A major supply chain improvement project launched last year was "focused strictly around improving service to the end customer and reducing costs," he says.
Mueller was brought on board to lead this project, while keeping the supply chain running smoothly. "Having to balance the implementation of supply chain improvements while meeting demands of the day-to-day business was the biggest challenge," Mueller says. He started by looking at existing capacity and resources. This entailed implementing a basic work measurement system to understand how resources currently were being used. "It is vital to understand this, particularly if no productivity measures have ever been in place," he says. The information gathered enabled the company to see where value was being added and where it was not, where there were repetitive tasks that could be automated and where there were inefficiencies that could be eliminated, says Mueller.
Once capacity was understood, the second step was to set priorities. "You look at your expected ROI on various projects and prioritize them, just as with any undertaking," says Mueller. This approach allowed daily work to continue while improvement projects were under way, he says. "You don't dedicate your entire staff to process improvement initiatives because you have to keep the lights on, so it is critical to separate these two things and execute on both."
Briggs saw "excellent results" from its supply chain improvement initiatives and gained the added benefit of eliminating a lot of frustration for employees, says Mueller. "We addressed things that had been nagging our workers for years in terms of inefficient processes or system work-arounds," he says. "Once we eliminated their frustrations and improved base productivity, workers had more free time to spend on process improvement projects."
One example was reducing the time spent on purchase-order creation from 80 percent of a buyer's time to 20 percent, Mueller says. "This was a case were our workers thought they were were doing the right thing by using 'shortcuts,' but these 'shortcuts' actually were creating more work."
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Keywords: Aberdeen Group, Pharmaceutical/Bio-Tech, HR & Labor Management, Business Strategy Alignment, Education & Professional Development, Forecasting & Demand Planning, Business Intelligence & Analytics, Sales and Operations Planning, ERP & Enterprise Systems, Business Process Management, Global Supply Chain Management, supply chain improvement initiatives
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