Supply Chain Consultants

Good supply chain management is all about responsiveness, flexing up and down to match the needs of the business, and being able to respond rapidly to change. That’s why a supply chain consultant or interim supply chain manager from Executives Online is the ideal recruitment solution.

Through our global talent bank you will quickly get the supply chain management experts you need, and for exactly as long you need them.

Our Supply Chain Consultants span the full supply chain disciplines from logistics, warehousing and inventory, to procurement and strategic sourcing; are available immediately as individuals or full teams; and are selected to match your specific brief. They are strategic thinkers and hands-on implementers, familiar with all the latest supply chain tools and techniques. But compared to traditional consultancies where the deliverable is a recommendation, our candidates will also roll up their sleeves, get stuck in and implement the right solution. Their loyalty is to you, not us, and there is no cross-selling of additional services.

With speed being of the essence, we will take a brief of your requirements and then put forward two to four pre-interviewed, fully vetted candidates – all of whom are available immediately. These will be top-flight, experienced Purchasing or Logistics Managers – senior "heavy-weight yet hands-on" managers, with a proven track record spanning all supply chain functions and offering an ROI of between 5 and 21.

The benefits of an Interim Supply Chain Manager soon become clear if you consider the many supply chain issues you may be facing:

Customers increasingly demand a global service, supplied by global partners – so the pressure to merge and acquire is great.

Many acquired businesses are smaller operations – offering the right geographical presence but creating major supply chain management issues. Their systems are incompatible. They may have different distribution channels. There will be existing customer relationships and partnerships to consider, and suppliers to rationalise. There may be major cultural differences, too.

Yet, with margins tight, executives must ensure that their disparate companies, offices, depots and hubs work together as a seamless network. Systems must be migrated, protocols established, customer bases merged, suppliers streamlined, global contracts re-negotiated, IT incompatibilities addressed… and all of this must be done quickly.

Interim logistics and procurement managers – who have a proven track record in M and A work – can be invaluable in this situation. They absorb the additional workload, hasten successful integration, and have the experience to support managers who have not been through the process before.

Performance Improvement
Companies are constantly looking for ways to improve their supply chain performance. And its easy to see why – with 20% of a company's costs typically tied up in the supply chain, and so many customers judging a company by its ability to deliver almost to anticipated order.

Reducing costs, eliminating waste, improved productivity, creating new services, holding stock on consignment, mass customisation… the potential areas for improvement are almost endless. But the solution may involve the introduction of new technology, adopting vendor managed inventory, a rethinking of processes, moving to a third party logistics provider, rationalising suppliers, new training, expanding into new geographical markets or developing and delivering a different channel strategy. These are often specialist projects which an incumbent team hasn't faced before.

Interim supply chain specialists – who have successfully handled such initiatives in similar business situations – are a no-risk, results-guaranteed route. Companies who deploy them gain immediate access to their experience, insight – and have know results will be delivered fast.

Most heavily supply-chain dependent companies have a small number of large customers with whom they do business very effectively through EDI. Their challenge is to be equally effective when dealing with the far larger number of small customers on their books. EDI is not an option because of its cost and complexity. So other e-commerce solutions are being sought.

There is a massive commercial argument to embrace technology. For instance a hub helped a major IT company reduce order errors by 30% by enabling 42% of its orders to be electronically entered by the end customer.

Such systems have a profound effect on the supply chain. We can provide interim supply chain managers with specific experience in this area. Their knowledge will prove invaluable in helping companies scope their needs, explore the technical suppliers, and manage the entire project.

Research by Warwick Business School suggests e-procurement is 50% cheaper than manual procurement, per transaction. Others report that UK companies, through poor manual procurement practices, waste as much as £120b per year.

It's easy to see how such numbers are reached when you consider the value of a typical purchase and then consider that it costs a major corporate about £75 in administration and authorisation costs simply to place that order. However, it is difficult for individual companies to quantify what e-procurement will do for them – and to then move to an e-procurement solution.

We can provide interim procurement managers who have managed major e-procurement initiatives. Their experience will quickly accelerate you up the learning curve – saving you costly mistakes. They will be able to scope how e-procurement could really help your company – and give you all the practical, short-term help you need to deliver this critical part of your supply chain strategy.

