Understanding effective inventory management in a post-Covid world

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There are few people still alive that experienced a World War.

In some cases, countries have experienced a local war. Despite support and sanctions from other countries, they really don’t get involved. The reality is we haven’t learned about Customer-first or even World-first thinking. We tend to work in a vacuum – me first – and perhaps that’s why we tend to ignore rules and common sense, while others overtake us.

Well we have a World War now against a pandemic and sorting Covid-19 recovery globally. Each continent, country, city, suburb, group, family, individual has to consciously be responsible for sticking to sensible rules and collaborative action. Just like one person’s carelessness can lead to infection of hundreds and tens of deaths.

The war-winner has to be vaccine and the winners will be those nations that sort early vaccination of their population – Israel, the UK and USA are far ahead of the pack and their life and economies will see first-recovery benefit.

I took a look at how we South Africans are doing as it’s not just about people’s attitude but also about effective Logistics and Systems that enable this.

Government Learning from The Covid Experience

It’s laudable and appropriate that government wants to manage and control national supply and distribution of Covid Vaccine to the population. But in many countries good intentions have highlighted the governments’ collective lack of understanding of “Supply Chain”. If your Procurement Department is called “Supply Chain” that’s what you get – supplier selection and ordering – government is learning it’s a chain with many links and the most difficult to synchronize are more than just procurement. In many instances much of a governments’ processes are still reliant on paper and signatures for the honest majority to follow, highlighting that draconian government procurement needs more appropriate real System enablement to manage the not so honest as well.

Vaccinating a country is a global process – buy a few different products from a couple of suppliers, import and store in bulk. Add procurement of syringes, PPEs and other required materials. Then plan hundreds of loads to thousands of vaccination points – all in vehicles and equipment that maintain appropriate temperature conditions (cold-chain) – so the right quantity arrives at the right place at the right time. While others coordinate millions of people to register on-line and arrive at these points at the correct date/time in an orderly fashion to be vaccinated. And then there are the medical staff to organize. Sure this is teaching government that Public Private Partnerships (PPP) are essential to raise fair planning intentions to effective execution. It is also highlighting the need for government departments to Systemize fast. Seems to be the ideal environment to add or optimize an Enterprise Resource Planning (ERP) system.

Private Sector learning from Lockdown

Retailers expected and planned for a rise in online shopping. But most were not ready for the huge uptake of eCommerce exposing the African Raptor (rapid adaptor) from the Sloth (slow thinker).

All businesses are being forced into understanding effective inventory and storage management. They really get to see where proper application of Business IT shows its value in managed change and execution to customer preferences. And SYSPRO ERP played its part here – we had many calls for help to smooth processes that should have been anticipated by customers and SYSPRO earlier and faster. For many of us, lockdown meant getting to see your home, and remote meetings. For business, Lockdown was like a visit to the gym after a long break – some fit, some not so fit and many realizing it too late.

But luckily for our economies new skills are emerging as common sense with inventory management understanding, growing as experience of demand/supply changes spreads.

We have learned how to handle:

  • Planning on time and quickly to the stuff we really need – food, spares, whatever
  • Stocking policies – we worked out the effect of order quantities, lead-times, substitutes, alternate suppliers, brand value, logistics efficiency
  • Feeling global supply chain constraints and costs – financial and fatal

And now it’s time to max value from your ERP to enable these processes and more. Don’t wait for the next crisis to learn – use this time to look ahead and dovetail your Business IT Roadmap to your Business Strategy. Kill the spreadsheet planning, eliminate delays between physical and system transactions that destroy coordinated execution. If this is familiar, please speak to your ERP contact/ally or speak to me. Sure you may spend some money but you’ll get honest experienced help that will more than deliver value.

Individual learning

Whether you are government or business you are also an individual who consumes. And with the Covid Vaccine sagas filling news we all understand that what we consume has to travel first – through a supply chain.

Not only has it disciplined buying habits, but most people had a “wow” moment leading to and understanding of lead-times and replenishment as well – that’s a win-win. If new to this, you should sign yourself and your company up for an education course in ERP like SYSPRO LearnIt to grow understanding and future proofing – see what you should do but even more valuable what you could do with your ERP for your business health and efficiency.

Product selection has forced essential vs. non-essential, local vs. import. That influenced quantity of Butter or Biltong (like Jerky – only better) to keep in your fridge. Buy less when you need it and stock up on the essentials – like available French Reds before imports run out.

Differentiation between promise and deliver (a pet topic for me), plan vs. execution. We need both but often have only one: chaotic execution because there is no plan, or chaotic “nervous” plan to confuse our markets.

Emerging to post vaccine Covid, competing nations coming out of a new-economy war with some being the walking wounded limping forward, and some reaping new rewards. And that’s just business and government – what about you and me? stay safe and well.

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