Category Archives: Sudy Bharadwaj

Three Questions for Job Seekers in the Supply Chain Space

Today’s guest post is from Sudy Bharadwaj, who has been analyst extraordinaire of Aberdeen Group, a VP of MindFlow Technologies (who innovated the sourcing optimization space), CMO of Informance (who brought intelligence to the manufacturing floor), and a Sales Superstar at Inovis (who was one of the largest B2B eCommerce players). (Note that all of these companies made successful exits by way of acquisition.) Sudy is currently the CEO of Hound Technologies and, a new Web 3.0 job search start-up that is looking to revolutionize the job search process for the average job seeker (and not the average recruiter).

Since I have been involved in the supply chain industry for 20+ years, I thought I would share some observations for job seekers in this space. One interesting fact about supply chain jobs — they are all over the map in terms of qualifications and experience. Some high-end jobs require advanced degrees and lots of experience, while others can be entry-level positions.

Regardless of level, there are some common issues all supply chain job seekers should think about:

Are you a cost center or a profit center/revenue center?
Many supply chain professionals, while knowing they have an important role, do not do as good of a job of fully understanding and articulating their overall role in their ecosystem. Think of what revenue or savings you contribute to the company. By optimizing your supply chain, how have you contributed? Can you describe some customer satisfaction metrics? Cost savings metrics?
One famous example of where you fit in the supply chain: when interviewing an assembly line worker installing seat belts at an automobile plant, the line worker told an executive “I not only install seat belts, I save lives”. That’s a great way to look at the job.

How are you managing, building and maintaining your network?
In any job search, networking is crucial, however, in the supply chain space, it can really improve your chances. In addition to connecting to your former co-workers, how about customers, suppliers, partners, etc? You were part of a supply-demand web, which looks like a large network; treat it like your job seeking network. Rather than looking for roles within your exact industry, can you work with customers and/or suppliers?
When discussing his job with a job seeker in the demand-side of the supply chain (read: sales), the main points were selling of products. The first question I asked was “tell me about your customer”.
     Job seeker: “They are a distributor of XXX products”
Me: “What else do they distribute”?
     Job seeker: “Numerous products, including ABC and XYZ”
Me: “Can you sell those?”
     Job seeker: “Of course”
It may not be so easy, but phone calls were made to the distributor, new introductions were made, interviews ensued, and a new job was started with very different products than the sales executive sold before.

Are you addressing your skills gaps?
If you are an aspiring supply chain professional, or returning war veteran, you can find help from your local workforce office or VA representative. A great example in the Dallas/Fort Worth area is what the Workforce Solutions of North Central Texas has done — they acquired funding to develop certification programs — Certified Logistics Associate (CLA) or Certified Logistics Technician (CLT). Don’t live in the Dallas/Fort Worth area?
This link describes this program.

Try hitting Google and searching for some common phrases. Just for fun, I Googled “supply chain certification program in north Dakota” and got some interesting hits. Some are online programs from out-of-state schools while others are state sponsored programs.

These are three different questions any job seeker in the supply chain space needs to ask themselves as they embark on a new job search.

Thanks, Sudy. And if you are looking for a new Supply Chain job, try* It’s still in beta, so this means there are still some kinks to work out, but it’s the first site that combines the power of a meta-aggregator with the power of multiple social networks simultaneously. Not just a LinkedIn or Facebook app, it can utilize your LinkedIn, Facebook, and Plaxo social networks simultaneously to tell you who in your network might be able to help you with a job on all of the major job search sites. And, unlike most job sites that just do simple title search, it uses Natural Language Processing and Semantic Search to find other jobs that might be relevant to you. For example, if you searched for “inside sales” you would not find an “account executive” job at Oracle on other job sites, which is almost the exact same job, just titled differently in a different organization. And if you searched for Procurement, you might not find Supply Manager — but the Jackalope Jobs engine will. Of course, since NLP and Semantic technology are not perfect and still in refinement, not every result will be a 100% match**, but the majority of the results will be very appropriate matches and this approach furthers the the goal of the site which is to expose you to more opportunities that you might be qualified for and able to get as a result of your network than other job sites give you. And if you search different, you might get surprising results. Sudy’s next post will describe how you use the platform to search different.

