Great speakers are memorable because they find ways to drive home key messages through stories that resonate with us all. Hopefully, you’ve attended a conference with speakers who motivated, encouraged, and inspired you either personally or professionally. But what do you do after the event? How can you share that excitement and implement the challenges set forth when you return to work?
This week, LeanLogistics hosted ClientConnect ‘16 at the Loews Hotel in downtown Chicago. The two-day seminar provided motivational speakers, discussions with supply chain experts, technology work sessions, and good ole’ fashion networking with shippers, carriers, software users, and analysts.
What the Speakers Shared
Josh Linkner: Josh Linkner, a very successful entrepreneur and the founder of e-Prize, shared five tips to innovative thinking. He encouraged attendees to think about ways to defy tradition. Forward thinking involves evaluating status quo and seeking out new ways to accomplish the same task…faster, smarter, and with greater results.
Dr. Larry Burns: Larry Burns advises organizations on the future of mobility, logistics, manufacturing, energy, and innovation. He is currently assisting engineers at Google as they work through the challenges of a driverless car. One of his key takeaways was to dedicate a lot of time to deeply understand a problem before you try to find the solution.
Seth Mattison: When it comes to predicting workforce trends Seth Mattison is the expert. He helps executives understand communication barriers that can develop between generations—and how to overcome them. He believes flexibility is the key to bridging the communication gap, and he encouraged everyone to follow the three Cs: courage to embrace change, curiosity about what’s new, and commitment to building a better workforce.
All three speakers made a significant impact on attendees at ClientConnect ’16. We’ve already received fantastic feedback from clients including this response: “This was my 1st conference and I learned so much from these 2 days. I can’t wait to go back to my office and share this information.”
The Best Ways to Share Inspiration at Work
So what are the best ways to keep the momentum from a great conference moving forward when you return to work? Here are a few tips to share inspiration with coworkers.
- Write a company blog post — Share your experience by writing a fun blog post about it on your company’s intranet. Be sure to include tips, pictures, and if possible, the speaker’s slide deck.
- Host a Lunch and Learn — Schedule a room around the lunch hour to share a short presentation about what you learned. Save time for a Q and A session.
- Set up an Inspiration Wall — Find a centrally located wall in the office where everyone can share their favorite inspirational quotes.
- Company Challenge — Host a company-wide challenge. Pick one challenge from a seminar speaker you heard from and share it with the whole company. Set a deadline for everyone to report back on their progress or success.
We hope everyone who attended ClientConnect ‘16 left inspired, full of new knowledge, and ready to tackle all of their transportation hurdles with vigor. Thank you to everyone who attended. We look forward to igniting inspiration again next year.
In this day and age, technology makes us feel more connected, but the type of connections you build over social media are not the same as talking to someone face to face. That’s why I am excited about LeanLogistics’ ClientConnect in Chicago in just two weeks. I know I will get to talk to my customers on a personal level and have the opportunity to hear them explain what is going on in their business and how I might be able to find solutions to problems they are facing.
Building a strong network is so vital in the supply chain industry where change is a constant. An issue your company is facing may have already been tackled by an industry peer and your professional connections could help bring about a solution faster. ClientConnect provides the opportunity to network with our operational experts as well as other customers.
All networking events are designed to be fun, but it’s also helpful if you have a game plan in mind to get the maximum benefit out of your time at the event.
Here are a few tips to keep in mind to network like a pro.
- Review the Attendance List — Look over the attendance list to see who will be at the event and create a list of three people you want to strike up a conversation with. Identify people who are not in your normal network or industry.
- Prepare Questions — Have a few general questions in mind you can ask someone new to keep the conversation moving forward. Example: How long have you been a client of LeanLogistics?
- Move Around the Room — While it can be fun to reconnect with people you already know, make sure you are moving around the room. Introduce yourself to someone new and share your business card.
- Get Social — Join the conversations online during the event. Follow the hashtag and share your thoughts on the information presented by the keynote speakers.
