What to do when the light bulb goes on



A few months ago at work, my light bulb went on and thought of an idea to see how we can ship the freshest batch of product to a customer along with saving company money.

The customer requires that we ship them product with 80% shelf life on only 3 different batch codes.   The product is made at our co-packer in Carol Stream, IL and we have to ship to the customers location in Monroe, NJ.   The shipping process was to ship out of our warehouse in Atlanta, GA to Monroe, NJ.   So, we would make the product at Carol Stream, IL, schedule a trailer to transfer the product to our shipping warehouse in Atlanta, GA then have a carrier pick up the product to have it delivered to the customers location in Monroe, NJ.   To avoid the middleman in Atlanta, GA, I worked with our co-packer to see if it was possible to ship directly from Carol Stream, IL directly to the customer in Monroe, NJ.   Shipping direct from co-packers to the customer is not the norm so this would be a project that I had to lead up to ensure all parties were capable on making this a success.

First, I reached out to a PM expert to coach me through the process.  Sophie was a tremendous help and guided me from start to finish.   She was able to step in and support me when I needed it the most. Working with different segments of the company can be tricky to ensure everyone works together and is on the same page especially when there were a lot of people involved with this.  We had to work with our systems department to ensure we can change the shipping location from the normal warehouse to the co-packer since it wasn’t set up already.   We worked with demand planning to ensure they would be able to make the product in time for the order to be picked up and also worked with the billing department to confirm that the invoice would still be paid since the shipping location wouldn’t say our company’s name but the co-packers name.   We met once a week for 5 months and within this time expressed the risks and challenges we could face.  We made sure to iron everything out before the first shipment.   This all had to be seamless to the customer.   The day the order was being shipped, Sophie and I went to the warehouse to ensure there were no issues with the paperwork and meet with the logistics team at the co-packer.   We took pictures along with videos to share with our team back at the office to show that we accomplished our goal.

At the end of the project, we shipped the freshest product and decreased shipping time along with saving the company over $60k per year.  This project was a success and now use this project has a pathway to shipping other items from the co-packer.

Have you ever had an idea and saw it come to life at work?

6 thoughts on “What to do when the light bulb goes on

  1. Congratulations on the success of your project, Jessica. I had some success at my work that I’m proud of too. I’m heavily involved in the scheduling of scientific experiments that require the participation of several departments other than mine. Our legacy practice involved the tracking of these experiments on an Excel spreadsheet that was periodically shared with stakeholders through email. Even when we attempted to post this spreadsheet in a shared location (an eRoom), there were frequently version control problems. I began experimenting with SharePoint, and recognized the advantages that lists and views can have over spreadsheets. I demonstrated this SharePoint list to our IT department, and they launched a project with consultants that ultimately produced a customized operational scheduling application that is integral to our organization’s operating efficiency. Implementation was certainly a challenge, but well worth it. It’s gratifying when ideas that seem obvious, like cutting out the middle man or using a superior software program, can be put into place with effective project managers and committed stakeholders on the business side.

  2. That is a great story, Jessica, and a good example of how to turn an idea into a model for success. It’s incredible how often people continue to do what they’ve always done even if there is room for savings or improvement. But what impresses me the most is that you took your idea and saw it through. I count roughly 20 meetings just to make sure you guys got it right! I hope you received a bonus ☺

    I frequently come up with light bulb ideas, however I am not in a position to turn them into action. I recently participated in a Sales/Marketing meeting where we discussed short term, long term, and stretch goals for our products. We divided our ideas into 4 quadrants of feasibility. Although my three ideas landed in the most difficult level of execution, I could see some of the executive team’s eyes’ widen as I gave my pitch. I hope that I will have the opportunity to reach a position where I can actually make a difference the way you have!

  3. Great post Jessica, congratulations on your successful project. It’s a great example of how effective planning and execution driven by high levels of motivation can accomplish. It’s critical to have guidance and help from more experienced workers like Sophie. While working as a Risk Analyst for micro and small enterprises, I met an entrepreneur who recycled various types of plastic to make shoe soles. He used these for his raw materials, and created the machines himself to keep costs low. Not long after this entrepreneur started his business, he contracted with the biggest shoe manufacturer in Bolivia. He was applying for a loan that would help him to enhance their machines. Most of the markets in Bolivia are Informal and while he did not file tax returns nor had financial statements, it was apparent that it was an extremely profitable business. So, I had to be more creative in his financial analysis projecting new cashflows due to an increase in quantity produce. This was a breakthrough since for micro and small enterprises the valuations were only focus in cash flows and didn’t took on consideration the positive impact of the loan, the new quantity produce and the potential revenue. Later my valuation was used as an example for future analysis.

  4. I like your post a lot. Although the post doesn’t conclude management theory, but when I read it, I can definitely feel the useful experience behind it.
    The second day I joined my last company, a challenge at work divided to me, leading a project that introduced HRI system to a certain test department. I felt swamped right away. New environment, new job, new colleagues, and the only support I had was from my boss. Another horrible thing was I got this project because another colleague didn’t perform last month and my boss was not satisfied with her work. So I felt like I got a enemy before started doing work.

    As you said, when you are the first one to do something, we need to break old rules and build a lot of new rules and connections. Basically I divided my work to three parts. 1) Familiarize myself with the e-system, get technology support from the e-system supplier. 2) Created a project plan and build relation with all involved departments. 3) Look for all kinds of support from my boss to push the project(I had no authority when I first came to the company). Although it had new problem pop up everyday, but these were the three major parts to follow.

    So I think an experienced and/or a supportive community is necessary for doing a new project. Utilizing all the resource you have. Also I feel like it’s a little bit difficult to do a risk plan when you face something new… Is there anyone that has good suggestion for this question?

  5. Jessica, great article! Breaking old rules and building new rules are key. This light bulb method is a proven success, your a great critical thinker. When doing projects you need a great support system to back you up and help give you insight. With little support headaches will rise when projects are given and your in charge. I will use this method and follow through with future projects, thank you!

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