* Full disclaimer: the doctor is currently serving as CTO of JackalopeJobs and has a vested interest in the site’s success.

* For example, the phrase “human resources” causes the platform no end of grief because not only does almost every job description mention it once (which is easy to filter out), but poorly written job descriptions mention the phrase more than once when the job is not a human resources (related) job, which leads the NLP keyword analyzer and/or semantic engine to sometimes believe the job might actually be related to human resources. So this search will often turn up more false positives than others. However, these jobs typically get weighted down as you will not likely have as many, or any, connections to jobs in a different industry if you are a HR professional.

(The) Strategic Sourcing (Debate Part V): My 2 Cents

Today’s guest post is from Sudy Bharadwaj, ex-analyst extraordinaire of the Aberdeen Group, former VP of MindFlow, former CMO of Informance, and, most recently, a star at Inovis.

There is lots of debate in the blogsphere about what is strategic sourcing — whether or not it’s dead, alive, or a zombie. Over the past several months, discussions with consulting firms, large/small enterprises1, and technology vendors has revealed a few items:

“It’s called Strategic, but its not used Strategically”

Strategic sourcing, for the most part is seen as a procurement function, and typically, a transactional process leveraging tools such as RFx and Reverse Auctions in a tactical manner. Some large consulting firms who offer services, treat Strategic Sourcing services similarly and mainly are utilized as “staff-augmentation”. For manufacturing organizations, where materials can be 60%-80% of cost of goods, sourcing of direct materials needs to be approached as a Supply Chain challenge. Take the direct materials at the point of consumption and work backwards in the supply-chain several tiers, and understand costs. When the Supply Chain is worked cooperatively with suppliers, an organization can ask the question “How we reduce each others costs without adversely impacting each other’s margins”?

The Starting Point

One area missing in many Strategic Sourcing processes is a clear understanding of objectives of the process, the organization, or even a sourcing event. Is the focus on cost? A quick answer can be yes, but further details shows that enterprises are balancing cost with quality, supplier performance, and a host of other factors. A large consumer goods company recently awarded contracts which were 10% higher than the previous year to a different supply-base, due to very poor supplier performance the original supply base the prior year (late shipments). The objective of that sourcing event was shifting to more reliable suppliers while keeping the cost of the category within 15% of the previous year. Therefore, a 10% increase in costs actually exceeded expectations.

How are some enterprises leveraging Strategic Sourcing? They are leveraging strategic sourcing initiatives in other areas of their business.


Product Design Process Understanding cost structures, supplier capabilities and/or metrics when in the design process and adjusting as needed pays large dividends, since changes later on during the product lifecycle can results in much higher costs or longer innovation cycles. A consumer electronics manufacturer recently had to eliminate a product launch, due to the fact that a critical component, which was cost-effective at lower volumes, was more expensive at higher volumes, thus causing the product’s profitably to fall below acceptable levels.

Manufacturing Knowing which suppliers adversely affect production can be key in understanding qualitative factors (such as cost) vs. quantitative factors such as quality. If a specific supplier is 5% less expensive than others, but, due to inconsistent quality, causes lower yields, is that 5% in savings costing 10% in other costs such as product re-do’s, overtime, or waste?

Supply-Chain Strategy. By having extended supply chains, organizations now off-load much of development and manufacturing of their products to third parties. Should organizations take back some of this manufacturing, perhaps a final assembly step, in order to drive cost savings, perform better customer satisfaction (by offering custom final assembly), or achieve other objectives?

Is Strategic Sourcing Dead?

For some organizations, it may as well be, since top-performers leverage Strategic Sourcing in manners described above, or in other ways, thereby outperforming their industry peers. These top performers also take a multi-year view. For example, in year 1, develop an understanding of the cost structure of key materials or components. In year 2, leverage this knowledge and work with those suppliers who can attack the key parts of cost, lowering the overall cost of a product, thus increasing profitability, or maintaining profitability as the organization faces price-pressures. In year 3, the organization may start to drive out cost by (1) aggregating specific key components across it’s supply-base, (2) taking positions on these components in commodity markets, and (3) requiring the supply-base to purchase these components from the commodity positions.

Thanks, Sudy.

