The Coronavirus disease (COVID-19) pandemic shook the entire world. In a matter of weeks, hundreds of thousands of people lost their jobs, schools were closed down and supply chains were being tested to the absolute limit. Still, the world became more empathetic, and no one more so than Richard Lebovitz, CEO and founder of LeanDNA.
For more than 30 years, Lebovitz has been fighting for his employees. He has worked with manufacturers in a range of industries, empowering people to manage complex supply chains with best practices and technology that enable efficiency. In just 2020, he worked with 30 manufacturers to prevent critical shortages, establish operational command and uncover working capital.
Lebovitz’s hard work and dedication to improving the supply chain and logistics industry, especially in a time of global crisis, has earned him the top honor as Supply & Demand Chain Executive’s 2021 Pro to Know of the Year.
2020 has proven that supply chain leaders are expected to be a source of knowledge, adapters to change, passionate for the industry and mentors to future leaders, all while maintaining a level of empathy and grace for those they work along with. For the last 21 years, SDCE has highlighted these individuals, spotlighting them as the Pros to Knows within the industry.
“To me, to actually get the recognition for [the Pros to Know] gives [LeanDNA] validation that what we're doing is really important. We don't really go out there and pursue a lot of recognition. Sometimes we just are quietly delivering results and really work closely with our customers. But, to not only be named as Pro to Know of the Year, but to get recognized for what we're doing – I think it’s great,” says Lebovitz.
Watch the SDCE editors interview Richard Lebovitz on Link Live.
Every year, SDCE’s editorial staff vets hundreds of nominations for the Pros to Know award in order to find the best leaders within the supply chain industry. Those selected are named to the Pros to Know list, which encompasses professionals from every corner of the industry. The job becomes more difficult each year as more individuals step up to the plate and make a name for themselves.
And, Lebovitz has done just that.
In 2014, Lebovitz launched LeanDNA, a provider of factor-focused inventory optimization solutions. Under his leadership, the company expanded its software footprint to over 30 global manufacturers across more than 250 global sites in 17 countries. Still, he considers the company a startup and is working on improving it every single year.
“The great thing about startups is you tend to go work for one because you really want to make a difference and do something new and innovative,” says Lebovitz. “The interesting aspect of COVID is it really took a lot of what we were pushing around digital transformation, and really focusing on making life easier for the day-to-day life of factory managers and procurement professionals. A lot of what we've been talking about over the last seven years, now everybody's trying to move in that direction out of necessity. There's no doubt it's been challenging for a lot of companies.”
But, Lebovitz has turned those challenges into opportunities for many of his customers.
“What's unique about what [LeanDNA] doing is bringing together the technology and understanding that business problem to really deal with a lot of the critical trends that are taking place today. I think the biggest thing is that shift from the factory, being this kind of black box. And in supply chain planning and demand planning being a very top-down approach, we see the opportunity to kind of turn that around where the factory now becomes this kind of centerpiece for what you do,” says Lebovitz.
Even so, technology has greatly advanced since LeanDNA first began operating seven years ago. Previously, factories made everything from beginning to end. Now, they’re shifting more to just assembly, having to rely upon thousands of suppliers around the globe to actually make the parts. On top of that, product customization is only going to increase. Both situations are putting an enormous amount of pressure on factories.
“Spreadsheets and homegrown solutions just don't work anymore. Because of those two trends, which started from the top down from sales and marketing to demand planning, it ends up hitting the factory and the factories are really struggling with what to do,” explains Lebovitz. “It's not just technology in general, but it's very purpose-built technology from a workflow perspective. It's leveraging the cloud and SaaS, so you can deploy quickly and more importantly, support remote factories all over the world. In this whole area of advanced analytics and AI is becoming an opportunity to leverage and not only around the analytics, but to start to learn about the unique aspects of every factory.”
A part of implementing new solutions is controlling change management, though. Having lived it from the factory level, Lebovitz suggests getting fully connected to systems in a shortened amount of time instead of dragging it out over months on end. He explains that LeanDNA is able to get its software connected to fully existing systems within 4-6 weeks, not only driving value, but also making the day-to-day life easier for workers.
“So, the combination of quick deployment really focused on value and getting users in the tool and liking it every day; it starts to get people excited, you start to see people wanting to change,” says Lebovitz. “Once you achieve that and people start to see the results, then people start to talk about the technology. We found that is very successful, but it puts a lot of pressure on us. If it's harder to use, or it doesn't work, or it doesn't achieve the results, everything stops.”
Even though it has been a challenging year, collaboration has not stopped within the supply chain. With most companies still working remotely, employees are now in the position where they live at work instead of being able to leave it at the office. Now more than ever, the supply chain is relying on one another to successfully complete their round because if something goes wrong, it could potentially disrupt more people, forcing them to work longer hours or weekends. Lebovitz explains that his goal is to continue to make the supply chain more visible, so that employees can have their lives back.
“When I think about what gets our team the most excited is that, ultimately, using technology to make people’s lives better and solving real problems that deliver better results makes their work even more rewarding to their peers and managers,” says Lebovitz.