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Long Range Business/Systems Planning

    A 70-location distributor of plumbing, HVAC and pipe/valves/fittings was half-way through a lengthy re-write of their home grown software, and had a large IT department, when the Chairman wondered whether this approach was better than getting packaged software. He contacted us to get the answer to his question. We examined the structure and features of the system, its ability to support planned expansion. Then we estimated the costs of retaining the system vs. replacing it, and made our recommendation. As part of the investigation we evaluated the cost-benefits of replacing RF in the central distribution facility with advanced warehouse technologies.  

    A six-location distributor of electrical and industrial supplies had started to re-write their home grown software but found that the process was taking many more resources than had been anticipated. But they had not really looked at software packages. We prepared discussion papers, including cost estimates for software packages, a comparison of features in their software vs. packages, and the pros and cons of home grown software vs. software packages. We met with the management team to discuss the papers. They are now investigating packages in detail.

    A three-location distributor of janitorial/sanitary supplies, commercial/industrial paper, and packaging was stocking most products at each location, but still needed to make three transfers each week to each remote distribution center. Financial people wanted to stock much less at each remote location, and transfer product only when it was sold to customers of a location. Salespeople opposed reducing the extent of remote stocking. The CEO asked us to help the staff settle the issue. We identified data needed for a decision, analyzed the data gathered by the staff, calculated the extent of product that could be transferred rather than stocked, and produced a recommendations report.

    A16-location of distributor of electrical supplies wasn't sure whether to keep their old system or replace it. We examined the structure and features of the heavily modified system, the extent of modifications, its ability to support future enhancements and add-ons, and the likely level of future support. Then we estimated the costs of enhancing the system vs. replacing it, and made our recommendation.

    The president of a world-wide manufacturer of solder and chemicals wasn't sure if obtaining MRP software would reduce inventories and/or production cycle time. We conducted a feasibility/justification study (that also addressed adding new accounting applications and whether to increase the speed of data communications to remote US plants).

    Executives of a 110-location distributor of plumbing, A/C, electrical and industrial supplies wanted to reduce inventory but were having difficulty doing so. And with so many branches, they wondered if regional warehouses would save money without hurting customer service; and if a central buying function would improve inventory levels while reducing costs. We studied the inventory management and purchasing functions of their (in-house developed) software; visited branches to examine procedures and controls, and understand how branch buyers function; gathered data about the costs and savings from operating a regional warehouse and centralizing buying. Then we recommend changes in software, and procedures and controls, that dramatically reduced the inventory level as sales grew; and made recommendations about a regional warehouse and central buying that further reduced their costs. 

     A 10-location distributor of wood products used by makers of cabinets, display cases and furniture was planning to add 5 more locations, and all would stock a complete, expensive line. He wondered if one or two distribution facilities to replenish branches would enable the branches to reduce inventory without hurting customer service. We conducted a detailed study and told him what to do.

    A vertically integrated manufacturer of steel and forged/machined die blocks had developed (in house) several administrative software applications, but wasn't making much progress on applications for operations. We developed a long range data processing plan that defined the applications to develop, hardware upgrading, and changes in MIS personnel.

    A four-location manufacturer of electrical supplies wanted to increase the accuracy of inventory data, but wasn't sure if a warehouse management system (WMS) would be justified. We conducted a multi-plant study and recommended some new technology.