1 Primarily Manufacturing firms in a variety of industries: Hi-Tech, CPG, Process, Oil & Gas, Pharmaceuticals, Discrete Manufacturing, etc.

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Working Capital Improvement: What the “Smart Kids” Do

Today’s guest post is from Sudy Bharadwaj, ex-analyst extraordinaire of the Aberdeen Group, former VP of MindFlow, former CMO of Informance, and, most recently, a star at Inovis.

Analyzing data from CFO Magazine’s Working Capital Scorecard (Part I and Part II), and reviewing case studies around the web as well as several interviews, reveals several themes, or habits, common to top performers. Perhaps the most compelling is a holistic view of the business process, change management and technologies deployed.

Business Process

Organizations can simplify the “bookends” of their enterprise business processes and focus on the order-to-cash (DSO — days sales outstanding) and source-to-settle (DPO — days payables outstanding; includes the procure-to-pay) processes. Simply put, focus on your customer processes and your supplier processes to improve these metrics. For DIO (days inventory outstanding), certainly internal processes need to be reviewed (for some enterprises, the manufacturing/production process). However, each external process connects into the manufacturing process, therefore, once optimizing each process has been successful, then organizations can optimize joint processes for further efficiencies. An example of optimizing joint business processes can be connecting your customers to your inventory, thus enabling faster moving inventory, and reducing the need for DIO. Similarly, on the supply-side, provide your suppliers visibility into your inventory and manufacturing requirements and enable the suppliers to replenish the inventory based on services levels.

Change Management

Some organizations are basing performance bonuses on working capital improvement, thus tying personal income to this specific business metric — a smart strategy. Organizations need to continue to think smarter. In several successful working capital initiatives, the sweeping organizational change is making the team pro-active vs. reactive. On the customer side, for example, some organizations (poor performers) do not realize a customer invoice is late until it is past due. By the time the collections team is aware of a specific delay in payment, they are too late — this payment from the customer may not happen for another 60 days. This can be referred to be as a reactive process. Organizations at the top-levels of working capital performance improve DSO by reviewing invoices prior to sending them to the customer. The review goes beyond just formatting and syntax to determine if the invoice matches a customer’s purchase order. In the event the invoice does not match, the collections team is notified and corrective action can be taken before the customer sees the error. By viewing collections within the order-to-cash process as a proactive process, successful enterprises transform the collections team and thus reduce time-to-receipt (payment).

Leverage various technologies

Technology can be double-edged sword. If an enterprise automates the process of manually generating invoices, and the invoices are incorrect 10% of the time, then automating causes the error to happen much faster. Key sets of technologies to leverage are a combination of automation, business process management (BPM) and a workflow-based system. Automation can come in numerous forms from a variety of vendors — from infrastructure providers, B2B integration providers, and providers of e-procurement and e-invoicing solutions to automate the various processes affecting DPO/DSO. Some of these technologies also support varying degrees of BPM, or a stand-alone BPM technology may be deployed, depending on the level of analysis required to analyze any information sent to customers/suppliers. Once such analysis is complete, the workflow-based system can be utilized to route any potential issues to proper personal within the organization.


The high performers in working capital, as measured by days working capital (DWC), improve the DWC by being pro-active vs. re-active in the various business processes which can directly impact this metric and it’s sub-metrics (DPO/DIO/DSO). However, the improvement is not accomplished by just addressing a single facet — process, technology or people, the improvement occurs by addresses all three facets simultaneously. Addressing all three facets enables the proactive management of the business processes, which contribute to improvement of working capital.

Thanks, Sudy.

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Health Care Costs, Working Capital Improvement and Supply Management in the Same Sentence?

Today’s guest post is from Sudy Bharadwaj, ex-analyst extraordinaire of the Aberdeen Group, former VP of MindFlow, former CMO of Informance, and, most recently, a star at Inovis.

A previous post showed that top performing companies among the US-headquartered 1000 companies, as measured by Days Working Capital (DWC) improvement, focus on all three sub-metrics of DWC:

  • DSO – Days Sales Outstanding
  • DIO – Days Inventory Out Standing
  • DPO – Days Payables Outstanding

The data, as compiled, analyzed and reported by CFO Magazine(c)also performs an analysis on the above metrics by industry sector. The top culprits, or bottom three performers, as per Table 1, were in Healthcare Equipment and Supplies, Biotechnology, and Life Sciences Tools and Services. Two other sectors, Pharmaceuticals and Health Care Technology were in the bottom third percentile of all 59 industry sectors (GICS Industry Level). All these industries can be classified as health related industries (HRI).

