Selecting Digital Supply Chain solution to support your transformation initiative is difficult. It can be time-consuming and overwhelming. Research shows that it takes some companies up to 18 months to document and prioritize selection criteria, business use cases, and a ranking of future needs which precedes identifying a long list of potential solutions to investigate before determining your short list, final selection, contract negotiation and project kickoff. One important step in the process is conducting references provided by your short list of supply chain solution providers. This TEKTOK crossover episode will review a list of 20 important questions you should be asking.
Welcome to TEKTOK Digital Supply Chain podcast, where we will help you eliminate the noise and focus on the information and inspiration that you need to transform your business impact supply chain success, and enable you to replace risky inventory with valuable insights. Join your TEKTOK host Karin Bursa, the 2020 supply chain Pro to know of the year with more than 25 years of supply chain and technology expertise and the scars to prove it. Karin has the heart of a teacher and has helped nearly 1000 customers transform their businesses and tell their success stories. Join the conversation, share your insights, and learn how to harness technology innovations to drive tangible business results. Buckle up, it’s time for TEKTOK, powered by Supply Chain Now.
Karin Bursa (01:13):
Well welcome back Supply chain Movers and shakers to Thet Digital Supply chain podcast. Karin Bursa here to help you replace risky inventory with valuable insights. Today we’re gonna discuss some important questions you should be asking during the customer reference process. Now this occurs when you’re selecting a new digital supply chain platform. If you’re a fan of the show, please subscribe to TEKTOK and leave a review. And do not forget to follow us on LinkedIn and Twitter, you know, supply chain movers and jakers. I love my job as a supply chain technology industry advisor and a fractional cmo. That’s a mouthful, isn’t it? I work with a variety of supply chain practitioners and leaders, innovative supply chain technology providers that are interested in driving exponential growth and even interested investors that are looking to better understand the opportunities that exist in this supply chain arena.
Karin Bursa (02:28):
So clearly each of these audiences has a very different point of view, but they all seek to understand and to be more engaged in a variety of supply chain topics. So one area that impacts them all is choosing. Selecting a digital supply chain platform. That’s right. Choosing a new partner for your business. You know, everything hinges on the successful supply chain transformation, and I wanna talk about going through an evaluation process that fits your needs, your market and your culture. That’s right, your needs, your market, and your culture. It’s a critical part of your supply chain transformation initiative. And it can be really time consuming and a bit overwhelming as you try to figure out which vendor is the right supply chain technology partner for your business needs today, as you know them to be today, as well as where your business may go or may grow over the next 10 years.
Karin Bursa (03:38):
In fact, it takes some companies as much as 18 months. That’s right, 18 months or more to select a new solution. And depending upon the partner you choose, you could be looking at anywhere from another six months to maybe another 24 months to actually deploy an onboard before you start seeing that tangible roi. Yikes. Have it got your attention now? That’s right. These are long lead time discussions and finding a partner that’s a good fit for your business today as well as where you see your business evolving to over as much as a 10 or 12 year horizon is really challenging. So your team is likely to go through a 10 to 12 step process to identify, engage, evaluate, select, contract, and actually deploy a supply chain planning platform. Now, this team should be comprised of both and users, folks that are going to use the solution suite as well as IT professionals that’ll be engaged in some of the enablement conversations.
Karin Bursa (04:56):
And of course you need to have oversight by your executive team. They’re the ones that are setting the strategy and have actually prioritized this investment and they’re doing it for a reason. That reason is in fact, to drive transformational business performance over time, not to generate a report, not to do the same old thing you have been doing for the last five years, just do it faster. This is to drive transformation and be a platform for growth. So remember, you’re not just trying to do the same thing faster, right? Not just the same thing. Faster is is the step in the right direction, but that is not the end game. You wanna take this opportunity to truly transform the way you plan your business. Now to do this, you’re gonna have to be open minded. You’re gonna have to be, be willing to embrace some new approaches to better planning and ways that you can harness new data, new technology, to not just do the same thing faster, but to really transform and put your business in a leadership position for years to come.
Karin Bursa (06:16):
So one critical part of your evaluation will be speaking with customer references. Now, keep in mind that the solution provider is gonna select these references from some of the best of the best in their customer base. They want to align those customers with your market, with the functional footprint that you’re considering with company size or global reach that has similarities to what your business is today and where your business is going. Okay? So be sure you hurt me. They’re gonna select the best of the best. So you should expect customer references to be very positive. You might also want to request references that are on your specific e R P platform. This is gonna give you the opportunity to understand what the integration effort entails and how sustainable the solution providers integration approach is over time, not just at initial onboarding, but what does that look like as you continue to evolve your needs, grow your business, bring in new data over time.
Karin Bursa (07:28):
So that’s gonna be critically important. Now the best time to conduct reference calls is once you are down to a short list of two or three finalists. Hear me, hear me on that one more time. The best time to conduct your reference calls is once you’re down to a short list. And that short list is only gonna have two or three solution providers as finalists. At that point. You’re gonna have enough exposure to the solutions in the marketplace. You will have refined what your needs are. You’ll have a couple of things that you’re really excited about and you verified some of the functional capabilities in your steps to get to this reference point. So the customer reference step should happen late and that late is usually when you’re down to two or three finalists. This is also gonna help you assess if you’ve got a good cultural fit with the solution provider.