- Follow Up — Send a quick follow up note to help build the connection. Example: It was great meeting you at ClientConnect. Let’s stay in touch.
You can easily follow all of these tips with the help of the ClientConnect ‘16 app. It’s already available for download and has the attendance list, agenda, and networking opportunities right at your fingertips.
It also contains information on all the labs we are offering during the event. You can review the description, see who is leading the discussion, and add it to your calendar. The labs provide a hands-on approach on how to utilize and implement pertinent functionality or a process which will have an effect on improving cost or service to your business.
I am psyched for ClientConnect and I hope you are too. It is a huge benefit to our customers and provides a fun arena to grow your professional network—just one more way we are building better supply chains together.
When visiting the LeanLogistics headquarters you’ll see whiteboards everywhere—we use them for brainstorming, strategy sessions, and project updates. Whiteboards are useful for a variety of purposes, but not an effective tool for managing a fleet. One of our goals during the development of LeanFleet was to give transportation managers the opportunity to replace their whiteboards with consoles.
Managing the planning and execution of a private fleet at a high level requires access to near real-time data regarding the positioning of assets and the availability of resources. During the development phase of LeanFleet, we made several on-site customer visits to observe their daily workflow. We noticed manual processes causing limited visibility to the supply chain.
Whiteboards —Some transportation teams used whiteboards to assist in tracking driver and asset locations for pick up, delivery, and backhaul.
Spreadsheets — Manual processes were in place to keep track of driver assignments, days off, and driver and asset availability.
Paper Information — Drivers were handed paper information with their load and stop details.
Manual entry accounts for an immense amount of time and labor and enhances the opportunity for human error. LeanFleet erases the need for a whiteboard by providing real-time information about fleet assets electronically, including a function that automates the selection of drivers based on a variety of factors including proximity, hours of service, and calendar events. Once the information is in LeanTMS, it can be retrieved at any time from any location providing visibility outside of the office. We also saw an opportunity to allow companies to leverage their telematics investment to send dispatch information directly to the driver’s truck.
One Platform, Single Workflow
Some of our customers were experiencing a different set of obstacles as they tried to maintain a blended transportation strategy. Shippers using fleet assets as well as common carriers had to navigate through several different systems for everything from planning to settlement. Now, they can handle all planning and execution on one platform in a single workflow.
We have stayed in close contact with our customers who allowed us to observe their workflows as we developed LeanFleet. They were involved in reviewing prototypes and beta testing that provided valuable feedback that we incorporated into the product along the way.
Planners are excited about the visibility that will allow for better management of their fleet resources. Dispatchers enjoy the opportunity to eliminate spreadsheets and communicate directly with drivers via messaging. Drivers have responded well to having their assignment information relayed directly to the telematics system in their truck. Managers have experienced the value of having one system when reviewing reports and analytics to find ways to save money in their supply chain.
What’s your workflow say about your transportation strategy? Do you have a bottleneck we can help straighten out? Our developers love a challenge. Let us know how we can partner with you to build a better supply chain together.
When you work in sales you always ask for feedback from clients. You want to know what customers are thinking and challenged with, and then make adjustments to meet their needs. Thirteen years ago, I started working at LeanLogistics as an implementation manager. I was impressed the company offered a free networking event for all clients called ClientConnect. I invited all of my customers to my first ClientConnect at the Haworth Center in Holland, Michigan. When the night was over, I felt it was a huge success. Later that month, I reached out to my clients to see what they thought. They all agreed the event was extremely valuable and they appreciated the opportunities it provided. But there was a running theme to their feedback for future ClientConnects: Don’t ever hold it in the middle of January in Holland, Michigan, again. (I guess not everyone appreciates a beautiful Michigan winter.)
True to form we listened to that feedback and adjusted our timing of ClientConnect. And over the years, we have moved it to different cities ranging from Chicago, Illinois, to Atlanta, Georgia. What’s been exciting to watch is how ClientConnect has grown through the years. The venue spaces are larger and larger as the number of clients taking part continues to expand. This evolution hit me a few years ago when I realized I no longer knew everyone in the room. The days of ClientConnect serving as an opportunity for me to catch up with clients had changed. Now it was a chance to meet new customers brought in by different sales managers, to talk to them about LeanLogistics, and to find how our software solutions are working in their favor.