Table 1: Days Working Capital by Industry Sector


While many enterprises are different, thus requiring customized initiatives to improve working capital performance, a detailed look into the three sub-metrics yields the fact that HRI sub-sectors (other than pharmaceuticals) fall in the bottom third percentile of all industries in DPO, Table 2.

Table 2: Days Payables Outstanding by Industry Sector

To sum it up, HRI organizations, on average, pay suppliers much quicker than the average of all sectors — in some cases more than twice as fast as the overall average. The question can be asked: “why do these organizations pay their suppliers/sub-contractors so quickly”? Based on the very nature of HRI — highly proprietary and cutting edge products, and based on reviewing detailed SEC filings, the following conclusions can be made:

  • Some strategic materials are sole sourced,
  • Outsourced R&D (including clinical trials) and,
  • A reliance on favorable fluctuations in the strength of the US dollar

One can surmise that suppliers to HRI are very strategic and hold strong leverage to their HRI customers.

All point to the fact that this sector, perhaps like no other requires strong and senior-level attention to supply management initiatives.


One can conclude that in HRI, the suppliers hold the leverage in these relationships, which means it is paramount for HRI organizations to proactively approach supply-management in a collaborative manner that encourages mutual benefit. Of the various known strategies, two come to mind:

Leverage early-payment discounts: This strategy may already be occurring. HRI finance teams must perform a cost-benefit analysis to determine if taking advantage of early-payment discounts yields stronger returns vs. freeing up working capital.

Supply-Chain Finance: Potentially the best strategy since neither organization’s working capital is adversely affected. Again, a cost-benefit analysis must be performed to determine if any new finance charges yield stronger returns.

In general, enterprises in the HRI sector may wish to address the question:

How Do We Improve Each Other’s Working Capital Without Adversely Affecting Other Financials?

Thanks, Sudy.

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Working Capital Improvement: The View from 30,000 Feet

Today’s guest post is from Sudy Bharadwaj, ex-analyst extraordinaire of the Aberdeen Group, former VP of MindFlow, former CMO of Informance, and, most recently, a star at Inovis.

There has been considerable emphasis in improving working capital among large and small enterprises alike. While the reasons may seem obvious, to state a core objective: unleashing working capital provides more cash for other areas in the business and reduces dependency on credit. According to a recent benchmark by CFO Magazine(c) the working capital metric, DWC – Days Working Capital, of the top-1000 US-based public companies (excluding financial service companies) degraded 8.2% from FY 2008 to FY 2009, the worst degradation in years. Interestingly enough, when reviewing the individual performance of these companies, 464 of these companies actually improved their DWC

The Best are Balanced

Working capital initiatives can seem daunting, but an analysis of the data can lead to some key insights. Using the same data and stack-ranking all 1000 companies by DWC (1 = best improvement, 1000 = most degradation) identifies a trend among the top 25% of companies (Chart 1) who improved DWC by a median of 23%. A deeper analysis of the data on the three sub-metrics which make up DWC — Days Sales Outstanding (DSO), Days Inventory Outstanding (DIO) and Days Payable Outstanding (DPO) yields a further understanding into what drove this performance. A key finding is that 29% of the Top 25% of performers saw improvement in all three sub-metrics: DSO, DIO, and DPO. In other words, their improvement initiatives were not just in one area, they were in all three areas.

Median DWC Improvement from FY08 to FY09
The median DWC of the top 25% of performers improved (dropped) by 23%

Looking further down the rankings at the remaining 75% yielded the following insights: 57% of the bottom 75% saw improvement in NONE of the three DWC sub-metrics.

The conclusion from 30,000 feet: focusing on all three metrics greatly improves the odds of improving DWC. Not focusing on all three? The results are obvious.

Thanks, Sudy for explaining the key to improving working capital is to focus on initiatives that improve the core metrics and not the stupidity I ranted about yesterday.

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