Karin Bursa (08:30):
Are you aligned? Do they understand your specific market segment? Do they prove an expertise? And are there partners that can help you with the deployment or does the solution provider do the deployment and onboarding themselves? So as a result of being later in your evaluation process and selection process, you’re likely gonna have a few real or perceived strengths and weaknesses for each solution provider. So keep those handy. Your real or perceived strengths and weaknesses for each of the solution providers that are on your shortlist. Also, doing it later in the cycle really helps the solution providers to respect their customers. Very valuable time, right? So we wanna reserve those customer interactions for the most qualified prospective buyers. We don’t wanna burn them out by using them very early in the process. So we wanna be for the solution providers, we wanna be late in the selection process.
Karin Bursa (09:39):
We wanna confirm the fit and intention to move forward, and we’re using and leveraging these customer references as proof points and the opportunity for you to have interaction with somebody who’s been there and done that. So you are gonna talk to both supply chain executives and users, or you should be requesting that. So as you engage with the references, let’s be sure that you’re speaking with a user representative that is responsible for the functional capabilities you are considering. What I mean by that is don’t talk to somebody who’s in a demand planning role. If your focus is gonna be on supplier enablement and production planning and scheduling, let’s make sure we’ve got good alignment so that they understand the challenges that you are facing or areas of your excitement or concern with a particular vendor. You also want to, if possible, have engagement at the executive level.
Karin Bursa (10:44):
You wanna talk about what their strategic initiatives were and why they believe this solution provider was the right solution provider for their business at the time they were selected. So where possible, I want you to ask for really specific examples or facts or data points rather than just their opinion. For example, if a reference tells you, Hey, this vendor has been a really good partner, you need to dig in a little deeper and ask what factors have they excelled at? Do you consider them especially innovative? Is it functional depth in a particular area? Is it that they provide exceptional customer support? Was their training fantastic? Whatever it might be. Just dig a little deeper, don’t settle for good, right? If at all possible, try to get some numeric ratings. So on a scale of one to five, how would you rate this provider in these areas?
Karin Bursa (11:51):
Make sense? And then you wanna get some color commentary on that. Okay, so let’s talk about some of the important questions to ask customer references, right? And you’re doing this when you’re selecting supply chain technology. I’ll give you a little behind the scenes insight as well on what you might wanna dig into or listen for as you ask these questions. So the very first question I’m gonna recommend to you is probably one that’s not on your list. In fact, it’s one I wasn’t even aware we should be asking for probably 10 years in my own experience in the supply chain industry. And it’s a simple one. Here’s the first question, and I want you to ask it first because I wanna be sure you cover it and it doesn’t get timed out, or you don’t find that you’re at your time and you never got to ask it.
Karin Bursa (12:43):
So here’s the first question. Do you or your company receive anything from being a reference? That’s right. Do you or your company receive anything as an incentive to be a reference for this solution provider, right? We wanna ask that up front and you wanna understand what their response means. So many vendors actually will offer a free or discounted training or customer conference tickets or other incentives, like discounts on user seats or upgrade services. You get the idea. This will give you some context to compare the references from multiple vendors. I’m not telling you to exclude them if they answer yes and they give you a candid open response to that, you just wanna note that, that the vendor is rewarding them for their time, which is valuable and this is how that reward is transmitted or that effort is recognized. Are you with me? Okay, I know that seems like a tough one to start the conversation, but if you get it outta the way, you’ll be able to kind of check that off.
Karin Bursa (13:56):
You’ll have a basis for comparison. And then we wanna start digging in to some of the really important and insightful questions. So secondly, I would start the conversation with something really simple like why did you choose this particular solution provider? What business problems were your highest priorities, right? You can see that that’s a really open-ended question. It gives them a great opportunity to talk about things that were important to them and why the vendor was a good fit for their business. Another question. When did you first deploy or onboard? How long did it take and what was the biggest challenge? It’s kind of three questions rolled into one, but you get where that natural dialogue is going. So your solution providers will probably give you a variety of references, some that have been long standing, successful customers and others that are more recent or earlier in their supply chain transformation.
Karin Bursa (14:57):
Again, you are trying to compare apples to apples and it becomes important as you look at things like return on investment or expertise or the time and requirements necessary to really maximize the benefits of the solution. Make sense? Okay, next question. Question four, how frequently do you upgrade and what is that experience like? Now, if they’re in the cloud environment, we need to be hearing that those upgrades are happening with some frequency because part of being in a true cloud architected environment is that your business will be an evergreen environment, right? We will be ever current on the solution and therefore the solution provider should be pushing updates or requiring a minimum update at least on an annual basis. So you wanna know not just how easy it is to do the initial implementation, but what is that upgrade process like? Is it a big deal or is it easy as a non event?
Karin Bursa (16:10):
Make sense? Next question. Question five. If you were deploying today, would you make the same decision on the same solution provider? Right? So waving the magic wand, you get to do a doover, would you select the same partner? If so, why Question six, How does the system perform with regards to your planning and processing needs? What you’re really asking there is did it meet your expectations? Did the provider, did the technology meet your expectations? And does it process in a reasonable period of time? This is gonna help you in a variety of ways and it’ll check the box for some of your IT engagement from your team. So speaking of it engagement, one of the, the criteria that’s always important in the selection process is scalability. So my business today is not as complicated as it’s gonna be 10 years from now, right? Cuz there’s gonna be growth, there’ll be new markets, I’ll have a different product portfolio.
Karin Bursa (17:17):
So you wanna ask a question. Question seven is, can you share an example of how scalable the solution has been for your business needs? And have they changed over time? Right? So remember I told you it can take 18 months to go through a selection process and then you could be looking at another six to 24 months before your company is live with the transformation partner you choose. So together you are looking at anywhere from three years to four years before you’re fully up and running. Running your business will be different in three years or four years. The market will be different in three years or four years. So part of that agility and resilience over time is that you can change and you can adapt to new market conditions. Question eight, what do you consider the best features of the solution? And question nine, what limitations have you encountered?
Karin Bursa (18:18):
Question 10, what feedback do you get from the user community? What do they have to say about the solution, the solution provider? Next question. Does your executive team engage with the solution where they simply using output from the solution? If so, what is their feedback? Now, I fully expect if you are selecting a solution that is gonna be part of your transformation initiative, I expect your executive team to be using the information or their executive team to be using the information to look at scenario comparisons or trade offs that occur in their network. But ask the question, see how they respond. Question 12, were there any surprises? Now be prepared. Those surprises can be good or they might be bad. And sometimes they’re more internal facing about their organization and where they thought they were than they are about the solution provider themselves. And question 13, who was your primary implementation partner?
Karin Bursa (19:26):
Did you leverage the solution provider? Did you work with a third party implementation, uh, consultancy? Was it a combination, et cetera. You’re trying to understand, you know, were you getting the best architected guide in the process and what’s that experience like? Question 14, what was your biggest lesson learned? Again, I I hear time and time again a pretty simple response here. I hear our biggest lesson learned was that we didn’t know what we didn’t know, right? This is coming from the practitioners, this is coming from folks who have been in the same situation you’re in and have gained new insights about their business and it’s exciting. What is the biggest lesson learned? Question 15. What’s been the return on investment to date or where have you seen the most compelling improvements in your key performance indicators? Right? That is one thing that I love about the supply chain industry is that when we make changes in process or technology, it’s tangible.
Karin Bursa (20:39):
We are changing our businesses and we are having an impact on overall performance and the way we serve customers, the way we work with suppliers, the way our employees engage on a day to day basis. It is transformational. What you do is important. Question 16, what would you change if you had the opportunity to do it all over again? What would you change if you had the opportunity to do it all over again? And question 17, can you share any insights on your total cost of ownership? So when companies talk about total cost of ownership, this is their subscription fees or their licensing, the training, the onboarding and configuration process, any hardware that they needed to purchase in order to support the initiative. So ask a question about can you share any insights on your total cost of ownership? Did it map to your plan?
Karin Bursa (21:45):
Meaning was it on target or did you go over budget or were you under budget? That’s always a great question. And question 18, did you have any prior experience with the solution provider you selected? Right? So they may have used them at a prior employer, they may have followed them for years. They may have worked with a different business unit. So that’s a really insightful question because it can be that there was a bias in the selection process. And again, you just wanna be aware of that as you are evaluating your shortlist. You just wanna understand the context of the references that are provided. Make sense? And then finally, last important question is asking the question, have I missed something? Is there an important question that we’ve missed in the discussion today? All right, I hope that helps you. That’s it for today. So that’s a a long list of questions.
Karin Bursa (22:55):
I’ll tell you what, we will put that list of questions in the show notes. So if you’re interested in doing a download and kind of keeping that either to conduct your references today or the references when you’re ready in your digital supply chain transformation initiative, I think that’ll be a great thing just for you to have in your library. And of course, be sure to reach out to me if I can be of help with your company and your supply chain initiative, your sales and operations planning process, market research or the strategic positioning that you may be doing for high growth supply chain technology providers. Love to, uh, share some additional insights with you and help you differentiate your businesses. So thanks for tuning in and be sure to drop me a note with your favorite questions to ask in the customer reference checking process as you select a new supply chain technology platform.
Karin Bursa (23:53):
Until next time, remember, this show would not be possible without your support. So thank you very much to every supply chain mover and Shaker listening to this particular session. If you’re a fan of the show, please leave a review and subscribe and follow TEKTOK, the Digital Supply Chain podcast on LinkedIn and Twitter or wherever you get your podcast. Our goal with TEKTOK is to help you eliminate the noise and focus in on the information, an inspiration you need to transform your business and replace risky inventory with valuable insights. We’ll see you next time on TEKTOK powered by supply chain. Now.
Host, Logistics with Purpose
Adrian Purtill serves as Business Development Manager at Vector Global Logistics, where he consults with importers and exporters in various industries to match their specific shipping requirements with the most effective supply chain solutions. Vector Global Logistics is an asset-free, multi-modal logistics company that provides exceptional sea freight, air freight, truck, rail, general logistic services and consulting for our clients. Our highly trained and professional team is committed to providing creative and effective solutions, always exceeding our customer’s expectations and fostering long-term relationships. With more than 20+ years of experience in both strategy consulting and logistics, Vector Global Logistics is your best choice to proactively minimize costs while having an exceptional service level.
Joshua is a student from Institute of Technology and Higher Education of Monterrey Campus Guadalajara in Communication and Digital Media. His experience ranges from Plug and Play México, DearDoc, and Nissan México creating unique social media marketing campaigns and graphics design. Joshua helps to amplify the voice of supply chain here at Supply Chain Now by assisting in graphic design, content creation, asset logistics, and more. In his free time he likes to read and write short stories as well as watch movies and television series.
Director of Communications and Executive Producer
Donna Krache is a former CNN executive producer who has won several awards in journalism and communication, including three Peabodys. She has 30 years’ experience in broadcast and digital journalism. She led the first production team at CNN to convert its show to a digital platform. She has authored many articles for CNN and other media outlets. She taught digital journalism at Georgia State University and Arizona State University. Krache holds a bachelor’s degree in government from the College of William and Mary and a master’s degree in curriculum and instruction from the University of New Orleans. She is a serious sports fan who loves the Braves. She is president of the Dave Krache Foundation. Named in honor of her late husband, this non-profit pays fees for kids who want to play sports but whose parents are facing economic challenges.
Vicki has a long history of rising to challenges and keeping things up and running. First, she supported her family’s multi-million dollar business as controller for 12 years, beginning at the age of 17. Then, she worked as an office manager and controller for a wholesale food broker. But her biggest feat? Serving as the chief executive officer of her household, while her entrepreneur husband travelled the world extensively. She fed, nurtured, chaperoned, and chauffeured three daughters all while running a newsletter publishing business and remaining active in her community as a Stephen’s Minister, Sunday school teacher, school volunteer, licensed realtor and POA Board president (a title she holds to this day). A force to be reckoned with in the office, you might think twice before you meet Vicki on the tennis court! When she’s not keeping the books balanced at Supply Chain Now or playing tennis matches, you can find Vicki spending time with her husband Greg, her 4 fur babies, gardening, cleaning (yes, she loves to clean!) and learning new things.
Founder, CEO, & Host
As the founder and CEO of Supply Chain Now, you might say Scott is the voice of supply chain – but he’s too much of a team player to ever claim such a title. One thing’s for sure: he’s a tried and true supply chain expert. With over 15 years of experience in the end-to-end supply chain, Scott’s insights have appeared in major publications including The Wall Street Journal, USA Today, and CNN. He has also been named a top industry influencer by Thinkers360, ISCEA and more.
From 2009-2011, Scott was president of APICS Atlanta, and he continues to lead initiatives that support both the local business community and global industry. A United States Air Force Veteran, Scott has also regularly led efforts to give back to his fellow veteran community since his departure from active duty in 2002.
Host, Logistics with Purpose
Allison Krache Giddens has been with Win-Tech, a veteran-owned small business and aerospace precision machine shop, for 15 years, recently buying the company from her mentor and Win-Tech’s Founder, Dennis Winslow. She and her business partner, John Hudson now serve as Co-Presidents, leading the 33-year old company through the pandemic.
She holds undergraduate degrees in psychology and criminal justice from the University of Georgia, a Masters in Conflict Management from Kennesaw State University, a Masters in Manufacturing from Georgia Institute of Technology, and a Certificate of Finance from the University of Georgia. She also holds certificates in Google Analytics, event planning, and Cybersecurity Risk Management from Harvard online. Allison founded the Georgia Chapter of Women in Manufacturing and currently serves as Treasurer. She serves on the Chattahoochee Technical College Foundation Board as its Secretary, the liveSAFE Resources Board of Directors as Resource Development Co-Chair, and on the Leadership Cobb Alumni Association Board as Membership Chair and is also a member of Cobb Executive Women. She is on the Board for the Cobb Chamber of Commerce’s Northwest Area Councils. Allison runs The Dave Krache Foundation, a non-profit that helps pay sports fees for local kids in need.
Principal, Supply Chain Now
Host of Supply Chain Now and TECHquila Sunrise
When rapid-growth technology companies, venture capital and private equity firms are looking for advisory, they call Greg – a founder, board director, advisor and catalyst of disruptive B2B technology and supply chain. An insightful visionary, Greg guides founders, investors and leadership teams in creating breakthroughs to gain market exposure and momentum – increasing overall company esteem and valuation.
Greg is a founder himself, creating Blue Ridge Solutions, a Gartner Magic Quadrant Leader in cloud-native supply chain applications, and bringing to market Curo, a field service management solution. He has also held leadership roles with Servigistics (PTC) and E3 Corporation (JDA/Blue Yonder). As a principal and host at Supply Chain Now, Greg helps guide the company’s strategic direction, hosts industry leader discussions, community livestreams, and all in addition to executive producing and hosting his original YouTube channel and podcast, TEChquila Sunrise.
Principal, Supply Chain Now
Host of Supply Chain is Boring
Talk about world-class: Chris is one of the few professionals in the world to hold CPIM-F, CLTD-F and CSCP-F designations from ASCM/APICS. He’s also the APICS coach – and our resident Supply Chain Doctor. When he’s not hosting programs with Supply Chain Now, he’s sharing supply chain knowledge on the APICS Coach Youtube channel or serving as a professional education instructor for the Georgia Tech Supply Chain & Logistic Institute’s Supply Chain Management (SCM) program and University of Tennessee-Chattanooga Center for Professional Education courses.
Chris earned a BS in Industrial Engineering from Bradley University, an MBA with emphasis in Industrial Psychology from the University of West Florida, and is a Doctoral in Supply Chain Management candidate.
Host of TEKTOK
If there’s one Supply Chain ‘Pro to Know,’ it’s Karin. She’s earned the title for three years and counting – culminating in her designation as the “2020 Supply Chain Pro to Know of the Year.” Karin is also an award-winning digital supply chain, business strategy and technology marketing executive. A sought-after speaker at industry conferences, you will find her quoted in a variety of supply chain publications – and active in forums like ASCM/APICS and CSCMP.
With more than 25 years of supply chain experience, Karin spearheaded strategy and marketing for Gartner Magic Quadrant Leader and IDC MarketScape Leader, Logility. Karin has the heart of a teacher and has helped nearly 1,000 customers transform their businesses and tell their success stories. Today, she is a sought-after advisor helping high-growth B2B technology companies with everything from defining their unique value propositions to introducing new products and capturing customer success. No matter their goals, she makes sure her clients have actionable marketing strategies that help grow global revenue, market share and profitability.
Host of Digital Transformers
Kevin L. Jackson is a globally recognized Thought Leader, Industry Influencer and Founder/Author of the award winning “Cloud Musings” blog. He has also been recognized as a “Top 5G Influencer” (Onalytica 2019, Radar 2020), a “Top 50 Global Digital Transformation Thought Leader” (Thinkers 360 2019) and provides strategic consulting and integrated social media services to AT&T, Intel, Broadcom, Ericsson and other leading companies. Mr. Jackson’s commercial experience includes Vice President J.P. Morgan Chase, Worldwide Sales Executive for IBM and SAIC (Engility) Director Cloud Solutions. He has served on teams that have supported digital transformation projects for the North Atlantic Treaty Organization (NATO) and the US Intelligence Community. Kevin’s formal education includes a MS Computer Engineering from Naval Postgraduate School; MA National Security & Strategic Studies from Naval War College; and a BS Aerospace Engineering from the United States Naval Academy. Internationally recognizable firms that have sponsored articles authored by him include Cisco, Microsoft, Citrix and IBM. Books include “Click to Transform” (Leaders Press, 2020), “Architecting Cloud Computing Solutions” (Packt, 2018), and “Practical Cloud Security: A Cross Industry View” (Taylor & Francis, 2016). He also delivers online training through Tulane University, O’Reilly Media, LinkedIn Learning, and Pluralsight. Mr. Jackson retired from the U.S. Navy in 1994, earning specialties in Space Systems Engineering, Carrier Onboard Delivery Logistics and carrier-based Airborne Early Warning and Control. While active, he also served with the National Reconnaissance Office, Operational Support Office, providing tactical support to Navy and Marine Corps forces worldwide.
Host of Logistics with Purpose and Supply Chain Now en Español
Enrique serves as Managing Director at Vector Global Logistics and believes we all have a personal responsibility to change the world. He is hard working, relationship minded and pro-active. Enrique trusts that the key to logistics is having a good and responsible team that truly partners with the clients and does whatever is necessary to see them succeed. He is a proud sponsor of Vector’s unique results-based work environment and before venturing into logistics he worked for the Boston Consulting Group (BCG). During his time at BCG, he worked in different industries such as Telecommunications, Energy, Industrial Goods, Building Materials, and Private Banking. His main focus was always on the operations, sales, and supply chain processes, with case focus on, logistics, growth strategy, and cost reduction. Prior to joining BCG, Enrique worked for Grupo Vitro, a Mexican glass manufacturer, for five years holding different positions from sales and logistics manager to supply chain project leader in charge of five warehouses in Colombia.
He has an MBA from The Wharton School of Business and a BS, in Mechanical Engineer from the Technologico de Monterrey in Mexico. Enrique’s passions are soccer and the ocean, and he also enjoys traveling, getting to know new people, and spending time with his wife and two kids, Emma and Enrique.
Host of Dial P for Procurement
Kelly is the Owner and Managing Director of Buyers Meeting Point and MyPurchasingCenter. She has been in procurement since 2003, starting as a practitioner and then as the Associate Director of Consulting at Emptoris. She has covered procurement news, events, publications, solutions, trends, and relevant economics at Buyers Meeting Point since 2009. Kelly is also the General Manager at Art of Procurement and Business Survey Chair for the ISM-New York Report on Business. Kelly has her MBA from Babson College as well as an MS in Library and Information Science from Simmons College and she has co-authored three books: ‘Supply Market Intelligence for Procurement Professionals’, ‘Procurement at a Crossroads’, and ‘Finance Unleashed’.
Host, Veteran Voices
Mary Kate Soliva is transitioning from active duty in the US Army. She is currently in the Doctor of Criminal Justice program at Saint Leo University. She is passionate about combating human trafficking and has spent the last decade conducting training for military personnel and the local community.
Jeff Miller is the host of Supply Chain Now’s Supply Chain is the Business. Jeff is a digital business transformation and supply chain advisor with deep expertise in Industry 4.0, ERP, PLM, SCM, IoT, AR and related technologies. Through more than 25 years of industry and consulting experience, he has worked with many of the world’s leading product and service companies to achieve their strategic business and supply chain goals, creating durable business value for organizations at the forefront of technology and business practices. Jeff is the managing director for North America at Transition Technologies PSC, a global solution integrator, and the founder and managing principal of BTV Advisors, a firm that helps companies secure business transformation value from digital supply chain technologies and their breakthrough capabilities.
Chief Marketing Officer
Amanda is a marketing veteran and entrepreneur with over 15 years of experience across a variety of industries and organizations including Von Maur, Anthropologie, AmericasMart Atlanta, and Children’s Healthcare of Atlanta. In 2016, Amanda founded and grew the Magnolia Marketing Group into a successful digital media firm, and now she develops modern marketing strategies, social campaigns, innovative operational processes, and implements creative content initiatives for Supply Chain Now. But that’s just the beginning of her supply chain impact. Amanda also served as the VP of Information Systems and Webmaster on the Board of Directors for APICS Savannah for several years, and is the face behind the scenes welcoming you to every Supply Chain Now livestream! She was also recently selected as one of the Top 100 Women in Supply Chain by Supply Chain Digest and IBM. When she’s not leading the Supply Chain Now marketing team, you can find Amanda with her and her husband Scott’s three kids, in the kitchen cooking, or reading.
Business Development Manager
Clay is passionate about two things: supply chain and the marketing that goes into it. Recently graduated with a degree in marketing at the University of Georgia, Clay got his start as a journalism major and inaugural member of the Owl’s football team at Kennesaw State University – but quickly saw tremendous opportunity in the Terry College of Business. He’s already putting his education to great use at Supply Chain Now, assisting with everything from sales and brand strategy to media production. Clay has contributed to initiatives such as our leap into video production, the guest blog series, and boosting social media presence, and after nearly two years in Supply Chain Now’s Marketing Department, Clay now heads up partnership and sales initiatives with the help of the rest of the Supply Chain Now sales team.
Trisha is new to the supply chain industry – but not to podcasting. She’s an experienced podcast manager and virtual assistant who also happens to have 20 years of experience as an elementary school teacher. It’s safe to say, she’s passionate about helping people, and she lives out that passion every day with the Supply Chain Now team, contributing to scheduling and podcast production.
Host of Dial P for Procurement
Billy Taylor is a Proven Business Excellence Practitioner and Leadership Guru with over 25 years leading operations for a Fortune 500 company, Goodyear. He is also the CEO of LinkedXL (Excellence), a Business Operating Systems Architecting Firm dedicated to implementing sustainable operating systems that drive sustainable results. Taylor’s achievements in the industry have made him a Next Generational Lean pacesetter with significant contributions.
An American business executive, Taylor has made a name for himself as an innovative and energetic industry professional with an indispensable passion for his craft of operational excellence. His journey started many years ago and has worked with renowned corporations such as The Goodyear Tire & Rubber Co. (GT) leading multi-site operations. With over 3 decades of service leading North America operations, he is experienced in a deeply rooted process driven approach in customer service, process integrity for sustainability.
A disciple of continuous improvement, Taylor’s love for people inspires commitment to helping others achieve their full potential. He is a dynamic speaker and hosts "The Winning Link," a popular podcast centered on business and leadership excellence with the #1 rated Supply Chain Now Network. As a leadership guru, Taylor has earned several invitations to universities, international conferences, global publications, and the U.S. Army to demonstrate how to achieve and sustain effective results through cultural acceptance and employee ownership. Leveraging the wisdom of his business acumen, strong influence as a speaker and podcaster Taylor is set to release "The Winning Link" book under McGraw Hill publishing in 2022. The book is a how-to manual to help readers understand the management of business interactions while teaching them how to Deine, Align, and Execute Winning in Business.
A servant leader, Taylor, was named by The National Diversity Council as one of the Top 100 Diversity Officers in the country in 2021. He features among Oklahoma's Most Admired CEOs and maintains key leadership roles with the Executive Advisory Board for The Shingo Institute "The Nobel Prize of Operations" and The Association of Manufacturing Excellence (AME); two world-leading organizations for operational excellence, business development, and cultural learning. He is also an Independent Director for the M-D Building Products Board, a proud American manufacturer of quality products since 1920.
Social Media Manager
My name is Chantel King and I am the Social Media Specialist at Supply Chain Now. My job is to make sure our audience is engaged and educated on the abundant amount of information the supply chain industry has to offer.
Social Media and Communications has been my niche ever since I graduated from college at The Academy of Art University in San Francisco. No, I am not a West Coast girl. I was born and raised in New Jersey, but my travel experience goes way beyond the garden state. My true passion is in creating editorial and graphic content that influences others to be great in whatever industry they are in. I’ve done this by working with lifestyle, financial, and editorial companies by providing resources to enhance their businesses.
Another passion of mine is trying new things. Whether it’s food, an activity, or a sport. I would like to say that I am an adventurous Taurus that never shies away from a new quest or challenge.
Lori is currently completing a degree in marketing with an emphasis in digital marketing at the University of Georgia. When she’s not supporting the marketing efforts at Supply Chain Now, you can find her at music festivals – or working toward her dream goal of a fashion career. Lori is involved in many extracurricular activities and appreciates all the learning experiences UGA has brought her.
Sales and Marketing Coordinator
Katherine is a marketing professional and MBA candidate who strives to unite her love of people with a passion for positive experiences. Having a diverse background, which includes nonprofit work with digital marketing and start-ups, she serves as a leader who helps people live their most creative lives by cultivating community, order, collaboration, and respect. With equal parts creativity and analytics, she brings a unique skill set which fosters refining, problem solving, and connecting organizations with their true vision. In her free time, you can usually find her looking for her cup of coffee, playing with her puppy Charlie, and dreaming of her next road trip.
Ben Harris is the Director of Supply Chain Ecosystem Expansion for the Metro Atlanta Chamber. Ben comes to the Metro Atlanta Chamber after serving as Senior Manager, Market Development for Manhattan Associates. There, Ben was responsible for developing Manhattan’s sales pipeline and overall Americas supply chain marketing strategy. Ben oversaw market positioning, messaging and campaign execution to build awareness and drive new pipeline growth. Prior to joining Manhattan, Ben spent four years with the Georgia Department of Economic Development’s Center of Innovation for Logistics where he played a key role in establishing the Center as a go-to industry resource for information, support, partnership building, and investment development. Additionally, he became a key SME for all logistics and supply chain-focused projects. Ben began his career at Page International, Inc. where he drove continuous improvement in complex global supply chain operations for a wide variety of businesses and Fortune 500 companies. An APICS Certified Supply Chain Professional (CSCP), Ben holds an Executive Master’s degree in Business Administration (EMBA) and bachelor’s degree in International Business (BBA) from the Terry College at the University of Georgia.
Host, The Freight Insider
Prior to joining TeamOne Logistics, Page Siplon served as the Executive Director of the Georgia Center of Innovation for Logistics, the State’s leading consulting resource for fueling logistics industry growth and global competitiveness. For over a decade, he directly assisted hundreds of companies to overcome challenges and capitalize on opportunities related to the movement of freight. During this time, Siplon was also appointed to concurrently serve the State of Georgia as Director of the larger Centers of Innovation Program, in which he provided executive leadership and vision for all six strategic industry-focused Centers. As a frequently requested keynote speaker, Siplon is called upon to address a range of audiences on unique aspects of technology, workforce, and logistics. This often includes topics of global and domestic logistics trends, supply chain visibility, collaboration, and strategic planning. He has also been quoted as an industry expert in publications such as Forbes, Journal of Commerce, Fortune, NPR, Wall Street Journal, Reuters, American Express, DC Velocity, Area Development Magazine, Site Selection Magazine, Inbound Logistics, Modern Material Handling, and is frequently a live special guest on SiriusXM’s Road Dog Radio Show. Siplon is an active industry participant, recognized by DC Velocity Magazine as a “2012 Logistics Rainmaker” which annually identifies the top-ten logistics professionals in the Nation; and named a “Pro to Know” by Supply & Demand Executive Magazine in 2014. Siplon was also selected by Georgia Trend Magazine as one of the “Top 100 Most Influential Georgians” for 2013, 2014, and 2015. He also serves various industry leadership roles at both the State and Federal level. Governor Nathan Deal nominated Siplon to represent Georgia on a National Supply Chain Competitiveness Advisory Committee, where he was appointed to a two-year term by the U.S. Secretary of Commerce and was then appointed to serve as its vice-chairman. At the State level, he was selected by then-Governor Sonny Perdue to serve as lead consultant on the Commission for New Georgia’s Freight and Logistics Task Force. In this effort, Siplon led a Private Sector Advisory Committee with invited executives from a range of private sector stakeholders including UPS, Coca-Cola, The Home Depot, Delta Airlines, Georgia Pacific, CSX, and Norfolk Southern. Siplon honorably served a combined 12 years in the United States Marine Corps and the United States Air Force. During this time, he led the integration of encryption techniques and deployed cryptographic devices for tactically secure voice and data platforms in critical ground-to-air communication systems. This service included support for all branches of the Department of Defense, multiple federal security agencies, and aiding NASA with multiple Space Shuttle launches. Originally from New York, Siplon received both a bachelor’s and master’s degree in electrical and computer engineering with a focus on digital signal processing from the Georgia Institute of Technology. He earned an associate’s degree in advanced electronic systems from the Air Force College and completed multiple military leadership academies in both the Marines and Air Force. Siplon currently lives in Cumming, Georgia (north of Atlanta), with his wife Jan, and two children Thomas (19) and Lily (15).
Host, Logistics with Purpose
Kristi Porter is VP of Sales and Marketing at Vector Global Logistics, a company that is changing the world through supply chain. In her role, she oversees all marketing efforts and supports the sales team in doing what they do best. In addition to this role, she is the Chief Do-Gooder at Signify, which assists nonprofits and social impact companies through copywriting and marketing strategy consulting. She has almost 20 years of professional experience, and loves every opportunity to help people do more good.
Host, Logistics with Purpose
Kevin Brown is the Director of Business Development for Vector Global Logistics. He has a dedicated interest in Major Account Management, Enterprise Sales, and Corporate Leadership. He offers 25 years of exceptional experience and superior performance in the sales of Logistics, Supply Chain, and Transportation Management. Kevin is a dynamic, high-impact, sales executive and corporate leader who has consistently exceeded corporate goals. He effectively coordinates multiple resources to solution sell large complex opportunities while focusing on corporate level contacts across the enterprise. His specialties include targeting and securing key accounts by analyzing customer’s current business processes and developing solutions to meet their corporate goals. Connect with Kevin on LinkedIn.
Host, Supply Chain Now en Espanol
Sofia Rivas Herrera is a Mexican Industrial Engineer from Tecnologico de Monterrey class 2019. Upon graduation, she earned a scholarship to study MIT’s Graduate Certificate in Logistics and Supply Chain Management and graduated as one of the Top 3 performers of her class in 2020. She also has a multicultural background due to her international academic experiences at Singapore Management University and Kühne Logistics University in Hamburg. Sofia self-identifies as a Supply Chain enthusiast & ambassador sharing her passion for the field in her daily life.
Host, Logistics with Purpose
Jose Manuel Irarrazaval es parte del equipo de Vector Global Logistics Chile. José Manuel es un gerente experimentado con experiencia en finanzas corporativas, fusiones y adquisiciones, financiamiento y reestructuración, inversión directa y financiera, tanto en Chile como en el exterior. José Manuel tiene su MBA de la Universidad de Pennsylvania- The Wharton School. Conéctese con Jose Manuel en LinkedIn.
Host, Supply Chain Now en Espanol
Demo Perez started his career in 1997 in the industry by chance when a relative asked him for help for two just weeks putting together an operation for FedEx Express at the Colon Free Zone, an area where he was never been but accepted the challenge. Worked in all roles possible from a truck driver to currier to a sales representative, helped the brand introduction, market share growth and recognition in the Colon Free Zone, at the end of 1999 had the chance to meet and have a chat with Fred Smith ( FedEx CEO), joined another company in 2018 who took over the FedEx operations as Operations and sales manager, in 2004 accepted the challenge from his company to leave the FedEx operations and business to take over the operation and business of DHL Express, his major competitor and rival so couldn’t say no, by changing completely its operation model in the Free Zone. In 2005 started his first entrepreneurial journey by quitting his job and joining two friends to start a Freight Forwarding company. After 8 months was recruited back by his company LSP with the General Manager role with the challenge of growing the company and make it fully capable warehousing 3PL. By 2009 joined CSCMP and WERC and started his journey of learning and growing his international network and high-level learning. In 2012 for the first time joined a local association ( the Panama Maritime Chamber) and worked in the country’s first Logistics Strategy plan, joined and lead other associations ending as president of the Panama Logistics Council in 2017. By finishing his professional mission at LSP with a company that was 8 times the size it was when accepted the role as GM with so many jobs generated and several young professionals coached, having great financial results, took the decision to move forward and start his own business from scratch by the end of 2019. with a friend and colleague co-founded IPL Group a company that started as a boutique 3PL and now is gearing up for the post-Covid era by moving to the big leagues.
Host, Supply Chain Now
The founder of Logistics Executive Group, Kim Winter delivers 40 years of executive leadership experience spanning Executive Search & Recruitment, Leadership Development, Executive Coaching, Corporate Advisory, Motivational Speaking, Trade Facilitation and across the Supply Chain, Logistics, 3PL, E-commerce, Life Science, Cold Chain, FMCG, Retail, Maritime, Defence, Aviation, Resources, and Industrial sectors. Operating from the company’s global offices, he is a regular contributor of thought leadership to industry and media, is a professional Master of Ceremonies, and is frequently invited to chair international events.
He is a Board member of over a dozen companies throughout APAC, India, and the Middle East, a New Zealand citizen, he holds formal resident status in Australia and the UAE, and is the Australia & New Zealand representative for the UAE Government-owned Jebel Ali Free Zone (JAFZA), the Middle East’s largest Economic Free Zone.
A triathlete and ex-professional rugby player, Kim is a qualified (IECL Sydney) executive coach and the Founder / Chairman of the successful not for profit humanitarian organization, Oasis Africa (www. oasisafrica.org.au), which has provided freedom from poverty through education to over 8000 mainly orphaned children in East Africa’s slums. Kim holds an MBA and BA from Massey & Victoria Universities (NZ).
Host, Logistics with Purpose
Nick Roemer has had a very diverse and extensive career within design and sales over the last 15 years stretching from China, Dubai, Germany, Holland, UK, and the USA. In the last 5 years, Nick has developed a hawk's eye for sustainable tech and the human-centric marketing and sales procedures that come with it. With his far-reaching and strong network within the logistics industry, Nick has been able to open new avenues and routes to market within major industries in the USA and the UAE. Nick lives by the ethos, “Give more than you take." His professional mission is to make the logistics industry leaner, cleaner and greener.
Sales Support Intern
Alex is pursuing a Marketing degree and a Certificate in Legal Studies at the University of Georgia. As a dual citizen of both the US and UK; Alex has studied abroad at University College London and is passionate about travel and international business. Through her coursework at the Terry College of Business, Alex has gained valuable skills in digital marketing, analytics, and professional selling. She joined Supply Chain Now as a Sales Support Intern where she assists the team by prospecting and qualifying new business partners.