply chains seemed to be the answer.  At the moment we are all considering Resilient supply chains.  But nothing is ever quite simple, and neither approach is simply good or bad.

Interesting times ahead

Monday, 8 August 2022

IChemE: What Engineers need to know about Contracts

The perennially popular course on what Engineers need to know about contracts (- but don't get taught on their Chem Eng courses, is my suggestion for a subtitle) is being run online on 28th and 30th November 2022.  

Full details are here.

This is two half days on separate days, and assumes no previous knowledge or understanding of contracts or the law.  In fact that is rather the point.  Starts 10am UK time, finishes at 1pm UK time each day.

The course is based on the contract law of England and Wales, but discusses other legal systems and so is (hopefully) more generally applicable around the world.

Hope to see you thereOr at your place.  We have run this both online and the  traditional in person two full day course for clients recently, and the team at IChemE are always happy to arrange to do so for your organisation.  

Friday, 5 August 2022

Inflation and hard times

 Well, if you don't value your Procurement team now, when will you?

And of course your sales team, operational team and in fact everyone in your business.  But just at the moment your Procurement team are really key.

I'm not terribly good at noticing prices in shops (which tells you that I earn enough money to not be worried about every single penny, unlike too many other people).  But even I have noticed prices going up.  And not just by the nominal 10% or so that is the current inflation rate.

MacDonald's have increased the price of their cheeseburger.  But not by 10% but by 20% (from 99p to 119p).  And if you look around the supermarkets you will see they are far from alone.  Lots of products have broken past the psychological £1 barrier, and gone up to £1.20 or more.

Now this may well reflect real changes in supply conditions and the cost of materials.  I don't know.

But what I do know is that we complain more or less the same about a 20p rise as we do a 15p rise, or a 10p rise.

So sensible sales teams will take the approach that, having had prices held back for years by relatively low inflation, and with customers all expecting there will be inflationary increases, the thing to do is go large!

Why have lots of incremental, annoying price rises?  Go for one big one, and hope to get ahead of the game a bit and increase profits in the process.  If inflation is 10%, why not go for 20%.  Or 30%?  If you can't put up prices now, when can you?

And this is where your procurement team comes in.

We know that for manufactured goods the cost of materials is usually about half the overall cost.  So, if inflation is 10%, we should expect to see a 5% rise not 10%.  After all wages have not yet increased by much, so not all costs have gone up.

Of course, industrial prices are rising even faster than domestic prices (15%+) and I am not suggesting that suppliers can hold down prices for ever.

But as a buyer we should be testing and checking.  Understanding our supplier's position, but also expecting that prices will fall equally quickly rather than being a new baseline.  That prices have increased an appropriate amount, rather than more than is necessary.  Making sure suppliers know we are happy to have monthly price negotiations rather than one big rise.  Maybe some kind of quarterly or annual rebalancing as prices vary.  This is the time when we show our value to organisations.

And of course your sales team should be putting up prices.  Yes, that is how inflation rises. But eroding profit margins are not a good idea either.

Yes this does mean that PAWA Consulting fees will be going up to.  Book now to avoid the rush (as they say).