Logistics is an essential function in most businesses, with strategic, analytical and broad-minded logistics professionals required to unlock growth and profitability in an increasingly challenging sector.
Technological change currently marks the industry, bringing opportunities both to companies within the sector, as well as businesses with a logistics operation. Whilst these businesses continue to invest a significant proportion of their income on the function, it is often given very little attention, both in measuring the true value of the activity and impact, as well as the training and development of staff that work in those areas.
Sue Byrne, Founder and Owner of Byrne Bright Solutions, a network of supply chain, logistics and distribution consultants, dedicates her expertise to help businesses realise the value of a strengthened logistics operation. Drawing on her logistics experience, Sue shares her thoughts on how increasing investment and focus on logistics professionals can help drive business growth, empower a workforce and help to achieve the impossible.
Customers are becoming increasingly demanding, expecting orders to arrive in shorter timeframes and in perfect condition. A dynamic logistics function is fundamental to ensure processes are streamlined, effective and intuitive to be able to meet customer expectations.
Sue explains, “Often my work involves encouraging businesses to look at the holistic cost of the service they are providing, rather than the unit cost of delivery. A balance score card helps businesses understand what they are currently spending, what the value of their service is and identify potential investments, for example technologies, that can maximise that value.”
“This has led to some interesting, customer-focused projects within the logistics space, including the implementation of vendor management technology. Using a portal, a supplier could view customers’ current inventories, with the ability to make suggestions for them to replenish and manage their stock. This was a real two-way collaboration where both vendor and customer could benefit.”
Providing support to add that additional value enables businesses to thrive in an increasingly competitive supplier environment.
When utilised effectively, logistics is transformative with the potential to deliver tangible and sustainable business outcomes to gain competitive advantage. Your service, quality, cost or range can be your unique selling point and biggest selling point.
Sue explains how the opportunity to deliver pace and change at scale encouraged her to work independently.
“Spending my career in the profession, I’ve worked in numerous logistics positions, progressing right up to Chief Operating Officer. From overseeing the logistics operation internally in multiple companies across distinct sectors, I realised that what I really love to do is manage transformation and change. Your ability to deliver on this really depends on an organisation’s approach to the function.”
“Working independently in a consultative role allows me to get involved with exciting new projects and innovations that keep pushing the boundaries of what’s possible in the logistics sphere. In this way, I’m not only able to say I transformed a service or saved a business money, but that I made a lasting impact and a real difference to the people I worked with. Being independent from the business also enables me to influence more widely through the organisation and bring a broader change than just in the area I am focused on.”
Bringing in an independent logistics professional into your organisation helps you to see things from a completely different angle. This focus gives you the opportunity to challenge what you’re doing and why.
Sue highlights, “As I am not part of the business, I’m able to ask questions that people haven’t thought to ask, or have even been too embarrassed to ask! I find that when an organisation is so focused on business as usual, they don’t stop to consider what they are doing and why.”
“Taking a few steps back and addressing those simple questions generates an injection of new ideas. I only possess generalist knowledge, it’s the workforce who are the experts in that particular business, so challenging them on those root concepts sparks their own creativity, allowing them to realise how they can enhance processes to add further value to their business.”
One of the biggest enablers for operational transformation is having an energised workforce who have the confidence in their own ability to make changes which reap measurable results. Investing in logistics professionals that can empower the team can achieve such an impact:
It’s integral to give your workforce the space to develop and the confidence to be supported when striving to do something beyond the ordinary.
“When I come into an organisation and put forward a challenge, people say it’s impossible and asking too much. A couple of months later, they’ve achieved it and they’ve achieved it themselves. This empowerment gives them the motivation to go for the next unthinkable challenge.”
“Watching people grow throughout the process is one of the most rewarding aspects of my job. This means that when I leave a project, I know that the changes I’ve initiated are sustainable and the benefit will carry on delivering, with a motivated and enthused workforce behind it.”
Even though the success of logistics is underpinned by an empowered and dynamic workforce, many businesses fail to invest in the training and development of its own people. Sue highlights how harnessing the power of existing employees can enable them to achieve the impossible.
“Above anything else, logistics is a people-focused discipline. There’s a substantial number of outstanding professionals that given the opportunity would deliver more to their business.”
“Growing your own people is the call to success in any business; you’ll find the capability to deliver is already there. It’s integral to give your workforce the space to develop and the confidence to be supported when striving to do something beyond the ordinary.”
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