When new clients ask about ClientConnect I always tell them it’s a wonderful opportunity to get to know people who are in the supply chain industry, regardless of what vertical they work in. A logistics coordinator in retail could strike up a conversation with a food & beverage executive, or a transportation manager in a Fortune 500 company could break bread with an analyst from a family-owned business. We encourage everyone to let their guard down, enjoy the discussion, the networking, and learn something new.
All of the feedback I’ve heard through the years is that everyone loves ClientConnect. We value our customers. The customer comes first and ClientConnect is one way we give back. We want each customer to know we are dedicated to building better supply chains together.
Deciding to buy a transportation management system (TMS) is a big decision and there are a lot of factors to consider. One area of consideration that, at times, can be overlooked is the type of customer support the company will provide after implementation. This is an important question because it can impact the ability to maximize a TMS investment.
At LeanLogistics, our customer’s satisfaction is a top priority. We are committed to ensuring all customers receive outstanding support from the moment they decide to purchase our software solution. LeanLogistics wins Stevie Award for Customer Service. Not every TMS provider has a customer support team, so make sure you ask a lot of direct questions about the company’s support program.
Building the Partnership
As a customer begins the initial process of utilizing new software, there is a period of time spent ramping up on system knowledge and working through day-to-day operations. But the real value of a software partner can be found in the days and weeks after the learning phase. Whether that hits two months or 12 months after you go-live, your software partner should be ready to start exposing other areas of value to increase your ROI.
When it comes to driving value out of the partnership there are two types of support: tactical and strategic. The combination will ensure you are covering basic blocking and tackling while also establishing a vision for the future.
Here are Some Common Tactical Support Questions
- What new functionality do I need assistance setting up?
- What problems arise in the daily process that could be avoided by implementing a new piece of the technology or modifying my current setup?
- Why isn’t my current setup working the way I expected?
These questions are addressed by the tactical relationship the provider has with their customer and drives the business forward daily. Troubleshooting and problem solving is the responsibility of the customer support team. When evaluating a company’s customer support program ask about these common standards of support.
- Ease of requesting help
- Team members professionalism
- Seamless escalation of incidents
- Single point of contact through resolution
- Self-service materials for basic functions
In addition to the five standards listed above, our team also feeds key data back to the organization to allow for a more robust customer engagement strategy.
Strategic Questions to Consider
- What business changes are coming up in the organization that could be addressed by the partner’s technology or services?
- What are we not taking advantage of today that would be of interest?
- How could we change business process to better align?
- How are my other customers handling similar issues?
Relationships managers are key to the ongoing and long-term vision of the partnership. They open the conversation to understand your current and future business needs. As your advocate, the relationship manager will act as your voice internally to give your perspective on future development. This person should also act as a “priority manager”, someone who ensures you are implementing and seeing results from your recent projects.
What’s Your Communication Rhythm?
Remember, this is a partnership and you want to have a communication rhythm to keep everyone on the same page. Set a frequency of contact with your software partner. Tactical contact engages almost daily, but could also benefit from a monthly review of outstanding items. From the strategic perspective, some companies want to meet quarterly, while others only need to set a vision twice a year. Establishing those communication guidelines will lead to continued success to maximize your investment.
Norway is the world’s second largest seafood exporter and the equivalent of 37 million seafood meals produced by Norway is consumed worldwide each day. In 2015, Norway exported NOK 74.5 billion (€7.86 billion) worth of seafood – 8% more than in 2014. 67% of exports go to the EU.
The unpredictability of harvesting live fish puts great pressure on the supply chain. Knowing customer demand but not completely knowing supply volume creates uncertainty as to whether the demand can be satisfied. And this leads to unknown transportation volumes.
This, together with short lead times to reach customer sites, can result in the shipper either having a surplus or shortage of transportation capacity which then leads to increased costs as the real capacity is determined.
