Best Driver

I do not see something like this in my life. This guy deserve to win the: “The best truck driver in the world”, if such a reward exist. For most of the drivers to  turn that truck can be a big challenge, but this guy is fantastic.

See the picture and comment (click on picture to see movie ):

Truck driver

Best truck driver

Cloud and supply chain

Starting 2 or 3 years ago many people discuss about the cloud. Some voice said that many of the company will migrate to this kind of services in the next few years. I try, in this post to explain some of the concepts and also to offer you my opinion about the cloud service.

What cloud represents? Cloud, simply, it is a server when you can stare data, and this server can be anywhere in the world. Cloud is more than a server, because this service will offer you more service than a simple server. For example: Dropbox or Google Drive or Skydrive from Microsoft offer free cloud services witch allows you to share data, collaborate with other colleges and also edit files is some standard formats (excel file, word file, pdf file etc).

Together with cloud a new concept was develop: SaaS. What Saas is? The name is a acronym from “Software as a Service”. What that means? This means that you cannot buy the entire software solution, you can rent the software solution and you can use the software solution based on a monthly fee payment. If you pay the fee you can use  the solution, if you don’t pay you cannot use the solution.

All this things means that the software solution provider start to adapt their solution to new technology. This means that they must code the solution using the web technology and put this solution on a web server.

Also many providers of the supply chain software solution made this step and adapt their solution on web technology.

Why this solution is better than the classical solution, because if they do that they made for a reason and, all the time, the reason is money.

Let’s say that you want to implement a WMS (warehouse management software) solution in your organisation. In a classical approach you must to buy a server and put the software solution on that server. When you think what kind of server do you buy (what processors, how much memory, how big the hard drive can be etc) you always must to think in advance, and think that this server can sustain your business for 5 or more years. So you will buy a server with much more power than you need now and also you think to upgrade this server. Also you must find a room for this server and a guy who manage this. Also you must to think of a security system to secure the room and to secure the information from the server, also you must to buy licence for the software, antivirus software, server management software etc. All this things costs a lot of money and you must pay this money from the beginning, you do not have other choice if you choose the classical way.

What happens if you choose the cloud service? In this way you do not need the hardware, you rent a part of the hardware on a server, you do not pay a IT guy because the provider have a lot of IT guy, so you can rent time for a professional and very experience IT guy, you do not have to thing of a room, a security system or antivirus, or licence and other kind of software because everything it is already there and you just rent part of this service. Very beautiful and very easy if you choose the cloud way, because the hardware, software, database, IT guy, back-up and all this things can make your life a hell if you choose a classical way.

Cloud it is more expansive than classical way?  The answer is: NO, because you share the resources with others and you pay only for the resources that you use it. In this case one server (hardware) can be share for multiple users and also the cost will share, the same situation with the IT guy, room, security etc. SO the cost must be lower in cloud than the classical way. In fact is more cheaper because you do not pay the money from the beginning, you a pay a monthly fee just for the service that you use it. Also you can use more services and resources in the next second if you want and this give you the flexibility of your business.

People ask me about security in cloud and about the access of their data. They said: “my server is here in the room and is very secure, what happens in the cloud?”. You data is more secure in the cloud than in your server for several reason:

– you do not have back-up in other physical location because this cost a lot. Why this is important? Because in case of a fire or earthquake witch affect your building you data can be lost forever or if a hard drive collapse also you data can be partially or totally lost. In cloud the provider made daily back-up in other physical location than the current location. If fact you have the same data on different servers in the world and the probability to loose data is lower than in your case.

– the security of the cloud provider is best than your security thinking of building security and IT security. I saw some buildings where some providers have servers and they have there very hard security procedures. Is like you try to enter in a atomic electrical power generator. The IT security of the cloud provider in better than yours because he have specialist only on that direction, they do not made anything else all day than testing and solve the security problems.

People ask about their data, because the cloud provider have access to their data. Yes, this is true, they can access your data, but in most of the case the software solution provider is also the cloud provider and in this case nothing is different in the cloud than classical situation. Using classical situation your software provider can access your data anytime, actually you give them access and ask him politely to access you data because you need maintenance and you have a contract for this. Even if you do not let them to access your data he can write 3 row of a codes in a software and all the data that you have on the server he can have it on his server and you will never know that.

What’s the catch? Why do not all the people use cloud? The answer is simple: they are not informed and it is a new technology and must take some time to become popular.

It is also another aspect: if you work in a cloud you data can be compromises indirectly because if the hackers are not interested till now of your data, if you are in the cloud and they brake the server they will take also your data even if you are not the target of attack, The risk will increase.

Another important aspect is that in time you will become dependent of the cloud service provider and they will rise you price and the price will become higher than now. Think of the fuel supplier, you are dependent of them and they control everything and you do not have really a choice even if you want to change something. But this will happens in many years from now on.

So, if you plan to implement a software solution in your supply chain, consider cloud services like a viable solution. Know, after you read this article, i think you are more informed and more prepared for the new technology.

5 steps to form a team

Supply chain and logistics operations requires, in most of a time, a team work. You must work in a team with your company colleges, but sometime you may also work in a team with people from other organisation.

