What exactly is Reverse Lifecycle Management ?
As many of you know, I recently authored a white paper titled Reverse Lifecycle Management: The Next Opportunity in Reverse Logistics. I received a lot of favorable comments from people who took the time to download and read the article. Thank’s so much . There were, or course, a few readers who expressed words of caution about the promise of the Reverse Life-cycle Management (RLM) concepts discussed in the paper. One person commented that an optimal RLM system based on best practices might be a good idea but without good project management and a willingness by the client to re-engineer some business processes the best solution can easily turn into a nightmare. Another person expressed concern about the quality of data being captured by the system. Their view was that a RLM solution may be world class but if it doesn’t collect that right data to improve operating effeciency and productivity or product performance, then it is useless.
Well, I couldn’t agree any stronger. Good project management and executive level buy-in are critical to a successful RLM implementation. I would say these components are important to any type of initiative that involves change. This is also true with respect to caputuring good, useful and reliable data as expressed by the old adage… “garbage in/garbage out”. RLM must consider the needs are all stakeholders, and that is an important distinction and decision that designers of a RLM solution need to take into account. Who are the stake-holders? Where do they fit in? What is their relationship? Where to they have an impact? These are are questions that must be answered when determining what type of data needs to be captured in the RLM solution.
One of the greatest benefits of RLM, and there are many, is that it provides a systemic platform for capturing, managing, analyzing and disseminating critical business intelligence necessary for optimizing an Reverse Logistics Operation regardless of the end-user's demographics (i.e., years in business, number of employees, market served, number of customers, type of business, etc.). Basically, RLM is a strategic framework for defining system functional requirements. Our view, which is supported by very extensive market research is that the current R.L. systemic infrastructures of most OEMs/3PSPs/Retailers/etc. are very fragmented and lack critical feature functionality for capturing critical data about the R.L. Supply Chain. Up until now, RL Supply Chain professionals have not had many available options for resolving systemic issues such as data accuracy, visibility, root cause analysis, etc. Instead, these professionals have had to either ignore the situation, create workarounds, or use brute force to resolve problems as they occurred. This in turn has had negative consequences on operating costs, personnel productivity, and the overall customer experience.
RLM is a new industry standard and will help entrenched management mitigate and avoid the above challenges by helping them to anticipate, plan, and monitor RL events. I hope you will see the value of the RLM concept. Please share with me you thoughts, comments, and criticisms so that we may continue to build awareness of the challenges and potential solutions to Reverse Life-cycle Management.