World Class Supply Chain

The 5 Things You Need To Make Your Projects Wonderfully Successful Fun and Memorable with a few Lessons from Steve Jobs

iStock_000005289966SmallI’ve worked on many major projects and here are the best lessons learned.

Don’t budget so many projects in the New Year that you can’t deliver them. I worked at one pharmaceutical company and there were a limited amount of projects driven by a Project Officer and designed to fit the team’s work throughout the year. One project focused on streamlining the SAP Planning and Procurement exception messages. This one project contributed to attaining zero back orders for customers, for the first time in the history of the company. At another company there was no Project Officer thus whoever screamed the loudest got the project. Everyone became overwhelmed a few months into the Near Year as priorities and then people changed. Which company was more stable and successful?

Make your projects memorable. At one company we were given the green light to make each project kick off entertaining and memorable. For one project we made a video of me and a French person exchanging ideas and breaking the language barrier. We laughed until we cried tears making that video. The end result showed her chair spinning empty, as she stomps off in mock frustration.  At the project kick- off the entire team and executives loved the video and that project was hugely successful and memorable.  People want to be part of a project that is not only successful but gives them meaning and creates tight bonds amongst team members. Make it memorable not boring.

Projects must absolutely tie into the company’s overall strategy. What I enjoy doing is attaching a project to either the S&OP (Sales and Operations) cycle or the Supply Chain. I view one as vertical and directly attached to financial metrics and the other as horizontal and across the Supply Chain. I think all companies should tie each project to their company’s mission statement and begin by looking at what’s working (or not working) in the big picture. Why work on Inventory levels if your forecasting is weak?  Why give suppliers your manufacturing schedule if your schedule is not accurate? Always begin with the big picture and the overall company strategy.

Hire the best project manager money can buy. I’ve worked with the best and the worst. The worst are people that are untrained to lead projects but eagerly volunteer. I remember one persons strength was sending out nasty Emails and copying all the bosses.  That was their project management style. The best project managers build a deep and trusting bond between his team and himself. He (or she) uses tools effectively to stay on track. A great project manager understands the project objective and can solve issues quickly.

Take a few lessons from Steve Jobs

Don’t care about being right. Care about succeeding. Surround yourself with brilliant professionals from diverse backgrounds.  Use focus and simplicity. Simple can be harder than complex: You have to work hard to get your thinking clean to make it simple. People don’t know what they want until you show it to them. Prototype to the extreme. Know both the big picture and the details.

“I hate the way people use slide presentations instead of thinking,” Jobs recalled. “People would confront a problem by creating a presentation. I wanted them to engage, to hash things out at the table, rather than show a bunch of slides. People who know what they’re talking about don’t need PowerPoint.”

Terry Vermeylen is hell bent on rapidly transforming your business into a World Class Operation by eliminating one bad habit at a time.

Terry Vermeylen brings 30+ years of experience in SAP and Supply Chain Process improvement. As an SAP professional and Supply Chain Architect he has worked and consulted for some of the world’s largest and most successful manufacturing companies focusing primarily on the Aerospace and Pharmaceutical industries.

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