Category Archives: Human Logistics

Final nGroup Q & A: Break Out 5

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This is the last nGroup break out! We hope you’ve enjoyed reading the answers to questions we have commonly been asked.  If you have any others, please ask by contacting or tweeting at us @ngrouppartners.  Hope to hear your feedback soon!

How do you incent productivity without harming quality?
We put incentives in place and include disincentives for poor quality. Employees are only paid on first quality throughput and they lose incentive for passing on a product that is not up to standard.  Quality checks are also designed into the process. nGROUP understands the cost to quality, we can implement a program that reduces billing for sub-par quality and increases billing for exceptional quality. All product quantities and quality are confirmed by you as work is completed. This assures that quality processes have independent inspections.

How do I recover cost while investing?
nGROUP works with our partners to develop pricing structures that encourage investment and improvement.  The pricing structure results in the ability to easily cost justify improvements by evaluating investment vs. expected savings.

How do I capture year over year cost savings?
The savings are different in each location.  Operational improvements and savings are contingent on factors such as flexibility within the operation, extent of nGROUP’s services, work content changes from year to year, and the ever changing costs associated with labor.  It is typical to see savings of 3-5% from year to year.

What is the cost to use the nGROUP solution?
The only loser in the program is the inefficiency in the process.  If we cannot remove these inefficiencies and find a way to save you money, we will tell you that your operation is not an application. We do require a $10,000 upfront assessment fee but if we find that our program cannot help save you at least 10% we’ll fully refund the assessment fee.

How are new employees screened?
All employees are screened according to our client’s requirements.  This always include I-9 verification for appropriate work status and can incorporate full drug testing, background checks, and credit checks when required.

How does nGROUP train employees?
Training employees is a cornerstone of our program.  Each employee receives a location and client specific orientation package that includes a written training curriculum as well as hands on training on site.  nGROUP’s orientation program has proven to improve both productivity and quality for new employees.

How will nGROUP comply with all safety requirements?
nGROUP starts by mimicking our client’s safety programs.  We then utilize regional safety coordinators to assess risks and evaluate the program.  Specific risks are identified and improved so that we can maintain a safe working environment.  We also apply incentives for safety and ongoing safety results.

What happens if an nGROUP employee is injured?
nGROUP has a standardized process to ensure employees are treated at local medical facilities in a fast, responsible manner.  The onsite representative will work with the employee to certify the process is followed.

nGroup Q & A: Break Out 3

Can nGROUP help increase sales and be more competitive?
nGROUP’s program minimizes labor cost and improves key operational metrics such as turnaround time and quality.  This allows our partners to be extremely competitive versus the market.  In addition, outsourcing the operational components provides your team with the ability to focus on more strategic areas of your business.  nGROUP is also committed to continuous improvement  so you will continue to outperform your competitors.

How does nGROUP’s program affect our employees?
We focus on individual productivity within our program.  We only accomplish our goals with successful employees.  When appropriate, we are glad to discuss opportunities to join the nGROUP team in order to maintain the tribal knowledge of our client’s operation.

How do I maintain control of the operation?
During our assessment and implementation, the nGROUP team will interview important shareholders to ensure our partners are comfortable with the reporting structure, inventory handling, production tracking, or whatever information is important.  We also develop processes that confirm quality, production, and billing data with our partner.  Our quarterly business reviews (QBR) are always an opportunity to review and adjust what we all find important.  In the end, inventory, process, and product never leave your facility.

nGroup Q & A: Break Out 2

Why do you think you can do it better than we can do it?
Outsourcing is not a zero sum game.  Many organizations fail to understand that the sum of the parts actually exceed the whole. 

By adding nGROUP, you are bringing additional resources to your operation to enhance your overall performance.  nGROUP has experience working with market leaders across the nation where we have had the privilege to develop, learn, and utilize world class best practices.  In addition nGROUP is dedicated to the improvement of our client’s operations.  All of our resources are utilized and trained to optimize our clients operation.  The nGROUP team is continually updated on the latest improvements from across our partner base.  We also invest in continued education for our team, develop and continue to invest in technology, tools, and solutions to improve our service offering.  By working together, we create synergies and benefits that were not possible previously.

