Author Archives Lynne

Do you need more money to fuel your business growth? Is there a hole in your bucket (dear Liza)?

Posted by Lynne on October 14, 2019  /   Posted in Process, Procurement

With all the volatility and uncertainty in the world, we all need to make sure we are making the most of the money we invest and spend in our businesses, to ensure their future strength. Is procurement effectiveness on your agenda? If not, why not (dear Henry)?

Recently, one of our clients, a fast-growing international manufacturing and distribution business, approached us about cost optimisation. Despite being profitable, they felt they could make each pound go further – and that would help fuel even greater growth going forward.  

We quickly identified significant cost saving opportunities through an analysis of spend and business processes, with a scale of ease to realise these benefits. Due the credibility of this first piece of work, we were asked to go back and work with the business to deliver them.

This involved a mixture of coaching the internal team and providing specialist support in key spend areas. We were able to deliver all the benefits we identified across a massive range of categories within just nine months.

Then to ensure its sustainability whilst still leading the buying function, we were asked to recruitment a permanent long term leader – which we did through our expansive network.

So if you’ve a hole in your procurement bucket, take proper steps today to mend the leak. Straw won’t fix it! But talking to Mobius just might…

Brexit proofing your team. Are you ready?

Posted by Lynne on October 14, 2019  /   Posted in People, Strategy

The UK Government announced that following Brexit the Freedom of Movement for EU Nationals will end 31 October 2019. Previously, Theresa May’s Government had said that there would be a transition period until 31 December 2020, during which EU Nationals would be able to come to the UK without a visa for three months at a time.

This announcement has caused some confusion in respect of EU nationals already living and working in the UK. It is, however, important to note that this recent announcement does not materially change the position, just created ambiguity about the deadline.

It has been clarified that even if there is no deal, the intention is that existing EU employees in the UK would still have until December 2020 to apply under the EU Settlement Scheme. However, in order to ensure absolute certainty and prevent any issues occurring when travelling post-Brexit, EU employees are to be encouraged to make their application as soon as possible.

Helping you through the process

Further to the recent announcements on Brexit, we want to give support to multi-site businesses, in particular in London where there is a high density of EU nationals, on obtaining Settled and Pre-Settled status. This will include, but is not be limited to:

  • Going on-site and meeting EU workers and ‘holding their hand’ through the application process for Settled and Pre-Settled status (telephone support may also be needed in particular cases). This may include some evening/night work as we will need to work around shifts
  • Going on-site to complete workshops/education sessions. We would need to work together to develop any materials to educate managers and team members on the process and what is expected of them
  • To track completion and the issuing of Settled and Pre-Settled status applications, where we would do this on a team member basis, with the client providing an overview of all those that need this. The HRBPs would then complete the process with each individual and follow up to ensure that the relevant status has been received

Recent success

Starting on 2 September and after recruiting four HRBPs and a Mobius Project Manager from our associate pool, 1,600 EU Nationals working for a national, multi-site, B2C client were helped through their ‘EU Settlement Scheme Application’. In just five weeks, 87% of those effected colleagues were successful in their application – and the number grows everyday.

A third off courier costs for a PE-backed distribution company. £0.5 million off cleaning costs for a fashion retailer. 1.5% off labour costs for a privately-owned hotel group. What can we achieve for you? 

Posted by Lynne on May 03, 2017  /   Posted in People, Process, Procurement, Strategy, Systems

These are just a few examples of the work Mobius business performance consultants have delivered for clients, which has enhanced the value of the businesses to improve the sale value of the business or provide greater funds for future investment.

In all these examples the ingredients have been similar; we’ve provided a business leader with relevant experience and the strength to seek out the opportunities, and not be put off by the inevitable internal and external pressures.

These are people who have had operational responsibility as well as consultancy experience. They can carry out a rigorous analysis of how things are working now for your business and establish the actual data to validate an objective assessment. They have the knowledge to root out the gems, and the ability and resilience to land these as tangible and sustainable benefits. We know it sounds simple but we also know that it isn’t and that it needs the calibre of person and the processes that Mobius bring to make it happen.

