Wednesday, 7 March 2012

The Logistics of Laura's Birthday Present

I am wiser now than to brave the horrors of a make up department as I did for Valentine’s Day.  For those of you concerned my vision has returned to normal and I can no longer taste Jo Malone.  I have decided to approach Laura’s birthday from an alternative direction.....the internet.  Yet again the truths of my professional life have failed to penetrate my personal life.
"Laura...this present is not to actual scale"
In Haiti I spent some time with members of a senior management team explaining the concepts of ‘lead in time’.  It is all too easy as a leader to make decision in a one hour meeting that have a 6 month tail to them.  We were applying this to pharmaceutical orders, noting that the decision for what to order needed to be made 6 months in advance of the actual distribution of stock to the sites.  It needed to take into account the growth or reduction in operational tempo, new projects and even impending known risks.

Laura’s birthday is on Sunday and it is one of the important ones.  I can’t therefore reveal any of the actual gifts but I can say that I didn’t obey my own rules for making sure that goods arrive on time and on budget.  The first thing you need in any procurement is a need event and Laura’s Birthday is my need event.  Easy to spot on iCal, same time every year March 11.  The next part of the strategy is a little trickier....statement of requirement..... I am an old romantic at heart and like to surprise Laura.  One day I will let you in on the story of our engagement that shows the lengths I will go to make sure things are surprise.  So throughout the year I like to recall things she liked, little bits and pieces she wanted and then trying deduce something that she hasn’t necessarily asked for but that she will love. Laura has this year chosen to assert her femininity through the prerogative to change her mind.  This resulted in the statement of requirement being assembled at a late stage.
The next stage is sourcing and verifying the product is fit for purpose.  Sourcing is reasonably easy; the web is chock full of people want to sell their wares and if all else fails you have Amazon.  Verifying the product is fit for purpose is even trickier than the statement of requirement in the birthday present system.  You cannot blunder into the demanding authorities office asking if this product is OK, it requires a little subterfuge.  Some advice is below with remedial pointers for men in bold.
Tactic one:  Leave the webpage open on the item you are thinking of getting and see what her reaction is.  Note always leave a few dummy pages open so your partner can’t latch on to the scent.  NB: Gents, if considering buying lingerie do not use tactic one!  It sends the wrong message.
"The all important tick in
a box"
Tactic two:  Casually mention the thoughtful present your close friend bought for their partner and gauge the reaction, this needs to be a true story or the friends need to be in on it. NB: Gents if the thoughtful present was a domestic appliance do not use tactic two and return to rethink the statement of requirement.
Tactic three:  Forget the romance and do what you would do in the office, take the statement of requirement and tick of the criteria against which you were asked to source.  Take said tick list and product specification to your partner and ask them to sign off on said birthday purchase.  NB: Gents safe can be good, especially when considering clothing sizes.
Well for Laura’s presents this process took a little longer than I thought!   I had failed also to account for the fact that specialist manufacturers don’t always have a next day delivery service or have a charge that can put the project out of budget where time and objective are not negotiable (ROT!).  And now I am hoping that I am a logistics genius and I have stumbled to an amazing JITL solution rather than a slightly too late solution.  One element of the birthday extravaganza is due to arrive today with DPD between 1341 and 1441 - got to love those fleet trackers!!.  I will have to arrange some secure storage for said gifts, perhaps I will consult Joel on disaggregated storage.  I will keep you posted on how things go on the in use date.
Remeber folks, Demand Event, Statement of requirement, Sourcing, Verification of fit for purpose, Ordering, Manufacture/Delivery time, In-use date makes for a Happy Birthday for everyone as well as a well stocked pharmacy, it is a Logistics fact!!!!

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