Why outsource your operation?
nGROUP focuses on operational processes within your facilities to reduce cost, while improving productivity, quality, service levels, and reducing liabilities.  We allow your current management team to focus on strategic issues rather than the day to day burden of production and labor challenges.  Our world class team and processes along with our partners ultimate insight ensures you maintain control and receive the service and results you desire.

nGroup Q & A: Break Out 1

How can I be sure we will receive savings with nGROUP and the pricing is firm?
Our approach allows us to be aggressive with our pricing structure and helps build our partnership on a strong foundation.  To start, during our assessment process, the nGROUP team will work directly with the major shareholders within the facility to understand the cost structures within the operation and ensure we understand the process flow.  We also complete engineering analysis through time studies, work observation and historical data collection.  Our engineers and analysts compare our findings and confirm our conclusions with you.    Our benefits case will be developed using the verified results.  

How does nGROUP help in the areas of compliance, regulations, and legal?
nGROUP’s program mitigates co-employment issues for our partners.  Because we hire, manage, and discipline our employees, we keep you protected.  By maintaining the operation on your premises, you do not lose control of your data and information.  Your IT infrastructure is utilized and you can make certain data is always secure.  nGROUP maintains strict documentation and confidentiality policy as an addition safeguard.  In addition to these compliance items, our safety coordinators work with your team to enhance OSHA compliance and develop comprehensive safety programs.  The largest impact is the control over co-employment issues.  Because nGROUP hires, manages, disciplines, determine work tasks and hours, we are the legal employer, removing our clients from the ever rising tide of employee litigation.

What to Consider When Renegotiating Your Staffing Agency Contract

By David Hair

For many companies, third quarter is a time to review contract renewals for the upcoming year.  In the case of labor-intensive operations, this often means renegotiating staffing agency contracts.  If you are heading to the negotiating table, here are some things to consider BEFORE you sign.

As reported in “Business Management Daily” the number of lawsuits involving flexible workers is rising.  Such lawsuits are resulting more and more against both the staffing agency and the hosting employer.  From issues such as background checks to liability coverage, there are crucial elements that need to be included in your staffing contract.  Leaving the details up to the agency can often result in your company lacking necessary legal protection. Here are some things to consider:

  1. Spell out what background checks should cover
  2. Include an indemnification clause
  3. Attach your organization to the agency’s liability coverage
  4. Guarantee that you can review the results of background checks
  5. Make sure you can terminate the contract with 30 days notice
  6. Comply with federal and state laws.

Beyond negotiating staffing contracts that include these six elements, you should also think about an emerging labor solution pioneered by nGROUP performance partners, known as Third Party Human Logistics (3PHL).   Like staffing agencies, nGROUP provides a flexible workforce.  That’s where the similarities stop.  This 3PHL model also provides engineering process and labor performance management, guarantees a reduction in labor costs, mitigates co-employment issues, and solves ObamaCare and other workforce compliance issues.

nGROUP also provides outcome-based production and pricing guarantees AND adds a double layer of legal protection since nGROUP contracts with the staffing company, and manages the line production.

Major companies throughout the US have recently been moving away from a direct contract with staffing firms after evaluating the impressive cost improvement and legal advantages of a 3PHL firm, like nGROUP performance partners.

For more information and case studies, please visit www.ngroup.biz or call 877-202-9677.

From Pit Row to Production Floor: How To Make Seconds Count

By David Hair

It takes perfect timing to win the Indianapolis 500.  The fastest Indy500 was completed in 1990 by Arie Luyendyk  with an average speed of 185.981  mph.  In 1997 Luyendyk won the Indy500 again by .570 seconds.  This year the 97th Indy500 takes place on May 26 and as the most legendary automotive race in the world.  It’s certainly every racer’s dream to chug milk in victory lane and take home the Borg-Warner Trophy.

While the trophy and milk are traditions unique to the Indy500, the sport of racing has evolved technologically. Their success is dependent upon tactful preparation but their ability to outperform the competition can now be measured by a fraction of a second.

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Much like the sport of racing, performance in today’s global marketplace means that manufacturing and distribution companies throughout the U.S. must adopt strategic plans that account for every detail of their operations.   If every step, every second, and every work cell of an operation affects the outcome of a company’s performance, what contemporary strategy and technological advantage provides the competitive edge?

The solution for winning in business is the same as winning the Indy500 – make every second count.  Companies must develop an experienced team, build strategic partnerships. Technology and processes need to be predictable, precise, and measurable.  Above all, the strategy MUST provide the desired outcome.  In the case of companies involving labor-intensive operations, one such strategy is Third Party Human Logistics (3PHL).