Our experienced team of commercial winners have the skills and expertise to identify and deliver these very tangible benefits for your business, whatever the sector. If we can’t find a benefit we will tell you quickly but we haven’t been in this position yet!

Contact us now to start a discussion about how we can help you make the next step to improving your cost base and the profitability of your enterprise.

Mobius’ Chris is taking part in ‘Brave the Shave’ for Macmillan Cancer Support. Follow his story and please show your support too…

Posted by Lynne on September 15, 2016  /   Posted in People

Chris Benham, Mobius ServicesMost of us have had personal experience of Cancer, whether by it attacking our own bodies or those of our family, friends or colleagues. You’re certainly lucky if you can say it has not affected your life in some way.

Mobius Director, Chris Benham shares his story, as he takes part in Macmillan Cancer Support’s ‘Brave the Shave’ appeal. Between now and 27 November, when he will literally have his locks skilfully removed, he is refusing to visit the barber. So if you see him around with an unusually long mop of curls, it’s because he wants to be able to donate as much hair as possible to the cause.

Click here to read Chris’ personal story, involving his late mother Jenny and father Russ who both were taken by this vicious disease whilst he was a young man, and to sponsor him in his quest. Thank you.

badge_joinme-1Today I recognise how these events changed my life. My mantra of joie de vivre, carpe diem, never say, “if” but “when”. It is with this attitude developed from what happened with my parents, Jenny and Russ, and more recent family experience of Cancer, that now is my time to seize the day, put something back, that helps current and future generations of Cancer sufferers.

How to get an increased ROI on your procurement activity

Posted by Lynne on May 17, 2016  /   Posted in Procurement

Effective procurement can give the most tangible and mouth-wateringly high returns of any function within an organisation. Benchmark studies point to an average of two- to fivefold ROI per annum. Our own experience bears this out.

As many of you will know, we have a thriving procurement consultancy and, over the last six years, we have carried out assignments to develop procurement strategies for organisations. These involved negotiating and re-contracting across categories as diverse as software licences to building maintenance and from cleaning stores to cleaning materials. We have worked across many business sectors including property, retail, hospitality and financial services. The client feedback has been positive, their return on investment has been up to tenfold and the demand for our support has grown.

Would you like a share of this? It’s now possible, as we have strengthened our offer to meet the needs of a wider audience. We have handpicked a team of proven professionals based on our personal experience of their success across a wide array of categories, sectors and procurement processes. Our collective experience now includes UK public sector, retail, food services, hospitality, business services, pharmaceuticals and charities – and our existing category experience has now extended to include telephony, IT hardware, fuel and vehicles, global sourcing, FM and professional services.

On a third dimension we have expertise in procurement strategy, stakeholder engagement, supplier selection, negotiating and contracting and supplier management as well as e-Procurement and e-Auctions.

Just as importantly though this team has the confidence and experience to transfer their existing knowledge into new areas and hit the ground running.

If you would like to find out more about our specialist procurement team or discuss a particular issue, please drop us a line or give us a call.

Is your business the customer of choice?

Posted by Lynne on May 17, 2016  /   Posted in Procurement

Right now there is, quite rightly, a lot of focus on supplier relationship management. A wise extension of this – with your key strategic suppliers – is to look at what you can do to be the customer of choice for such trading partners. If there is a shortage of supply now, or in the future, this helps to ensure you have continuity of supply.

This doesn’t mean just increasing your prices, but it does mean developing a long-term dialogue to understand what makes it difficult for your supplier to trade with you – and then work with them to overcome these so you are the easiest partner for them to trade with.

You may be surprised but some of their big issues may be around logistics, goods receipting, demand forecasting or the term of the contract. They may be things you can change at little or no cost to you but de-risk your supply chain massively. What have you got to lose?

Is it all systems go for you? Companies often invest heavily in systems, but how often do they deliver everything you need?

Posted by Lynne on April 07, 2016  /   Posted in People, Process, Systems

chris benham surprisedSystems can take ages to produce, even longer to implement and then instead of “Eureka”, it’s a case of “How on earth do you do …”, or “This is just too complicated, why can’t we go back to the way we did things before?” Or “We’ll do this if we have to, but I will carry on with the old way of doing it as well.”

You might be surprised to learn that this is a really common problem. We’re often meeting companies of all shapes and sizes who tell us they are only getting half the expected benefits from their ‘complicated’ software or, worse still, are not using it at all. “What a waste of money that was…” they say.

Our research has shown that the most common cause for the lack of return is actually because employees are not being trained fully in how to use it. Moreover, they are not passing on the knowledge they have gained to all the users. Instead the temptation is simply to blame the software. After all, we all like something or someone to blame, don’t we?

But for any program or system to work, all staff that use it will need straight-forward and effective training. Not just a quick ‘sheep dip’ session or training for one person who left the business ages ago, but relevant and engaging sessions, train the trainer sessions and something for new starters. So if your system is not giving you what you expected, maybe it isn’t the software’s fault after all.

That’s not to say there aren’t bad systems out there. Of course, there are, that’s a given. There are also some that are better than others. All we are saying is that sometimes we have to look closer to home to see whether we are realising the full operational and financial benefits from our initial investment.

For example, whilst working recently with three national, consumer-facing businesses (serving millions of customers across the UK), we discovered two were under-utilising tools for effective rostering of the workforce, and a third a stock management system. In each case we speedily gained an understanding of what the client had bought and its full functionality – and also what they initially wanted to achieve. In all cases, it turned out that the right things were bought; they just weren’t being used properly.

We developed new processes for the businesses so they could reap the benefits of their investments, and then developed training and coaching sessions for their teams, which our experienced trainers ran. By highlighting simple steps for the users, we brought the systems to life – and quickly realised cash benefits many times greater than the investment in the training.

So if you are currently feeling hacked off about your software purchase, give Mobius a call. You never know, you might have bought a better system than you think.

Former Watson Wyatt Worldwide consultant, Jackie Haffenden comes to us with substantial experience in commercial management, human resources, business transformation and change

Posted by Lynne on November 27, 2015  /   Posted in People

Jackie-Haffenden-600Say ‘hello’ to Jackie Haffenden, who recently joined the Mobius team and is already working with Travelodge managing a programme for their Central Operations team, scoping a number of projects for 2016.

This former Watson Wyatt Worldwide consultant, whose background is in retail, pharmaceutical and financial services, is an accomplished Human Resources Director and Business Transformation and Change Manager. Having worked across the UK, Ireland, Europe, the Middle East, North Africa and Asia, Jackie is no stranger to the importance of correctly observing different cultures and customs.

She has substantial board level experience, managing HR and business teams through critical business changes, such as organisation re-design, new business start-ups, mergers and acquisitions, joint ventures/separations, business relocation and restructuring. Most recently in the pharmaceutical industry, managing a number of team restructures as a result of changes in the NHS.

With a strong commercial background and broad range of business skills, Jackie excels in strategic, operational and consultancy roles. You’ll find she leads and develops teams to achieve stretch business targets through innovation, energy, challenge, resilience and pragmatism.

She’s come a long way since starting in the commercial management team at Marks & Spencer – and we’re glad she’s decided to join our ranks. She puts her success down to her holistic approach, ensuring commercial planning and people management are aligned as the business grows.

Past clients agree, describing her as “Pragmatic, down to earth, results orientated, extremely skilled and objective.”

We say Jackie truly is one in a million!

Oh no, not another initiative!

Posted by Lynne on November 02, 2015  /   Posted in Process, Strategy, Systems

What? Change doesn’t necessarily mean transformation? The next thing you’ll be telling us is that the Earth is round and not flat!

Chris-PlanningOver the past 30 years, Chris has been personally involved in many companies’ change ‘initiatives’, and watched from a distance as many others try to remake themselves. Such as Barclays, Rentokil, Wolseley, to name a few.

