Supply Chain Management

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Embrace Strategy, Champion the Death of the Mindless To-Do List

By Pete Kovac November 1, 2016 by Kelly Kuhlman

by Pete Kovac

“Can you pick up milk, eggs, ham, and cheese from your way home from work, please?”

checklistWhen we get text messages such as this one, we understand what needs to be done. We go to the store and we buy the items on our list; we don’t think about their final step in the process. What will these items be – breakfast, perhaps lunch, maybe a dinner entrée? We don’t know; we just know we need to get them. Once we’re home, they go into the fridge and we forget about them. Why do we forget? Because they were only items on our to-do list, nothing more – we lost interest in the end result.

In the business world, many organizations have gotten stuck with this type of thinking as well, where daily tasks have turned into something that employees complete, cross off their list and never think about again. Consider regular activities that impact your SAP-centric supply chain:

  • Report creation request: A report is created and sent off to the user.
  • Pricing change was done because someone requested a change.
  • Mass material change was asked for and completed.
  • A Warehouse Management System (WMS) process was changed on fly to ship a customer on time.
  • Changes are tested in production instead of the quality assurance test environment because the QA data/configuration is out of sync with the production data, leading to inaccurate test results and errors in the production system.

Supply chain-based organizations do the above every day – someone asks to create a change in the company’s SAP system or supply chain process, and that change is made; no questions asked. Take it off the to-do list for that day, and wait for the next fire to break out. Is this the right way to keep the organization pointed in the right direction? Absolutely not!

Ditch the Tactical To-Do List, Embrace Strategic Action

Organizations need to adopt the mindset of challenging processes, changes and direction. If you or your employees are merely completing tasks on a list, then you’re not adding complete value to the organization. It indicates that you do not understand where your organization is headed, which causes confusion and doubt within the organization itself. In turn, it increases the number of corners that are cut and breakdowns in processes.

Sure, products are being made, sold and shipped, but does that necessarily represent business growth? All those to-do lists devoid of any strategy work to keep the business stagnant. How do you get out of the vicious cycle of “to do” and arrive at “optimization and business value”?

It starts with people understanding the strategic direction of the organization and the long-term goals that leadership sets forth. It comes down to people understanding what they need to do to achieve those goals. It’s about looking past the tasks at hand to how accomplishing them strategically will help the company grow.

Take this recent example:

embrace-strategy-ditch-to-do-list-table

When you take the time to look at each issue and understand its respective impact across different sectors of the organization, then you’re adding value to your decisions. You impact the business in a positive light, and the number of proverbial fires that are burning are diminished significantly.

Have everyone in your organization look at how they deal with daily tasks and have them ask themselves the following questions:

  • What could this change affect down the road?
  • Does this follow our current business process?
  • Who else needs to be involved?
  • Will this bring business value to the many or the few?
  • Is this a need-to-have or a nice-to-have?

In doing so, you will be taking the first step toward organizational optimization.

Only through optimization can organizations add business value through their people, processes and technology. A to-do list gets issues resolved, but a strong optimization process drives business value across the board.

 

Reveal excels at helping companies optimize their value chains and achieve sustainable results. Learn more about our process, and contact us to discuss how our experts can help you transform what matters for your company.

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