Tag Archives: Supply

How Do You Manage Customer Change Orders? Three Suggestions

Situation: A mid-sized company has taken over management of the supply chains for several large customers. The products that the company manufactures have long lead times both for sourcing materials and manufacturing customer orders. Sometimes customers either ask for additional production on an existing order in process, or ask for deliveries to be spread beyond contracted timelines. Either situation has a significant impact on the cost of producing the order and company profitability. How do you manage customer change orders?

Advice from the CEOs:

  • The issue is one of managing contracts and customer expectations. Because this is hurting the company, prime the customers now that things will need to change in the future. Depending upon the level of comfort the response can be reactive or proactive.
  • A proactive response: because this happens with some frequency, establish a change order schedule and share this with the customers. Your message will be that you are happy to accommodate changes in orders, but you need to recover the cost of these changes in order to be able to continue supplying the customer. Include the change order schedule in future customer purchase contracts. This may cause them to have second thoughts about requesting changes in orders.
  • A reactive response: the next time a customer makes these demands the response can be: “We’ll take care of you this time but when we draft our next contract we have to adjust the terms of the contract so that it is a win-win.”
  • The appropriate response depends on value of each customer’s business to the company – both revenue and profit – and your confidence in the relationship with the customer.

How Do You Optimize Supply Agreements? Seven Guidelines

Situation: A company wants to add off-shore manufactures to its supply chain. This is a new experience and the CEO seeks guidance on how to negotiate supply agreements. They want win-win agreements with their new suppliers. How do you optimize supply agreements?

Advice from the CEOs:

  • No supplier relationship is risk-free, especially if you are a small company. Be sure to cover ownership of new IP developed during the relationship. For example, assure that the supplier adds no new developments without communicating these to you in writing. You may want to fund new developments selectively to assure protection of your IP. This is essential if you need to switch or add suppliers rapidly to maintain adequate supply.
  • A service agreement is not always about cost. It’s about deliverables, and quid pro quo is important.
  • Manage your key supplier relationships as diligently as you manage your key client relationships. They are equally critical.
  • In a contract negotiation between supplier and OEM or customer, both sides need to clarify customer needs and supplier capabilities. The greater the transparency on expectations, deliverables, and contingencies, the better the agreement and contract.
  • In negotiating an agreement with a Chinese company, make the enforcement jurisdiction either Hong Kong or Macao. Why? So that courts can enforce terms of the agreement on the Chinese party in the case of a dispute.
  • Post-termination obligations are a key to any negotiation – you want this clarified in advance.
  • Contracts serve two purposes: a legal tool, and a way to drive behavior. They provide an opportunity to assure that both parties are on the same page and, under the best circumstances, serve as process documents.

Special thanks to Bijan Dastmalchi of Symphony Consulting for his contribution to this discussion.

How Do You Bridge The Supply Demand Gap?

Interview with Jim Hogan, CEO, SView LLC

Situation: The rapid evolution of mobile devices creates new opportunities to build mobile enterprise application businesses. However for businesses there is no clear path to mobilizing business applications. How do you bridge the gap between supply and demand in mobile enterprise apps?

Advice:

  • There are three legs to the stool of a successful SMB business model: developer platform, go to market strategy, and licensing and maintenance sales strategy. There is a consolidation play available for a small company that can generate traction in all three.
  • As to developer platforms, Microsoft originally got traction for Windows by being maniacal about building great developer relationships. Over time they leveraged this and just got better and better.
    • There are several platforms available that show promise, including Rhomobile, Mobile Nation HQ, and Appcelerator.
    • All are small now – in the $1-20 million revenue range. Their principal challenge is identifying a viable go to market strategy.
    • Another platform that shows promise is IBM’s Eclipse IDE.
  • Next is go to market strategies. Yahoo recently launched a search engine for mobile apps in Yahoo for Mobile. This is important to the creation of a viable market place for apps regardless of platform. If a viable platform developer can do a deal to generate a market for business apps this will go a long way to developing a successful go to market strategy.
  • The third leg, development of a long-term licensing and maintenance sales strategy, will most likely occur through acquisition of a company with the first two pieces. The lead would be an initial developer platform but could spin off to others.
    • Apple has started looking into this play with its iCloud strategy; the challenge for Apple will be making it enterprise-friendly.
    • Who else could do this? RIM and Microsoft both have a long history serving business customers, huge customer bases and  and the marketing capabilities to support mobile business applications. The wild card may be HP – currently the largest hardware purveyor in the enterprise and consumer space, and with the new WebOs platform from their purchase of Palm
  • It will be fascinating to watch how this market develops.

You can contact Jim Hogan at jahogan@jahogan.net

Key Words: Mobile, Device, Enterprise, Application, App, Opportunity, Scalable, B2C, Gap, Supply, Demand, Developer, Platform, Go to Market, Licensing, Maintenance Sales, Rhomobile, Mobile Nation HQ, Appcelerator, Microsoft, Yahoo, RIM, HP, Palm