While 3PL providers are more common in the marketplace, nGROUP performance partners created the 3PHL business model.  The training, management, and measurement of the HUMAN factor makes a significant difference in outcome.  As efficiency experts, nGROUP helps companies achieve high levels of performance – meeting or exceeding production and quality standards.   To learn more about nGROUP’s 3PHL model and how this model makes every second count, visit www.ngroup.biz.

Baseball and Business

By Jim Zimmerman

If you are a baseball fan chances are you’ve seen the 2011 movie Moneyball, starring Brad Pitt.  The movie focuses on the rise of advanced statistical analysis in Major League Baseball and is based on the Oakland’s A’s 2002 season when they won 103 games.

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As a baseball fan and an operations officer, one line from the movie struck me.  “It’s about using stats to reread them [players].  We’ll find the value of players that nobody else can see. People are over looked for a variety of biased reasons and perceived flaws . . .  Mathematics cuts straight through that.”

The movie went on to show how the most minute statistics determine the best probability to win a game, a matchup, and an at bat.  Stats indicate how batters match up versus a specific pitcher, in a specific park, or in a very specific situation.

In business we can learn from baseball.  Too often companies let “meaningless” information slip through their fingertips.  As Carly Fiorina (former President of Hewlett-Packard Co) once said, “The goal is to transform data into information, and information into insight.”

Just like pitchers, fielders, and batters, a company’s workforce is positioned to succeed or not each day.  If aligned differently, could we better react to that influx of orders, or improve productivity, or reduce overtime, or hit a game winning grand slam?

If we don’t capture the data and evaluate the results against previous situations, we will never know or understand the cause and effect of big changes, much less the small tweaks and minor alignment variations. So how do we collect and apply the infinite volume of information we have around us? A system.

The system is a process that takes inputs and generates outputs, takes actions and ends with results.  As you change the actions, you get differing results.  Pinch-hitting a batter during a preferred scenario gives a team a higher probability of the desired outcome.  Changing our workforce configuration, placing various individuals in certain positions, or insinuating different behaviors can create entirely unique conclusions.

Play ball!

The Unique Conditions of 2013 Will Affect Your Company’s 2023 Prosperity

By David Hair

In 2012, an Aberdeen Group study1 surveyed 156 multi-national enterprises with 91 headquartered in the US and 65 headquartered internationally.  The purpose of the study was to identify best practices in labor management, warehouse, and store operations.  Below is a graph that summarizes the top pressures facing such companies.

It’s no surprise that the top pressures are the executive directives to decrease operating expenses and reduce staff, while also increasing service levels.

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Adding to this top pressure, U.S. corporations and individuals are facing 13 tax increases in 2013.  While the 2% increase in the Social Security tax has gained the most attention in recent months, there are additional taxes on business investment and the elimination of corporate tax deductions – most of which are associated with the passage of the Affordable Care Act.  Regardless of whether you personally or politically agree with such increases, the fact remains. When the cost of business increases, measures must be taken to off-set the rising costs.  The question becomes, what are you going to do about it?

To neutralize the tax impact, relook at innovative and proven labor strategies. As reported in the same Aberdeen Study, best-in-class companies have already universally incorporated strategic actions to increase labor efficiency and better manage workforce productivity. Such strategies include:

  1. Streamlining Processes and Systems
  2. Increasing Automation
  3. Bolstering Labor Productivity

No one wants to pay higher taxes or lose valuable investment deductions, but when you are faced with circumstances beyond your control, the logical rebuttal is to incorporate an aggressive approach to cost reduction while improving quality and reducing risk. While the economic landscape in the U.S. has become challenging to say the least, we at nGROUP know that our innovative performance model delivers immediate and long-lasting results.

It solves both the cost improvement and increased service level issues.  It closes the gap between your corporate initiatives and what actually happens on the production floor.  This new performance partnership model keeps production in your facility for local quality control, but without new investment in additional automation.  As a result, this model immediately reduces cost and risk, while increasing throughput.  Average savings on labor costs range from 10-40% within the first year. Perhaps the most significant benefit is it also provides a double-layer of protection from labor risk, as in this business model, the 3-party provides the labor.

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1 “Analyst Insight: Best Practices in Labor Management for Manufacturing, Warehouse and Store Operations: US and International Trends,” The Aberdeen Group,