<![CDATA[amyjonescoaching.com - Articles]]>Wed, 29 Apr 2020 17:57:39 +0100Weebly<![CDATA[What if your supplier goes bankrupt?]]>Fri, 19 Jul 2019 08:45:07 GMThttp://amyjonescoaching.com/articles/what-if-your-supplier-goes-bankrupt
It can and does happen, usually without warning, and often when least expected. So, what to do? Those around you may be pressing for immediate and miraculous solutions, but the first step is to keep calm and assess the situation quickly and thoroughly.

In making the initial assessment and taking first actions, consider the following:

  • Are there components or tooling belonging to your company which are on the premises of the supplier? Your company might have tooling, finished goods or semi-finished goods at the supplier premises. This is important because in the event that a company goes into administration, often all assets are frozen and cannot be removed from site. This could have serious implications on your order deliveries.

  • Does the supplier have intellectual property or data belonging to your company, or which your company relies on (for example software)? You need to understand what the supplier may have in terms of data which your company owns, or data which your company relies on, and take appropriate action (possibly legal action or agreements) to secure any critical intellectual property or data.

  • Get in touch with the Administrators as soon as possible, and preferably in their native language. You might have a better chance of getting possession of your goods if you are able to speak to the right person and present a clear case of ownership.

  • Are there any health and safety risks or implications? For example, if a building company which has been doing work on your site goes into administration, is the site secure, have they left dangerous equipment or chemicals which need to be dealt with?

  • Are there alternative suppliers which can deliver the same product or service? And if there are, do they have capacity for additional work? Remember, that the supplier’s other customers will also be looking for alternatives, and in a limited market, the alternative capacity can get booked up quickly.

  • How many days of stock do you have, and how long will it take to find and qualify an alternative source. This will give you a feel for how much time or how long your gap in supply could be. Make sure that any replacement supply is properly qualified according to your company standards. There may be huge time pressure to find a replacement, but while you might agree a way to expedite a qualification, you should not skip this in favour of a quick solution when your quality and reputation depend on it.

  • What are the potential consequences of a possible shortage in supply? This evaluation (including a financial impact assessment), even if only ballpark, is important for understanding the importance of the situation and for allocation of resource if needed to solve the issue.

  • Are other business units affected? It is important to know if any other business units or divisions in your company are affected, not only because it will be important to coordinate and collaborate with them for a solution, but also because if they have stock this may help you considerably.
Each situation is unique and, in each case, there will be further questions to consider, but just from the list above, it is clear that good planning and communication is essential for organising the work to address a supplier bankruptcy.
I faced a supplier going into administration just as I was appointed into a new role as Procurement Director. In this case, the supplier was a sole source of a particular varnish for which they owned the formula. Collecting the data as described above was crucial for being able to properly understand the situation, the risks and the actions necessary to secure a new supply and deliver the projects dependent on this varnish. We solved this situation by:

  • Quickly negotiating a legal agreement with the supplier that they would disclose their varnish formula, in order that we could find and qualify a new supplier based on the existing recipe.
  • Identifying the available stocks in various worldwide locations versus the demand across several business units.
  • Determining a suitable qualification process, and the time required to do this.
We had stock to satisfy the demand for 3-4 months, but needed 5-6 months to find and qualify new suppliers. In this race against time, the engagement of all the stakeholders proved critical, as it was the Material Laboratory Manager, who was able to identify (and verify) that the varnish stock (those which were not close to shelf life expiry) could be diluted in order to extend the usage while still meeting the functional specification of the product.
With a good initial assessment, quick actions, and a well-coordinated project plan, we were able to find and successfully qualify an alternative before the stock ran out.
Prevention / Mitigation
It might not always work out so well, and it would be best to avoid such situations if at all possible in the first place. Therefore, when considering prevention, the list of possible mitigations is endless, but here are a few points to consider:

