In yesterday’s post, we discussed the NPX keynote by Don Wirth, VP Global Operations Supply Chain and Excellence of DuPont, on DuPont’s Journey to Supply Chain Excellence and how a key to success was DuPont talent. We also said that DuPont is a company that did more than just give their talent lip service and put their corporate money where their corporate mouth was and this is a key to their recent success (which saw a year over year EPS growth of 32% last quarter) and their plans to cut 3.7 Billion in cost from their supply chain.
How did they do it? When the economy was tanking in late 2008 and early 2009 and everyone was cutting jobs left, right, and center, instead of cutting their global workforce 5% to 10% with all their peers, which was the original gut feel reaction of some executives and board members, they took a step back and said “the market will come back like it always does and the best way to recover is to be ready and more competitive when it does“. And they realized that the best way to be ready was to have people who could capitalize on the opportunity. By capitalizing, they decided that they needed people who could deliver the necessary innovation while keeping supply chain costs down as that is the key to continued success in up or down economies.
So they created a center of supply chain excellence and took people from across the company who would have otherwise been laid off from under-performing divisions and trained them. And trained them. And trained them some more on supply chain best practices — lean, kaizen, negotiation, contract management, and other areas of critical impact. Then they sent them back into the business units with new skills and knowledge to guide unit operations and manage the supply chains with guidance from the center of excellence. And then the cost reductions started to appear from across the board.
From there, they modified their Dupont Production System (DPS) methodology to include best-in-class supply chain operations to provide the highest customer service with the lowest total cost of ownership by increasing overall supply chain resilience. And then they focussed on plant operations, supply chain design, and supply chain optimization and identified almost 3.7 Billion in cost reduction opportunities through improved operations. And now development is a key part of their mandate and a continued focus. And it’s for the best.