James Saunders, Director of Business Planning at Hallmark Cards, spoke to Hugh Williams, Managing Director of Hughenden Consulting, about their Supply Chain planning project:
What were the business drivers that led you to search for a supply chain consultancy service?
James Saunders: In 2005 we invested in software to improve forecasting and inventory management, our business model had changed from purely supplying smaller shops and being a dominant player, to supplying the grocery sector. This meant that our business model needed to change to support a far greater demand on service.
What we found was that the software alone wasn't delivering the anticipated benefits and that we needed to focus on the people and processes. We had too much stock and were spending too much on throwing away redundant stock, while service was not as good as it needed to be.
We then started phase 2 of the improvement project, which meant reviewing business processes, educating the team and effecting culture changes.
What were the critical requirements around the project?
JS: In order to effect the above changes, particularly around the primary business objective of improving the service to our customers, we either needed to spend a huge sum of money on additional inventory, or a smaller amount of money on a business change programme. We wanted to get to the point where we had the right people, doing the right thing, with the right tools.
Why did you select Hughenden Consulting above other providers in the marketplace?
JS: The software company helped us by recommending Hughenden Consulting, and one other provider, to help us address these problems as it was clear that process improvement was needed We evaluated both providers, and selected Hughenden Consulting as we felt they clearly had the deeper knowledge and experience as well as a proven track record in what we needed.
They didn't overwhelm with sales patter, they gave us practical help and advice on the best way forward - essentially we bought into the people we met and their way of working.
What benefits have you seen since working with Hughenden Consulting?
JS: We are definitely still in the improvement stage, however we have achieved some significant benefits already. We have our highest ever levels of forecast accuracy, and our lowest ever inventory level (50% against where we were five years ago) and lowest obsolescence . At the same time, we have achieved this whilst also achieving the highest levels of productivity ever, with availability now at 98-99%.
Ultimately we have increased control over the business, and are well on our way to not only improving our business, but increasing the satisfaction of our customers.
About Hughenden Consulting:
Hughenden Consulting is a specialist consultancy, focused on the processes of Supply Chain Planning. They are experts in a very specific field of Supply Chain, specialising in Sales Forecasting, Inventory Planning, Production Planning & Scheduling, Materials Planning and Sales & Operations Planning - all the areas that are recognised as critical contributors to the financial performance of a business. They have long-term partnerships with their clients, helping them, through a combination of consultancy and education, to institute continuous and sustained change. Hughenden Consulting believe that Supply Chain Planning is an area where change takes place over a period of time, not as a result of a report. They are able to provide a consistent service in both consultancy and education in English, French, Spanish and German, and have so far provided their services in 25 different countries.
About Hallmark Cards:
Currently, Hallmark's greeting cards, gift wrappings and other personal expression products are translated into more than 30 languages and sold in more than 100 countries. The company comments that it understands customers' needs better than any other greeting card company: "When shopping for a card, they are seeking a sentiment and design for a particular friend, loved one or occasion. And when they receive a card in the post, they understand the power of the human connection."