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Operations Management
How do you manage risk with contractors in your supply chain?

Top Answer: Good background checks, and follow up on all references 

How will you address the global supply chain & chip shortages that may affect your IT & networking infrastructure for 2022?

Top Answer: Switches have been affected a lot by supply chain issues. I am currently seeing 6-12 months wait times on some vendors. A whole series is not available, and sometimes you need to move to a more expensive model to get something sooner. Some firewall models have been affected as well for us. I manage this by working with multiple vendors (always have preferred and backup vendors) and keeping open communication about what we need with the vendor reps. We have equipment that we regularly order every few weeks, so we keep communication open with the vendor reps/account managers. Often they provide us with a heads up about local quantities available, what models are low and will likely have issues with stock in the near future. Be ready to be flexible. For example, when I am building new storage or HCI solution, I don't ask for Vendor A only on the switching side but ask about what is the ETA of each switch vendor and then adjust the design/specs accordingly to what is available. Sometimes buying from a different location (country) gets the equipment faster, so if you do have offices in multiple countries, check local availability as well. Add extra planning time. I try to add additional six months to my standard planning/order time. We have multiple stocking locations spread across the continent, so we often order a lot of inventory and stock it to have what we need.

What are some specific impacts of supply chain issues over the past year?

Top Answer: Here is my short list:  - IT Budgets: These have been unpredictable and affect the ability to prioritize and deliver. Internally network items, conference building, laptop refresh (hiring although not supply chain), etc are being priced at 140% of some items than were thought in the budget planning a year ago. This may lead to more agile, more frequent cycles.  - Procurement methods: For the items above, ordering from your normal supplier doesn't guarantee you will receive (or in full) the item. IT operations are ordering from alternate sources such as Amazon prioritizing time over price and contract.  -Contract Structuring- If you are buying a component for production from a supplier, you may have net 30 or below terms to get some sort of quick payment incentive. That's great in a normal market, but this is not a normal market. With lead times of months, you may pay for the item well before it is received restricting cash flow. New supply chain finance markets (I lend in these) have opened to bridge the gap with favorable terms for both. Also, breaches of contracts have become more common specifically with carriers. This is causing exponential effort to procure shippers for loads when having to tender multiple sources per shipment.  -ERP modernization needs have been highlighted: The system has been set up to prioritize backlogged orders. That works in normal times, but not in disruptive times with unprecedented consumer behavior and supply chain woes. Additionally, the data that feeds in to the algorithms and configuration + customization has long been left on the vine without updated as it wasn't an issue. Customers had product and inventory was on hand to sell and produce. This all must be updated as well.  - Rise of Value Chain: the entire company organization structure and culture could be changing due to the change of supply chain from being an operations (back office) function to a value drive and competitive advantage. This breaks down the function by function model with individual KPI's and data in to connected and collaborative machine that is truly cross function and able to answer questions of " what is the sales impact if my supplier delivers only 20% of the requested components." It is also the reason there is now the role Chief Supply Chain Officer - Visibility: In order to answer the questions above the company may need to add a route optimization software or other solutions, but the crux is that all of the data from the entire company is required to answer the above question. What is often found is silo'd data that isn't catalogued and there is no way to view it. So dashboards, data governance, catalogs, and an overall intelligence solution with AI/ML.   -Process Optimization - This is a great way to reduce costs and act as a labor retention tool. Process mining can be utilized to understand how many additional clicks, monitor if cold storage item is left out to long, and even understand why this A/P process takes 4X another region.    Innovation/DX/ESG Acceleration to do more with less, house the data and be competitive utilizing things like IoT, 5G, Drones, etc

ERP Usage and ChallengesERP Usage and Challenges

How are decision-makers using Enterprise Resource Planning (ERP) tools? Benchmark with your peers.

Are standard operating procedures (SOPs) valued across industries?

Top Answer: Coming from biotech in pharma, everything we did had to be done according to standard operating procedures (SOPs). I couldn't build a system without having an SOP with the hardening guidelines and everything I had to do for that server, or the work stations. Everything had SOPs and change control, and it was all documented. Everything had a remediation or response plan. When I went into software, it was as if all those practices went out the window because people didn’t care about them. It's hard to walk into those companies and say, "Hey, we have to follow a process here." They're like, "Nope. We have to get this pumped out in two weeks and you're not going to slow us down." That's often the biggest challenge.

If you are a current SAP customer, when do you plan to migrate to SAP S/4HANA?

Top Answer: No plan to migrate soon.

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Testing
What is life like for an IT leader after the company goes IPO?

Top Answer: Being an IT leader is always challenging and after an IPO there are new challenges to deal with. I always enjoy resolving business problems through technology automation. We are still trying to do a lot in one or two quarters, because we now have to produce more detailed metrics as a public company and meet all our goals on time, while also passing compliance audits. There is a lot of internal pressure on the sales and marketing teams, so I'm trying to prioritize critical business process automation in order to figure out how quickly I can enable them, as well as how quickly we can address the technical debt. That's the core focus now. We’re also working on improving the infrastructure to drive a better employee experience: What can we do to enable our employees, so they can work with our customers at speed? What automations can I put in place now to scale the organization to the next level and how can we make the company more profitable through tech stack optimization.

What was it like for your team leading up to your company’s IPO?

Top Answer: It was an incredible experience and a big Aha moment. I led these systems implementations multiple times from quote to cash, including CPQ and billing, revenue recognition, putting a new ERP system in place along with procurement automation, and automating our customer provisioning.  A unique challenge we had at UserTesting was that we had to do all these things in an eight-month timeframe while also evolving processes and creating enablement materials. It was a lot of pressure for sure. We were working with multiple implementation partners at the same time to ensure we didn’t miss any timelines, which was a risk as they all had to align on the deliverables. But we were also laser-focused on not compromising on quality, which was a big challenge and huge accomplishment. I had to focus on my team's blockers and motivate them to deliver the projects successfully while working closely with our executive team to get their buy-in on decisions fast. We had to be sure we were giving them the right visibility into where we are on the projects, the risks we were seeing and how I planned to remediate those issues. That was critical. Every week, we sent reports to the executive team to get their alignment. If some things had to shift, then I’d put that plan into motion very quickly because there was no room for missing our deadlines. Ideally, as an IT leader, you can provide a business justification if you do miss a deadline and then still go on with your work. But this time we did not have that option, because we could not go IPO unless I put these systems in place. The executives and board members were not ready for the IPO timeline to change, so there was a lot of pressure. But in the end it was all worth it because we accomplished a major milestone for the organization and added huge business value by optimizing the deal process and reducing financial close time.

How have you approached your cloud strategy?

Top Answer: TechnePlus as a system integrator focuses on new technologies that are at an early stage of adoption. This strategy has allowed us to position ourselves differently. In the cloud space, we focus on modern data management and analytics. More than 90% of generated data is unstructured, so storing, organizing and making it usable for the business has been a matter of concern for a long time. Data is important, but every organization cannot afford the associated investment. These days, more and more companies are showing interest in moving to the cloud, and data management and analytics are becoming a default ask. We observed a market gap in the data lake space and now we are among the few system integrators who have successfully executed data management projects on lakehouse architecture.  With lakehouse architecture it is now possible to manage and use the data in a warehouse-like environment using low-cost storage like data lakes. Data lakehouses also ensure that teams have the most complete and up-to-date data available for data science, machine learning and business analytics projects. Our cloud strategy to operate in a specialized area is helping us build an identity for which we are getting recognition.

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