Friday, November 4, 2016

The Sky is Falling


People often ask me what I do for a living, even though they seem to have the gist of what it is I do. My correct title is MRO which loosely stands for Maintenance, Repairs and Operations. In some cases the O stands for Overhaul, but in my case it stands for Operations. Why the semantics of the last word is very important is simply in the extra responsibilities it gives you. Maintenance, Repairs and Overhaul would signify that my job is simply to purchase the materials and services necessary to keep the machinery up and running, but the addition of Operations means that I am responsible for the purchase of the materials and services to keep the facility in general up and running. It would seem pretty simply correct?

Unfortunately like any other position in just about any other job, there are people involved and because of this, nothing seems to go smoothly regardless of how much preparation I give towards controlling situations. I can be as droll as I wish when someone comes to me with a "the sky is falling" situation, and no time for costing. Most people in my industry would tell you that this is normal, and the smartest among us know that getting an ulcer over these things is a terrible waste of energy. Luckily an ulcer isn't something you can get through contagion because I try not to make it painless for any individual who is under the pressure of a falling sky. Actually I can count on one hand the people that will do this to me, and do it to me often. Most people actually "grasp" the sourcing process, and work within the normal boundaries.

The latest of the "sky is falling" scenarios was centered around labels that had to be affixed to the packaging of every box that ships in a specific order. First thing to know is that "labels" or anything else that is affixed to a retail product are not a Maintenance, Repair or Operations, but it does become my problem when they haven't been ordered, and the run is coming up. The RMB (Raw Materials Buyer) would usually be the person to purchase these items, and that (of course) requires planning, and shipping. Neither of those items are available when something is needed in three days, so then it becomes an "Operations" issue. In other words the retail segment (which is basically what gets the factory paid) is in dire need of remaining on time. My first goal is of course to make this uncomfortable, lest it happens more often.

I learned the art of repairing a falling sky from one of my heroes (Mr Scott from Star Trek) and the best way to create miracle worker status, and to keep the ulcers growing in the bellies of others and not myself, is to first make the situation impossible to solve. This is easier than it seems because the person demanding that you stop the sky from falling has already exhausted their own means of accomplishing the feat of brilliance, or never bothered to consider having means to solve problems to begin with. I of course have the number of a digital marketing team who I can drive to and get these things solved. Of course it is expensive as all get out, but as I said, I ain't getting an ulcer over these things. The trick at this point is just finding a place in my desk to hide these things, so that I can run out and hand them to whoever needs them at the very last second. That ulcer in their belly ain't going to grow itself?