Estimated reading time: 2 minutes, 38 seconds

Cecil Explains Work

A couple weeks ago I was pulling out of Denver, CO, heading East toward Kansas. I was anticipating a long, flat drive toward Kansas City. I stopped at Smokey's Cafe in the appropriately named Kanarodo (it's just on the border of Colorado and Kansas) and had a bowl of 'steer chili'. Strange enough, the cook was complaining about how much work it is to make the chili. 

I commented to myself, "Well, that's why they call it 'work'." And it made me think of the client I had just left. This particular company has been fortunate to avoid a lot of the financial downturn that's hurt so many other suppliers. They've done it by having a product line that is unique, but also by being accommodating to their customers requirements. 

I've found that retailers have been concentrating on making their own trading process as streamlined, automated, and reactive as possible. This often includes mandating new EDI document types, and other initiatives that can deliver good benefits to the retailer, but usually only add effort and expense for their suppliers. My client in Denver had just recently undergone a major ASN implementation that was initiated at the 'request' of its largest customer. 

The good part of the exercise is that this company now has a good implementation of an ASN process that can serve as a model for future implementations. The difficulty was that it was a new document and process they had to produce in a short period of time. However, in addition to having met the retailer's request, the supplier has a pretty good indication that they are in good standing to continue to be a long term supplier for this customer. 

In the end, these are all good things. The only negative to the entire project was the relatively constant drone from a couple of the staff members charged with getting the EDI documents and processes ready for testing. They were unreasonably (in my opinion) upset that they were being called upon to do something 'additional' and in a relatively short time frame. After a couple days of hearing this from them, I made the simple comment that I knew of at least a dozen equally qualified people who would be very happy to take the burden from them. After all, with 10%+ unemployment, being overworked can be a joyful experience. 

I think they got my message, because they concentrated on their project and did, indeed get it done on time and to spec. And the company can continue to keep them employed because the retailer continues to be a reliable customer. 

And as I finished up my 'steer chili' I looked behind the counter to see the cook prepping another batch. Maybe he had overheard my thoughts, or maybe he just had a momentary complaint because his feet hurt or something. But I definitely saw a smile on his face as he chopped up the beef and mixed the chili. Delivering what the customer wants, even if it's not glamorous, or if it's a little difficult, is what keeps the customers returning, and the paychecks coming in. 

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