The GAINS Supply Chain Executive Spotlight highlights talented supply chain professionals and leaders who deployed GAINS to orchestrate and execute their business objectives successfully. This installment focuses on the Executive Director of Planning & Procurement at Stuller Inc. and longtime GAINS supply chain planning customer Tiffanie Ortis.
She advocates for supply chain professionals to have a stronger voice within their companies. She encourages her peers to partner early on with procurement and supply chain managers to make the right decisions to grow the business.
Tiffanie states, “While the supply chain is often behind the scenes, it is truly the heart of an organization. From sourcing materials to getting the product from one place to another, that’s all the supply chain. It shouldn’t be taken for granted. When companies make planning decisions, supply chain professionals need a seat at the table.”
She has worked in supply chain management most of her career as a supply chain professional, which she says happened to her by chance. But after nearly 15 years in the profession, she couldn’t see herself working in any other field.
Interested in Numbers, That’s Supply Chain Management
After graduating from the business school at University of Louisiana with a degree in Finance, Tiffanie had designs to become a stock broker. She was drawn in by the numbers, highs and lows, and the excitement of the day. “When you think about it,” she added, “That’s exactly what supply chain management is, numbers, highs, and lows, and excitement depending on the day.” She began her career in the finance department of Lafayette, Louisiana-based Stuller , a fine jewelry manufacturer delivering more than 200,000 different items to over 40,000 jewelry professionals worldwide.
Eventually, she found her role and interests inching closer to the supply chain management and procurement. “I moved to the Accounts Payable department, and when a position opened up in Procurement, I begged for the opportunity to be closer to where the action was happening,” states Tiffanie.
Engaging with Mentors for Encouragement and Advice
Tiffanie was starting her supply chain management career and quickly sought out some guidance. “I have been very fortunate to have a few good mentors that I have been able to learn from in my career, both men and women. I developed professional relationships with people inside and outside my company and industry.
She shared, “It’s important to get a perspective on the supply chain from outside the four walls of your organization. It is crucial to have someone to learn from, to bounce ideas off and hear them say, ‘Woah, you are headed down the wrong path here!’ or to kick you and say, ‘You can do this!’”
Expect the Unexpected in Today’s Supply Chain Management Roles
Things have changed in the 15 years that Tiffanie has worked in supply chain management, particularly in the last few years. “Every day feels a little like chaos, but I feel it has made us all smarter supply chain professionals. Before, when everything was kind of easy. You would know what to expect. You had patterns you could rely on. You knew your company growth was going to be X percent, that your suppliers would stick to their lead times, and it will take this long to move a container from point A to point B.”
Over the last two years, things have become less predictable, beginning with the pandemic shutdowns that affected the regions where Stuller receives much of its supply and materials. “We had to figure out where we were going to get products. We had to ensure we had business partners who could support secondary sourcing and be agile enough to get back up and run once things started moving again. When transportation costs began skyrocketing, luxuries we had in the past, like being able to expedite or overnight ship materials, caused us to pause and say, ‘Let’s think twice about that.’ I feel that it’s made us smarter out of necessity, having to figure out how we make these decisions and how we maneuver our way through these patterns.”
The Future is All About Agility and ML
Over the past 24 months, a few things have become apparent for Tiffanie, “It’s important to be agile, and you have to trust your data. Gone are the days when a supply chain manager could make emotional decisions to say, ‘I feel like this is going to be a great item’ or ‘I feel like this supplier is going to have trouble.’ You must have the data available to make the best decisions, but you must also trust and rely on that data. You must accept that your numbers may differ from one month to the next, and you must be okay with that change and agile enough to change your plan accordingly.”
Tiffanie foresees a trend among supply chain management professional peers with the continuing use of AI and Machine Learning. “I think that Machine Learning will be ridiculously important for organizations. It allows supply chain professionals to elevate themselves, move away from the more manual time-consuming tasks, and better use the knowledge and ingenuity they can provide as business professionals.
When Inventory is Valuable, You Can’t Afford Bad Decisions
Tiffanie’s advice for anyone considering a Supply Chain Optimization solution like GAINS is: “Yes, do it. It is not a matter of if you should do it; it’s a matter of when. With how inventory is going, particularly in my industry, it is critical to have a system you know you can rely on. It starts to mesh into your business and learns everything about it. It is invaluable; I cannot describe enough how it helps make decisions.”
Last year Stuller converted their existing on-premise supply chain management solution over to the GAINS cloud-based service. “We were able to convert to the cloud in 8 weeks. Knowing we had the support of a company that said, ‘Don’t worry, we’ve got this.’ is fantastic! We have seen GAINS evolve along with what the supply chain has become today; it’s not the case that [GAINS] developed a system and then said, ‘We’re holding the course, and this is what our system will be; forever and always!’ As the supply chain business understanding has grown, so has the GAINS platform’s ability. GAINS is constantly developing and is not afraid to make changes and stay ahead of where we as supply chain professionals need to be.”
You will have an opportunity to meet Tiffanie in person and many other exceptional GAINS customers this September 28 and 29 at the GAINS Summit 2022: Reconnect conference in Chicago. Register today!