Interim executive James Stewart pulls a company out of crisis through inventory management
Interim executives step into companies at a time of crisis. Facing challenges and solving problems is what they’re good at. They are available to step into companies on short notice, to fill a sudden gap in leadership, and to run a key initiative which provides specialized skills and knowledge for temporary periods of time.
James Stewart, a long-time interim executive, shared one of his experiences in the Cerius Business Today podcast and some of the ways he has been able to make a quick impact through inventory management.
Background of crisis
The team Stewart was called in to help had three warehouses of products, all in the local vicinity. Prior to his arrival they had decided to buy all the inventory requirements for the following year to make sure there wasn’t any shortfall in inventory, which was an issue the prior year.
One challenge is that the inventory processes were not equipped to handle this. There was no system in place to handle the large amount of inventory and the coordination of it between locations. They weren’t use to running so many remote locations, nor were they use to having that amount of inventory.
The cracks began to become evident in basic inventory integrity ability – knowing where a product was and being able to do fundamental things like cycle counting. So when it became obvious that there was a big problem, Stewart worked with the internal team to throw out the old recipe and come up with some significant and customized tools to address the inventory.
Impact of inventory management
“What I contributed to that was literally to sit down, look at my skill sets and problem solving ability and just say – Okay, let’s step through a problem solving process, which wasn’t a normal thing for the people that were working there,” said Stewart.
He began by defining what the company was trying to accomplish and their parameters. He proposed developing hypotheses and testing them. Stewart sums it up as: “Basically, we came up with a whole set of inventory management tools that allowed us to ultimately improve the quality of the inventory understanding and reporting.”
Over the course of a year, they were able to get a 100 percent audit compliant bringing a significant improvement from where they were before.