02 August 2011

The Dangerous Dichotomy—Part 2


In the preceding article we discussed how—all too frequently—management inadvertently creates a schizophrenic organization by assigning responsibility for increasing revenues to one part of the organization while assigning cost-cutting to another part of the organization. Usually the other part of the organization is everyone else—everyone not assigned to the task of increasing revenues.

What happens in such cases, is that the business is driven to a dichotomy that tends to pull the organization apart.


Of course, this effect of pulling the organization apart is entirely unintentional. Management wants to move the business toward greater profits and profitability. Sales and marketing—those generally commissioned with increasing revenues want the organization to succeed and grow. And, all the others, whose marching orders are to cut costs also really want the company to find success. So they are doing their best to keep costs down.

Nevertheless, seeming unreasonable demands made by sales and marketing are a nearly constant irritation to inventory and production managers. And what appears to be the simple inability of folks in purchasing, production, scheduling, warehouse and shipping to get their house in order so that sales and marketing can achieve their goals of increasing revenues is a cause of very real frustrations.

So, even though everyone in the organization really wants to move the organization toward success, it is clear that no one in it has a view of what it takes to make the whole organization—the whole “system”—move in the desired direction. Those who are instructed to “increase revenues” have no real view or interest in holding the line on costs or operating expenses. But, what is worse, those who have been instruction to “cut costs” generally have no visibility into what it might take to increase revenues. They are not privy to the “levers” that might affect increasing sales. Plus, the various departments involved in “cost cutting” are quite often, themselves, fragmented in their view of what it takes to be effective.

A simple example

Let’s take one simple example relative to supply chain thinking.


Most businesses vastly underestimate their losses from what they too frequently believe is a good thing. When they say, “Folks, we sold out of product X!” they are frequently thinking: “This is great! ‘Sold-out’ means we have lower inventories! It means we sold more than we expected to sell!” or similar thoughts.

But look at the results of out-of-stock conditions in the example above.

First, everyone needs to recognize that the things that “sell-out” are the most popular items. Second, because these are the most popular items, there is no reliable way to know how many more units the firm might have sold if they had had more units in stock. Certainly extrapolating from “average sales” is insufficient.

In our example (above), a product comes in five styles (‘A’ through ‘E’). The firm chose to stock 280 of each of these five styles and the quantities actually sold are found in the “Qty Sold” column.

In our scenario we are supplying what cannot actually be known—that is, the actual market potential (“Mkt Potential”) for each style. In this case, the firm ended up selling-out of two styles (‘C’ and ‘D’), while being overstocked on Styles ‘A’, ‘B’ and ‘E’. Extrapolating from “Average Sales” one might believe that the firm lost $5,400 in revenues. However, when calculated from “market potential” for each style, the actual amount surrendered in lost revenues due to being sold-out calculates to $12,900—more than double the estimated losses from averages.

Of course, this lost-sales number is a guess—since there is no reliable way to know the actual market demand for a sold-out item. But, what is not a guess is that when a business is out-of-stock on a popular item, it is almost certainly also losing sales on other items when customers go elsewhere for the items they are seeking. Plus, every time a customers goes shopping somewhere else, the “out-of-stock” business stands a good chance of losing the customer to another supplier.

Doubtless, reducing out-of-stock occurrences will increase revenues. That will help satisfy the sales and marketing team in our troubling dichotomy above. But, the question remains, can that be done in such a way that will satisfy what should be everyone’s goal: helping the business make more money tomorrow than it is making today?

[To be continued]

No comments: