Recently I have seen two examples of information that was misleading or just plain wrong and so today I am sending out a reminder to ensure that you validate any advice that you receive on materials and spare parts management. In terms of taking advice there is no substitute for research.
In one case a company committed thousands of dollars on a software package and training on the basis of a calculation showing a high level of excess stock. They were somewhat surprised when I told them that I could do the same calculation, with their data in MS Excel, in about 15 minutes.
A week or so later I read an article in a reputable magazine that indicated that the target stock turn for engineering materials and spare parts should be 12. Yes, 12! For spare parts, used to support plant operations, this is, in my experience, unrealistic. Most companies will be struggling to get above 2 and many will be below 1!
Often these types of issues arise when vendors and consultants try to cross over from general supply chain management into spare parts management. The easiest way to do that is to repurpose generic material without thinking through the pragmatic issues with engineering spare parts. And sometimes they do this so convincingly that it is easy to accept the advice.
So how do you check on that advice?
Well my advice is that you research the advisor. But not just by talkning to their referees (they will hardly be impartial). Research is about critically interpreting what you see rather than just taking things at face value. For example, visit their website to see whether their focus is consistent or if they are generalists masquerading as specialists.
If you have read an article, check out which other magazines have published them (most companies provide a list on their website). If the spread is thin or the topics inconsistent it may be a sign of marketing over substance. If they have written a book are they published by a reputable publisher or self published?
Also, make sure that you check in places such as LinkedIn, Twitter, even Facebook. For example, on Twitter do they guide you to interesting information or tweet endlessly about their training courses and airport delays? Is the ‘expert’ individual active online or is it just marketing people endlessly promoting? You could even ask others in online forums that you trust if they have heard of or experienced the company or people. This is the beauty of the Internet it provides both the data and the means to validate that data. You no longer have to rely on vendor provided references.
Ultimately it is up to you to determine which products or services you use and how you will validate them. All I can do is advise that you validate the advice you are given (or what you read) before committing time and resources to a project where you just may be setting yourself up for failure.