If you want to perform the performance of your team it is very important. If you have a team witch s not stable and the people do not work together it is very difficult to achieve the tasks and to obtain performance. For this reason, you, as a team leader, must to consolidate the team and made them to work together like a single person. This job – team forming – it is a permanent one, because more or less people leave the team and, some times, you must to insert a new member in a team and this member can be accepted by the team. A smooth and easy way to create a team is to know the next 5 steps to forma a team:

1. Forming – is the first step of the process. In this step the people from the team start to know each other, they analyze each other and they are polite and positive. Some of them can be an anxious because they are involve in a new tasks and they do not know the other team member. In this stage you, as a team leader, have an important role: to made them know each other and transmit to the people the role of the team and the tasks. This period it is a short one and they pass to the next stage: storming.

2. Storming – it is a normal stage of forming a team and it is a natural way. Even if you do not like this process steps  you cannot pass this step. Al you can do is to do it smoothly and shrink it as it is possible. In this step member of the team start to fight each other and also start to fight with you and challenge your position. In this step team member start to conquer their position and start to have frequent fights. Some of the members start to complains about how much they work compare with other team members, some of the members start to be uncomfortable with the approach and other try to put some barriers to achieve the tasks. In this steps many team fails. If the team leader is not a strong one and it is not recognize by the team the member of the team fight all the time for different reason (sometimes this reason is stupid) and the team will fails. If the team pass this step enter in the next stage – norming.

3. Norming – it is the stable stage of the team. In this stage the team are stable and clear hierarchy was establish. Every team member find its area and clear understand what is its role in the team. In this stage the team works together, help each other to perform and take the critics like a way to solve problems and achieve the team goals. They start to socialize and they stat to see the progress of the team. When a new tasks come the team will balanced between Storming and norming stage, but the transition from storming to norming will be smoothly and faster.

4. Performing – in this stage the team is ready to perform. In this stage the evolution of the tasks it is faster and the team working together like a person. They know each other very well (team member) and some times they work with no team leader. In this stage if one member leave the team it will not affect the team performance. In this stage you (as a team leader) can delegate more of the operational tasks and you can focus on the team development. Being part of the team can be a easy job compare with what was in the previous stage.

5. Adjourning – in this stage the team was breaking up. For some of the team member this stage can be very frustrating because they made some personal connection with other team member and because the future job will not be what they desire. In this stage you must give the team possibilities to celebrate they achievements and also give them the trust that you will work together in the future and this can be a good thing because the people have past experience in a team.

If you are a team leader and want to build a strong and performing team you must controlled all of this stage, In every stage you must act so that the problems create inside the team to be fair and clear solved. You must be involved in a team with all your resource and find witch is the motivation factor for every person in the team and use this factor wisely.

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Superficial management

Let’s suppose that you are a general manager in a company, and one of yours employee (let’s call him man1) comes to you and said that he cannot solve a task because another employee from another department (let’s call him man2) do not made his job and man1 cannot solve the task because it is block by the man2.

In some of the companies in this situation GM said that man1 solve the problem because he have the task and he must to solve it. This is a very bad management decision because the man1 cannot have the tools to motivate or force man2 to made his jobs. In this case man1 will become frustrating in very short period of time and GM can put him in a very difficult situation. In most of the cases man1 do not solve the problem and he try too hide this till someone ask again how the task was solved. This is the worst situation for the company and for clients because one problem witch is not solve in time will affect clients soon.

Another situation is when a man1 identify a problem and said the problem to the top management but this problem cannot be solve easily by man1, but can be solve with less effort by man2. Because the man2 it is not so involved in the company business like man1 the GM give the problem to be solved by man1 (the same person that identify the problem), in most of the case this person have more information about the problem than any other person in the company because he collect some data before to tell the problem to senior managers. I face with this kind of decision many times in my activity. This is another examples of bad management decision. In this case man1, witch is a employee who want to solve the problem that he saw in the company, next time when he saw a problem do not tell this problem to the management because he know that he must to solve the problem even it is not in his primary focus and in his job description.

Also in this case the company loose because this problem affect the client or you spend more money to atop the problem to affect the clients. In many cases the top managers do not know this kind of problems and they don’t think that kind of problems exist in their company.

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How could I know ……?

Last year I have a project with a large company from Romania, and the General Manager ask me how can he know if things going well in his company? He want something fast, very easy to see from a single sight, not to study days different reports.

I give him a simple solution witch can give you an idea if things is on the right way in your company: if sales manager, purchasing manager and logistic manager have a goods professional relationship this can be a sign for the owner of the company or GM that the things are not working well in the company.  When I said good professional relationship means that they do not fight for things like this for example: sales manager want deliver every quantities to every distance every time, but the logistic manager can’t do that because of the costs and they must to have some fight on this subjects; purchasing manager want to have more stocks because he wants to avoid out of stock, but the logistic manager do not have enough space in the warehouse etc. If they do not have fight like this inside the company and if they do not discuss this king of things in the meeting something wrong happens in the company because it is clear that every of them hide this kind of things, and, finally, this is wrong for company.

If your sales manager, logistic manager and purchasing manager do not have fight like this, this can be a good sign to go deep inside the organization because somethings happens wrong there. Actually every department must a control factor for other department and they always must show the problems that have in daily operational activities.

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