  • Maintain a risk list of single or sole source suppliers, with risk mitigations where possible. Avoid evaluating supplier risk based on magnitude of spend, as smaller suppliers may be more at risk of bankruptcy and may supply more niche products or services which are harder to source elsewhere.
  • In cases of exceptionally critical suppliers, it may be worth considering if it would make sense to try to buy the supplier, but this very much depends on financial constraints and company strategy, and privately-owned companies may not be for sale (at any price!).
  • Keeping stock of critical components may be a strategy to mitigate risk, but it depends on the cost of parts and level of risk in terms of not holding stock. If it is not possible to keep adequate stock, as a minimum identify potential alternative suppliers in advance.
  • Be mindful of insisting on long payment terms for small suppliers. Cashflow problems can put even a normally profitable business into a financially critical situation.
  • If your supplier has intellectual property which is critical to your business (such as software coding), set up an escrow agreement which allows any information to be held by agreement of the parties by a neutral third party (such as a solicitor). Information subject to the agreement will only be released according to the agreement upon the fulfilment of its terms (such as bankruptcy).
  • Ensure all tooling or other property belonging to your company, but which is kept on site at your supplier is clearly labelled with ownership details, and is logged in a register at your company and also at your supplier.
  • Learn about bankruptcy laws in the countries of your suppliers. For example, in Switzerland, debt restructuring proceedings (similar to Chapter 11 in the USA) may allow for a continuation of the debtor's business activities for a limited time, rather than immediate bankruptcy. The additional time may even mean that a company can be found which is willing to buy the supplier and take on their debts.
©2019 Amy Jones

About me
I have over 20 years’ experience in Procurement/Supply Chain and Finance, I work full time in my own business as a Supply Chain / Procurement Consultant and Trainer and Executive Coach.

<![CDATA[Is success all about mindset?]]>Tue, 04 Jun 2019 09:47:15 GMThttp://amyjonescoaching.com/articles/is-success-all-about-mindset
If you read some of the articles on LinkedIn, they will have you believe that finding success is only about mindset. I believe it is more complex, the following factors are, in my view, equally and in some case more critical to success.
1. Environment. If I take a fish out of water, it doesn’t matter what its mindset is, it isn’t going to survive (at least not without thousands of years of evolution to become an amphibian). How many people are working in stressful open plan offices, getting up at 4am to catch flights, not having enough time to exercise or get sunlight, dealing with unrealistic targets and trying to balance family with work? We weren’t designed for this, and while we have to find coping mechanisms as best we can, your environment significantly impacts on performance and success. 

2. Skill and Knowledge. There is a level of confidence which comes only from having built experience and skills from trying out what works and what doesn’t. This doesn’t happen over-night, and may involve studying to get qualifications and further knowledge. 

3. Support. How much can you achieve alone without collaborating with other people? Probably quite a lot, but until you have people surrounding you that you can trust and rely on, your full potential will be limited. I have done my best work when I had an ace team who I could completely rely on and who were experts in their field. 

In all of these cases, it could be argued that the right mindset is the starting point for addressing the gap and changing it. I would agree with this, but probably the ‘I have the ability and determination to change this’ is more fitting than a ‘be positive, grin and bear it’ mindset when you are dealing with challenges such as finding or creating a new work environment. And for continuing success, a can-do attitude, confidence and optimistic outlook will help enormously, and all the more so if it is backed up with strong foundations of a good environment, skills, knowledge and support.
What else do you need for success? I would love to hear from you.

©2019 Amy Jones

About me
I am a certified and accredited Associate Executive Coach with the Academy of Executive Coaching. I have over 20 years’ experience in Procurement/Supply Chain and Finance, and I now work in my own business as a Coach, Consultant and Trainer.
I support professionals, particularly (but not only) in the field of Procurement and Supply Chain to develop their career, skills, teams and strategy.
<![CDATA[5 THINGS RUNNING HAS TAUGHT ME ABOUT WORK]]>Tue, 21 May 2019 08:39:21 GMThttp://amyjonescoaching.com/articles/5-things-running-has-taught-me-about-work
From the comments on my last article, 5 things you can do when you feel overwhelmed, the most popular thing to do were going for a run, followed by a cup of tea, flap about, write a list and play the ukulele (not necessarily in that order)!
Motivated by these positive comments on running, I decided to do a half marathon at the weekend. I should clarify at this point, that I’m not a great runner – think Labrador rather than Greyhound. But I am keen (Labrador again), and I do love a challenge.
During the long kilometres of the run, I had time to think, and several similarities between running and work came up:
1. Fuel up Having not yet mastered the art of running and drinking without choking, I had to stop a couple of times during the race to fuel up with water and isotonic drink, but ultimately it helped me go the distance, feel and perform better. In work, training and learning act as a fuel for performance, for the next steps and the inputs needed to keep delivering. Just like having to stop to fuel up, take time out for the training courses and learning periods. 