Customer Support
Latest research shows that 70% of European businesses plan to consolidate their suppliers in the mid term. So the suppliers that support their customers best will see their businesses grow. But this is no easy task. Customers expect their suppliers to deliver to order and are striving for delivery to anticipated order.

To fulfil this demand the channels of communication between all parties, supplier – manufacturer – wholesaler – customer, must be extremely efficient. This will result in major new customer order management systems – with intranets, extranets, EDI and e-commerce hubs.

These can be massive projects. Companies can save millions by calling in an experienced supply chain specialist or team of specialists – who have previously overseen the introduction of such a major technological change. They will know all the pitfalls. They will also be able to provide practical support to purchasing and logistics personnel who have probably never managed such a major project before.

New Products and Markets
When a company moves into new product or market areas, the logistics and procurement functions must be able to respond rapidly.

New products or geographies may demand a complete rethink of existing supplier and distribution strategies.

In some development-led sectors – such as pharmaceuticals – close and effective collaboration with suppliers, customers, research organisations and commercial partners plays a critical part in the all-important development, trial and launch of new products.

Similarly, a company's ability to expand into new geographies will be profoundly dependent on its distribution capabilities.

Experienced interim supply chain specialists can leverage their knowledge to help you rapidly identify and address the supply chain issues arising from your new product and market development strategy. They can be brought in to manage specific one-off projects, or to supplement teams.

Business Turnarounds
With 20% of the typical company's costs tied up in its supply chain, this is an obvious area of focus in any turnaround situation.

Interim supply chain managers with turnaround expertise can quickly assess a company's situation, see where the supply chain strategy is failing, and bring their massive experience and impartiality to bear. If poor technology, a lack of key performance indicators, or lack of training is a critical part of the problem, a specialist interim supply chain manager can be called in to recommend and implement the changes required.

These experts can cut through the clutter to see exactly what needs to be done. Then they help the management team do it – either by getting truly hands-on, or by mentoring the management team. This can include grooming key managers to take over the reins and to continue the good work once the interim manager has left.

Profit Growth
In many areas it is the supply chains that compete – not the companies. Where product price differences are small, service quality becomes paramount as a differentiator. Our supply chain specialists will help you build service into your supply chain. You will be able to segment your customers, to focus on those most profitable, provide them with value-added services, and respond quickly to their needs – the right product, right place, right time, right quality.

Cost Minimisation
Efficiency and costs are linked. As efficiency falls, costs increase – costs to rework, reroute, redeliver, replace. Our supply chain experts will show you how to eliminate the non-value-added processes and drive down costs in areas such as materials handling, overheads, purchased materials, transportation, warehousing, production processes, and personnel.

Working Capital Efficiency
The largest consumer of working capital is excess inventory. The true purpose of inventory is to provide a carefully managed hedge against the uncertainties of demand, supply and manufacturing. If you can organise your supply chain so that as much uncertainty as possible is removed, you can then, through an adaptive supply chain, be in a position to respond to demand in a way which maximizes revenue and profit. Our supply chain consultants will show you how.

Fixed Capital Efficiency
Our supply chain specialists will help you increase throughput, restructure your physical network, and implement outsourcing or subcontracting alternatives to improve asset utilisation and returns.

Tax Minimisation
Most global organisations have some freedom to decide where in the world operations are located. For example, in the telecom sector, Motorola's restructuring to focus on Germany was a tax-based decision. However, few companies look at their supply chain as a way of minimising their tax burden. Superior supply chain management can mean that the profit-generating decisions are made in a tax-efficient part of the world. Our specialists will help you assess the options and implement the right move for you.

Critical Skills Gap
When a valued logistics manager or purchasing manager leaves, it can take months to find a suitable replacement, negotiate terms, and wait while they serve their notice period. Interim managers are the perfect way to plug this short-term, business-critical gap created by an unexpected departure. Interim supply chain managers are also an ideal solution for companies keen to quickly fill the shoes of a promoted manager while a long-term replacement is recruited.