Do you run a business that is growing so fast that you need a Supply Chain Planning System? Congratulations!
You will definitely face a number of challenges, which I wrote about some time ago for the Logistics Manager Magazine in an article – Digital twin in analog reality. But you can deal with them.
Selecting and implementing a Supply Chain Planning System is a journey that the entire organization must take. During this journey, you have to plan and manage not only technical aspects but also people with different experience and their… emotions.
To make life easier for yourself and others, please consider the following Decalogue based on my own experiences and conversations with other experts in the industry.
Note: if you are already at the partner selection stage (item 7. below), you can also go directly to the following article – How to choose the Supply Chain Planning System?
Planning a systemic journey
Even before everything starts, consider the following steps.
1) Gathering requirements: identification, categorization, and prioritization are mandatory. Check what business, functional, technical, and organizational requirements you need to meet. Remember that not all requirements can have the same priority. Try to understand what is the key success factor (or necessity), what are the mid-term goals, and what is worth (but not necessary) to deliver.
2) Looking at the perspective: check, discuss, and if necessary, plan the growth of your organization for at least the next 3 years. Consider whether functional and technical requirements will change as a result of this growth. The Supply Chain Planning System must be scalable.
3) Sponsorship and support of the top management: firstly, only by knowing the organization’s business model can you choose priorities; secondly, without the support of the management board, it is not possible to carry out such a major change. So take care of excellent relations between board members and the involvement of each of them.
4) Team, change management, and motivation: providing information about planned changes is only the first step. To be successful, you need to get the team to lead the project. They also need to be supported and properly motivated. Remember that they will often make a revolution within their functional teams. Appreciate the courage you demand of them.
5) Preparing the budget: make sure to keep a few percent of the safety cushion in the budget in case of unforeseen changes or random events. In project management, dealing with uncertainty is a must.
6) Project plan: present and discuss all possible shifts in advance to all stakeholders, and develop contingency scenarios. Make sure everyone is aware of what still needs to be done after the formal end of the project – the learning curve in the organization usually requires a minimum of a year of work on a new tool before users start to achieve target results.
A digital journey into the depths of the company
Are you ready? If so, consider a few more things.
7) Partner selection process: don’t waste your time and energy on long and exhausting bidding processes. The Supply Chain Planning System is so extensive that the supplier will not be able to present a reliable offer based on the documentation alone. Save money at this stage. After a short and pragmatic supplier review, ask for a demonstration of the process on your own data (the so-called “proof of concept”).
I have written more about this in the article – How to choose a system supporting the Supply Chain? So I won’t repeat myself now. I simply encourage you to read that post.
8) Implementation of the solution: divide the work into the following stages:
- Developing a flow of input and output data
- Process reengineering and associated change management
- Training of key users (preferably in the workplace)
- Transfer and calibration of the tool by all users
This topic has also been previously described in more detail on the blog in the entry – Supply Chain Planning System. How to implement it. You will find more information in that post.
If the implementation is already at the finish line, you are almost there! And as you know, that makes quite a difference. The project still needs to be completed. In other words, you need to start working in the new system.
A new virtual beginning
At this stage, consider the following issues.
9) Starting life: a real production test (that is, on a living organism). Users leave their comfort zone, they still require a lot of attention and support, but you are still with them and manage the change. You need to reach a critical mass and then it will be a “downhill” ride. There will always be someone dissatisfied in the organization. However, focus on whether the process works and whether it delivers the required results. This will be the measure of your success.
10) Closing the project: everyone is taking a souvenir photo… but in fact, there is still a lot of work ahead of everyone. You should summarize the implementation, write down and discuss what went according to plan and what did not. Ensure the process of measuring selected KPIs for a minimum period of 12 months after the completion of the works.
Finally, when your organization goes through a full annual planning and execution cycle based on the newly implemented Supply Chain Planning System, you can say that the implementation has indeed been finished.
I hope you enjoy this journey! To make sure you prepare for it more thoroughly, I recommend you to read the next more detailed articles in the series about systems supporting the Supply Chain and Logistics:
However, if you are looking for up-to-date and practical knowledge on how to increase the efficiency of your Supply Chain, make sure to sign up for the ‘Logistics Simply’ newsletter. Once a month I send substantive content only.
See you next time!