LeanLogistics is running a half day and evening event to address this transportation challenge in the aquaculture industry. The event will be held in the luxurious five star The Thief Hotel in Oslo, Norway on 12th May 2016.
LeanLogistics has helped companies save between 5% and 15% of their transportation spend by using LeanLogistics Transportation Management Software (LeanTMS). Marine Harvest, a keynote speaker, has been a LeanLogistics customer since 2013 and has already saved up to 5% in transportation costs.
Attendees will have the opportunity to learn how to reduce transportation costs and control freight spend via automated self-invoicing using LeanLogistics’ Transportation Management System software (LeanTMS).
Attendees will also:
- Learn how LeanLogistics helped Marine Harvest improve their supply chain
- Hear about Norwegian transportation challenges from the Institute of Transport Logistics
- Discover more about the Norwegian seafood industry from Sjomat Norge – the Norwegian Seafood Federation
- Learn about recent trends and market developments from DNB Markets
- Have the opportunity to network with peers in the aquaculture industry in a relaxed environment over lunch or dinner
Presentations will also be given by LeanLogistics senior management describing the features and benefits of the European LeanTMS solution and future product plans.
More information: http://info.leanlogistics.com/aquacultureevent.html To register for the event https://www.surveymonkey.com/r/aquacultureregistration
If the start and end point of a company’s supply chain followed a straight and narrow path, software solutions would be simple to create. In reality, the supply chain looks more like a freeway interchange filled with twist, turns, and crossing lanes. At LeanLogistics, we put our customers in the driver seat steering us toward a software solution to address their logistical speed bumps.
Our latest product addressed the red light issues impacting shippers moving containers over water. LeanGlobal® is designed to streamline global logistics by offering a single platform and workflow. To reach that end goal, we had to begin with a roadmap.
The first step to building a roadmap is to identify an industry problem. We tapped into the LeanLogistics transportation network to talk to existing customers, industry analysts, managed transportation services professionals, and partner organizations to identify barriers slowing down global shipments.
Global Shipping Issues Identified:
1) Inefficient Processes: A lot of shippers resort to manual processes to procure capacity and communicate shipment details with the many parties involved in ocean movements.
2) Access to Information: To plan and execute an international shipment, shippers need to access many different sources for information including trade compliance, sailing schedules, requesting bookings, import and export filing, and tracking.
3) Drayage Management: Inability to synchronize ocean booking with drayage loads for seamless movement between land and sea.
4)Visibility: A lot of shippers are in the dark when trying to track containers.
5) Freight Audit and Settlement: Manual processing of ocean invoices leads to inaccuracies and delays.
After validating the industry problems and creating a business case, the product management team went to work creating a vision for technology that could address these specific problems. From the vision, we created a functionality footprint—an inventory of all the moving parts needed to make up the engine of LeanGlobal.
A key part of the roadmap is identifying the functionality our development team should begin writing code for first. The primary driver for prioritization is always the value the item will bring to our customers. There is no shortage of ideas we want to deliver, so we look to maximize each release with quality, and fully functional modules that bring immediate value to the market.
In the case of LeanGlobal, we added functionality to address the barriers and streamline the entire process. Shippers can plan and book full container load ocean moves directly with the vessel carrier or freight forwarder, maintain full visibility of each container from pickup to delivery, and ensure compliance with international trade laws—all on one platform and in one workflow. This not only saves money and internal resources, but also reduces the opportunity for human error.
The product management team is proud of LeanGlobal, and looking forward to watching its functionality help shippers improve productivity and reduce the bottom line. Our roadmaps never reach the finish line. They continue to evolve as new issues impact the market. Each successful solution keeps the LeanLogistics team revved up for the next mile in our journey to build better supply chains together.
Wherever you look today, you see overnight successes. The latest app becomes all the rage on Android and IPhone’s. A video goes viral and creates a cult following. A little known startup suddenly gets acquired by Microsoft for a sum three times your company’s size. All of those can happen in the blink of an eye. In today’s hyper connected world, it’s amazing how quickly fame and glory arrive, yet can so quickly fade.
