Day to day logistics is a function of supply chain management. Logistics consists of planning, organizing, executing, controlling, and problem solving. While supply chain is strategic in nature, logistics is more tactical. The goal is to solve problems so that they stay solved leaving more time for planning, organizing, executing, and controlling. Here is a simple model that managers and front line supervisors can use in solving basic logistics problems:
Problem Solving (Tactical)
This model is for small to medium sized tactical problem solving. To use this model you must “own” the problem and have the power to solve it. Your goal is simplified planning and immediate implementation. More complex problems will require a more detailed solution.
Step #1 Problem Statement/Impact
Write one or two sentences which clearly describe the problem and the pain points. If you can’t be definite about this you have very little chance of solving the problem.
Step #2 Cause/Effect
Managers often jump from problem identification to solutions. This is especially true in logistics, which is action oriented. However by taking the time to analyze cause and effect you are more likely to solve the problem. What are the root causes of the problem? What are the impacts on costs, productivity, sales, etc? What else happens as a result of this problem? This step helps you make sure that you are solving the right problem.
Step #3 What Info Is Needed?
Determine the data, reports, or evidence you need to analyze the problem. This will help you prove to yourself and others that the problem needs to be solved.
Step #4 Where Will I get It?
Identifying where the info can be located speeds up the process.
Step #5 List Solutions Steps/Implement
If you have completed Steps 1 thru 4 the solutions should be obvious. If still unsure about solutions re visit Steps 1 and 2. Prioritize the tasks and give yourself deadlines. You may opt for a trial solution as long as you are not devoting big resources during the test period. Implement, don’t agonize.
Step #6 How Will I Measure and Manage in the Future?
To avoid a recurrence of your problem decide how you will monitor and manage the issue going forward. Communicate the changes and why you are making them. Create a checklist or dashboard.