Personal involvement has included large companies who were successful in their markets, such as Sainsbury’s, recognising the need to evolve through some remodelling of process, people and IT. Through to much smaller ones like Travelodge, where the threat of failure created an immediate engagement in a Company Voluntary Administration for survival.

Initiatives come with a multitude of titles: re-engineering, business transformation, leadership through teamwork, supporting teams to achieve results, simplifying store operations, SMART, building better business, rightsizing, total quality management, performance improvement centre of operations…

Yet in the most simple form they all have one aim: to maximise competitive advantage in their market, or to change the ‘way things get done round here’ in order to be better placed to cope with the challenges of their changing market conditions.

In some cases, the results may not reach the intended benefits but, in each and every case, something – or more likely someone – will have changed a working method, their thinking, attitude or something else, as a result of that ‘initiative’ being signed off to fly. However, change can be just another initiative but transformation cannot!

The most general learning is that whilst change can be achieved in a ‘one off’, successful transformation follows a series of steps: some iterative, some in parallel and always over a considerable amount of time. Shortcutting or missing steps may create an illusion of pace and of achieving the desired future state sooner … but inevitably, by not following the given path, mistakes are made with a resultant and hard bite on the bum that slows momentum and reduces the appetite for change.

So, what are these steps?

  1. Create the burning platform – no going back, the choice is no choice, forward only. Dissenters are listened to and influenced through encouragement, but are not allowed to slow the rolling stone of inevitability. An engaging approach where right upfront you’re clear that your aim is to understand your business, your people and your business aims, such that together you’re aiming for outcomes that are meaningful, supported and measurable.
  2. Establish a strong vision that allows simple clarity for all and is sold by the leadership, who ‘walk the talk’ at all times to all people. From birth, we adopt and adapt our ways from the actions, words and compromises of those we see around us – and business change works in much the same way. Getting your hands dirty in your business for honest, and to the point, opinion based on the ‘live’ observation of your business, its market, the economic and political forces it faces will help build knowledge. Armed with this, you can publish a Project Charter that really gets the clarity of objectives that will bind your organisation together and ensure delivery of your initiative.
  3. Recruit an empowered team (and don’t compromise) with the right capabilities for the specific project: a team that will enjoy what they have to do. ‘Right people, right place, right time’ makes for an effective and high performing team.
  4. Plan the project thoroughly, taking the time for ruthless analysis in order to get to the ‘nub’ of the matter. Deep dive through the layers and complexities of your business to unearth both the opportunities and, as importantly, the ‘sacred cows’. This will help you create and agree realistic change actions that will deliver the vision.
  5. Communicate, communicate, communicate the vision – the benefits, the consequences, and the current position. It should be totally unacceptable for anyone affected by the change to have missed its point. Tell it from the rooftops to the foundations to ensure that you maximize soaring eagles and minimise the squawking parrots!
  6. The Earth is round – start it all over again!







Opening doors to the bigger stores

Posted by Lynne on August 13, 2015  /   Posted in People, Process, Procurement

When you possess the knowledge bank of how blue chip retail businesses operate and, more importantly, what they look from their suppliers, it can really open doors.

In fact, some of our consultants, with their in-depth, high level retail experience, can guide you through the whole process from product concept to checkout. During which you will gain an insight as to how a buyer in a large retailer thinks and acts when building a range architecture.

As part of the process, they will teach you:

  • How to build a critical path (everything from product set up to product launch and all key stages in-between);
  • Which series of buttons to press to get the buyer’s attention;
  • How to open a dialogue and build a rapport with the right category partners;
  • How to pitch your product;
  • Which mediums to use;
  • How to get the timing just right;
  • How to avoid potential pitfalls; and ultimately
  • How to get the sale.

Acquiring this knowledge and these invaluable skills from experienced consultants, like John Green, Anita Pearse or Jonathan Clark, who have all successfully brought directs and indirects to the shelves of Tesco, Sainsbury, the Co-operative et al, will pay dividends. For help in bringing your products to market, make sure you get to the front of the queue!

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