Fortunately, that’s not how the supply chain works. There aren’t too many supply chain professionals who watch their network undergo extreme changes in a matter of moments (with the exception of natural disasters of course). Having a single truck delayed does not tank a business plan; neither does a single delighted customer bullet proof a company’s logistical success. Supply chains are extremely resilient, but are often asked to shoulder major changes. And when it comes to scaling that supply chain, it definitely does not happen overnight.
Scalability in the supply chain requires expertise and direction. Not all supply chains need to scale in terms of size, but maybe it’s a matter of scaling back certain elements and scaling up others. Mode shifts are a perfect example of this. As intermodal continues to gain traction and unseasonably low capacity remains, being able to scale in different ways gives the supply chain options to retain its original purpose and goals.
Goals. Sometimes that’s all practictioners have to go on, relying on their partners and suppliers to deliver the results. Some will trust in the process, waving contracts and service expectations in front of their constituents. Others, like CHEP, take a proactive approach to managing partners with technology. In this way, positive results are scaled and negative outcomes are reduced.
Although it’s clear you can’t scale a supply chain overnight, there are some ways to help it along. In previous blog posts, we’ve discussed getting your RFP in better shape or planning for seasonal shifts as ways to scale your supply chain, but there is another element to consider. If we go back to our first three examples in this post, they have a common theme: technology. In today’s world, always-on SAAS infrastructure is table stakes for scaling for long term success. Startups don’t buy servers anymore, they buy server space and time. Storage of secure documents is often housed thousands of miles away to a data center able to take an 8.9 on the Richter scale. It’s scalable and configurable. Whether you need a lot or a little today and need the exact opposite tomorrow, a SAAS model delivers. If you’re not there, it’s okay. Chiquita had to take a journey, too. Now, SAAS is part of their world. Your supply chain might not be as complex as dealing with highly perishable food, but if a 115 year old company can adopt a scalable SAAS solution. so can your company.
Who knows what tomorrow will bring? For those looking to scale their supply chain (up, down, or sideways), challenges lie ahead. Those challenges are just that, a challenge. With a combination of technology and expertise, plus a little bit of time, those supply chains will scale with sustainable growth. When those goals are met and the company lauds it as an overnight success, the supply chain folks will know how it really happened.
In today’s constantly changing market, managing transportation is a key factor for a more efficient and cohesive supply chain. Many companies still use manual methods to manage freight, relying on their internal expertise to execute their supply chain. With faxes, spreadsheets and phones, transportation departments are prone to duplicated efforts, human error, loss and most importantly, lack of visibility in transportation processes. Then there are companies leveraging transportation technology, but require expertise and special skills to minimize costs of shipments while maximizing service. With changes in business models through acquisitions/mergers, fluctuating fuel costs, and a fast-growing marketplace, supply chain teams need to focus on their strategic operations and determine if outsourcing the transportation function can actually increase efficiencies. Although that decision can be difficult, the company must still move products, be cost-effective, meet service levels and satisfy customers.
Management of a company’s supply chain is an important aspect of a corporate strategy. Without the specific knowledge, resources and bandwidth, transportation is an area that can drastically affect a company’s bottom line and increase customer satisfaction. For many companies, outsourcing the transportation process to supply chain experts who are highly skilled and proficient with technology gives companies the ability to focus on their core competency, which is not always transportation. Instead of spending hours and budget on reoccurring training to drive the department to become tech savvy, by streamlining transportation management, companies gain more efficient processes while lowering costs. The winning combination of professional logisticians, proven supply chain processes, and industry-leading SaaS software enables companies to improve transportation without jeopardizing the core business offering.
Managed Transportation Services from LeanLogistics utilizes LeanTMS, a SaaS software application, combined with a team of experienced logistics professionals to create the optimal solution for companies seeking to future-proof transportation functions. Unlike other outsourced transportation services, LeanLogistics offers both the expertise and industry-leading software to support processes in a flexible and affordable fashion. Managed Transportation Services is nimble enough to support companies that move the transportation department inside and/or outside of the corporate umbrella, as needed to cover employee and marketplace changes.
