Help for Beleaguered Operations Managers

Jan 01, 2003 10:30 PM  By

THE YEAR WAS 1993. Dot-commers were still in grade school, corporate greed hadn’t made international headlines, and planes were safe to fly. Yet, operations executives faced difficult challenges. “While they understood that providing outstanding service was a major competitive advantage, economic realities were forcing deep budget cuts,” wrote then-editor Charles Tannen in the first issue of Operations & Fulfillment, published in January 1993.

A decade later, Tannen’s words are eerily contemporary. Although our world has changed beyond anything we could ever have imagined, the basic conditions of business haven’t. Consider, for example, some of the stories O+F ran ten years ago this month: “Inventory Management Strategies: Nine Keys to Profitability,” “Breakthrough Systems Management,” “Does Great Customer Service Really Pay Off?” — none of these topics would be out-of-date today. Our appearance has changed dramatically (see our very first cover, below left), but we still aim to do what Tannen and his mentor, fulfillment guru Stanley J. Fenvessy (who passed away in 1994), planned to accomplish when they launched the magazine. In the editorial he wrote for the first issue, Tannen promised that O+F would be the reader’s “trusted source of high-caliber, in-depth information.” Even back then, when O+F’s coverage was restricted to catalog operations, Tannen had an inkling of just how far-reaching the discipline of operations could become. Operations & Fulfillment, he wrote, would be “devoted exclusively to the interests of executives responsible for human resources, warehousing, order processing, communications, call centers, transportation, customer service, materials handling, MIS, shipping, packaging, finance, and general management.” Tannen invited readers to help him chart the magazine’s course, and now as then, we continue to extend that invitation.

A PERFECT 10

As O+F celebrates its tenth anniversary this year, we remember fulfillment maven Stanley J. Fenvessy (who almost single-handedly established the fulfillment industry) in the words of professionals who worked with him.

  • “What strikes me is that companies like NewRoads wouldn’t even exist if it weren’t for Stanley. He drew people’s attention to fulfillment operations.”
    David Himes, NewRoads

  • “Stanley was so enthusiastic, and he had boundless enthusiasm. He gave me some invaluable advice, telling me the do’s and don’ts of being a consultant. He was my mentor in a lot of ways.”
    Al Schmidt, The Schmidt Group Intl.

  • “Stanley Fenvessy earned his status of ‘icon’ by being so fundamentally correct. The array of philosophies that have paraded past us since he last spoke, including just-in-time logistics, constraint theory, TQM, lean manufacturing, supply chain management, benchmarking, and others are all useful tools, but are simply derivative restatements of the simple concepts I learned from him.”
    Steve Harris, Harris & Harris Consulting, VT

Time Bomb

“Certain events have made us very concerned about the possibility of receiving a package containing a bomb. What precautions should we follow to reduce the chances of an explosion?” Contrary to what you may think, that question wasn’t posed recently. It was published in the late Stanley J. Fenvessy’s classic manual, Fenvessy on Fulfillment: The Catalog Executive’s Guide — published in 1988. Clearly, the more things change. …
RR