My Story: Progressively Senior Finance Roles
Early Days: Mergers and Acquisitions
I began my finance career in M&A (mergers and acquisitions) advisory, which means I assisted clients in either buying or selling business interests. I participated in over 30 closed transactions, with the largest being a $2 billion acquisition of a multinational business in the petroleum industry.
Supply Chain Finance
Seeking diversity in experience, I accepted a corporate role in Supply Chain Finance. My team built reporting for key cost drivers for our supply chain, which consisted of 120 manufacturing plants with combined capacity of 4 billion kilograms of chemical production. I quickly learned that even a small finance team could generate incredible value in a supply chain, as even slight increase in forecast accuracy could yield dramatic reduction in inventory waste.
Division CFO: It All Comes Together
I accepted role as division CFO of an industrial business with $150 million in annual revenue. I spearheaded efforts to reduce material waste through the re-design of our sales and operations planning process.
By aligning our sales forecast with the plant, we reduced excess inventory and eliminated nearly $2 million in annual inventory waste.
What I Learned at Each Step
"I partner with you to develop a simple, yet effective demand planning process that is aligned to your way of doing things."
Case Study: Inventory Out of Control
Problem: Excess Inventory + Unfilled Orders
A multinational industrial business continued to accumulate an excessive amount of unsold inventory. As this inventory expired, the business had to regularly write off and dispose of expired product.
The losses from expired inventory exceeded 5% of sales in some countries.
In spite of the excessive inventory levels, many product lines remained on back order, with customers often waiting months for order fulfillment.
My Approach: Test Entire S&OP Process
I audited the entire sales and operations process, all the way from the sales pipeline to the production plan at the plant. I compared the reported sales gains with invoiced sales, and measured the accuracy of both the demand plan and supply plan.
What I Found
Finding #1: Sales Team Overstating Wins
The sales team was under pressure to report new account gains, and was often overstating the size of the win. I compared reported gains against actual invoices, and I identified $40 of actual gains for every $100 in reported gains. Thus, reported account wins were overstated by 250% percent.
The reported gains were being fed into the demand plan, so the demand plan overstated the quantity of product actually needed. As a result, the demand forecast was only 40% accurate.
Finding #2: System Errors Impacted Supply Plan
I reviewed the plant’s supply plan (also referred to as the production plan), and quickly realized the supply plan was not aligned with the demand plan. The plant was producing SKUs that were not needed by the business, and not making SKUs that were in high demand.
After some research, we found the plant’s ERP was relying on some outdated routines to generate the supply plan. This was causing errors in the production plan, such that the plant was making the wrong quantities for many SKUs.
Total Impact: 25% Accuracy
When the inaccuracies of the demand plan (which was 40% accurate) were combined with the above system errors at the plant, the plant simply was not making the correct amounts of product for the plant. In fact, I calculated the accuracy at about 25%.
To illustrate the impact of this: If the business needed 100 units of a specific product in a given month, the plant was either making 25 units or 175 units. Some products were constantly under-produced, which yielded low customer fill rate. Other products were constantly over-produced, resulting in excess inventory that eventually expired