2. Enjoy the moment. Along the run I saw the snow topped mountains, some lambs jumping, I could smell the fresh water of the lake. In work there may be opportunities arising which you can miss if you don’t look around. It is also important to maintain a perspective on what is going on so that you can enjoy the moment while not getting bogged down on the enormity of a task or challenge. 

3. People want to support you. On every corner, from bridges and balconies, waving from buses, and popping out from attic windows, there were groups of people cheering and encouraging with ‘hop, hop, hop!’ People want to support, seek them out and let them help you. Encouragement will make you go faster (even when you think you can’t).

4. Steady yourself when the going gets tough. My legs were getting weak and shaky at around 17km, so I eased off a little and just focused on one kilometre at a time, even just one foot in front of the other. Doubts and painful times can threaten to derail efforts, but taking it steady and narrowing the focus can bridge the gap until it gets easier.

5. Keep going because you want to. I wanted to do this run because I want to stay healthy and active now and, in the future, and I like to push my limits from time to time. However, if I would have sensed along the way that my body wasn’t okay, then I would have listened to myself and have had no hesitation to stop. I often hear the phrase ‘never quit’ strongly advocated, whereas my view is keep going if you are doing what you want to do, but if you find you are on a track which is not what you expected or wanted, stop, rethink and change direction. Persist in the things you want to do, what feel right and what works for you. Tenacity is fantastic, as long as it is taking you in the right direction. 

What activities have taught you the most about yourself, your work and your life? Please do share your experiences which have had the biggest influence on your approach to work, I would love to hear them.
©2019 Amy Jones
About me
I am a certified and accredited Associate Executive Coach with the Academy of Executive Coaching.

I have over 20 years’ experience in Procurement/Supply Chain and Finance, and I now work full time in my own business as a Supply Chain / Procurement Consultant and Trainer and Coach.


<![CDATA[5 things to do when you are feeling overwhelmed]]>Fri, 17 May 2019 15:28:23 GMThttp://amyjonescoaching.com/articles/5-things-to-do-when-you-are-feeling-overwhelmed
  1. Identify where the pressure is coming from. Are your own expectations creating pressure, or is the pressure coming from someone else? I know that a high proportion of my pressure is self-generated and mostly unnecessary. But if the pressure is coming from someone else, then it can be worth to spend a bit of time with them to understand their requirement in more detail, and to see if any other options are feasible (such as identifying and delivering the most critical part, followed by the rest at an agreed later date).

  2. Work out what you need. Maybe you need more support, information, time, feedback, sleep, good nutrition… the list is endless. Once you identify what your most pressing needs are, you are in a good position to understand what is driving the feeling of being overwhelmed and taking action to mitigate it.

  3. Take your time. It sounds counter-intuitive, but it is a great strategy. Most likely the feeling of being overwhelmed comes from having too many things going on, all with competing pressures and complexities. This is a lot for your brain to process in one go, and when you take a rushed approach, the likelihood to fall into fight, flight or freeze mode increases dramatically. So, take a break, go for a walk, sleep on it, and let anyone know who is waiting for an answer that you will get back to them in due course.

  4. Break it down into small steps. Some problems seem insurmountable because they are so big and so unwieldy. The first step is the hardest, so if you can just do one small step, then you are well on your way. The second part to this is to map out all the necessary steps required, in sufficient detail such that each step can be followed and completed individually, without having to pay attention to the bigger picture at each and every action point.
  5. Prioritise. Often there are several competing pressures arising at the same time. Working out what to work on first is a critical step in resolving any underlying pressure. And it is not always the case that you should work on the most important and urgent task first. You might need to work on something which is cluttering your thoughts first, in order to make space in your mind for a more complex or creative task.

How to effectively address these steps? There are many ways, but talking through an issue can really help with finding perspective, getting a higher level of awareness, developing ideas, understanding what you really need and even letting off steam. I always find that when I am able to speak my thoughts out loud and share them, they become more fully formed and clarity surfaces.
Please do share your strategies for managing when you are feeling overwhelmed, I would love to hear them. Or if you would like to work with me for coaching, please do get in touch.
©2019 Amy Jones]]>