Who are you?
Chances are you’ve heard the question before, or some version of it. And you probably offered your name, followed by some extra information about yourself, explaining your reason for being there with the person posing the question.
Generally speaking, the situation guides the response:
“Who are you?”
“I’m Jane Doe, here for my appointment.”
“Who are you?”
“I’m John Smith; we spoke on the phone.”
“Who are you?”
“I’m Jake, from State Farm.”
These are simple answers, easily defined because they are specific by necessity. But how do you answer that question free of context? That answer is your brand.
We all know that branding is important for companies. We talk about trustworthy brands, good brands, well-made brands, brand loyalty, and on and on. A company with a well-established brand is one that we recognize; we can sing the jingles and know the slogans.
Like a company, you have a professional brand. And like a company, your brand might be made up of the high quality work you’ve done in the past; maybe it’s your social awareness or charm and wit. And just like you might want to work for a company because of their employment brand, companies should seek you out because of your brand.
Clearly articulating who you are as a teammate makes it easier for the companies you want to work for to find you. You can highlight your past accomplishments while also aiming for the next step in your career. It ensures that in your professional community, you’re thought of highly, seen as a competent and valuable addition to a team, if not an outright expert. A personal brand isn’t boasting; it’s a strategic demonstration of what you bring to the table.
We’re not suggesting you write your own jingle (although top marks for originality if you have one). As individuals, we’re not afforded commercial spots at prime time to share who we are. But we have ways of getting our brands out there.
LinkedIn isn’t Facebook – this isn’t where you post pictures of your weekend barbeque or funny cat gifs. This is where you present the history of your brand. It’s where you demonstrate the quality of work you provide, the consistency of your work ethic, and even give out free samples, depending on what you do. You can do a little piggy-backing on the corporate brand(s) that you’ve been associated with, and if your brand is strong, your company will be more than happy to have its brand bolstered by yours.
Twitter isn’t quite as professionally-driven as LinkedIn, but if you want to be a player, you’ve got to learn the game. What better way to learn the rules than in spurts of 140 characters or less? Many professional communities have active presences on Twitter, where you can follow industry leaders and gain some knowledge and insights about the latest and greatest in your world. It’s easy to expand your network with Twitter, as well.
User groups are generally organized by technology companies to bolster their own brand. They are also great ways to network, to learn more, and to spread the word about you. These types of meet-and-greets are generally safe spaces to perfect your answer to “who are you.” They might provide common, industry-specific branding terms that you can use when in doubt. You can also increase your knowledge and skills, your audience, and subsequently your personal brand awareness.
There’s something about having a piece of paper with your name on it that just feels great, maybe empowering. It’s also a fantastic way to strengthen your brand. Companies do it, too – Energy Star Certified, anyone? Generally backed by a third party, a certification is just a way of telling your own company, as well as prospective employers, that you have demonstrated the quality of your brand.
It’s important for your employer to support your personal brand. If you look good, they will look good, so it’s in their best interest to help you be the best. That might be in the form of tuition reimbursement or training. It might be inviting teammates to share their ideas outside of the four walls of their institution. At the very least, being associated with an employer’s strong corporate brand can lend credit to your own.
The other benefit of all of these outlets is that, if you’re unsure how to answer the question, you can see how the leaders in your industry answer it. Emulate what they’ve done before you and alter it when you’re ready, make it your own, and interact with the professional community with that brand ever in mind.
Your brand may change over time, and that’s ok. It happens. But if you build a strong brand out of the gate, it will be easier to shift with the currents of life that may take you to different shores. Regardless of those changes, own it; own your brand.
I’m a self-styled commercial system polymath; I’m a Salesforce #AwesomeAdmin and #GirlyGeek, marketing ops connoisseur, and occasional blogger. English major, converted and data analyst (archaeologist?).
And you are?