SUPPLY CHAIN MANAGEMENT SOFTWARE OPTIMIZATION
BEST PRACTICES IN SCM SOFTWARE CONTINUOUS PROCESS IMPROVEMENT
While supply chain management software implementation complexity remains, the implementation failure rate continues to decrease. Implementers are better leveraging proven methodologies, best practices and lessons learned in order to bring their supply chain software systems to production environments faster and with more predictable results. As part of the software maturation and implementation evolution process, implementers also no longer regard the implementation go-live event as the end mark of success, but instead as the beginning point to achieve future distribution and operational successes. Herein are several application software continuous process improvement best practices to consider after the implementation in order to continuously add value and return on investment to your SCM software investment.
SCM software user training is not an implementation-only event. The application software training provided during the implementation generally reviews only what the staff need to leverage to do their roles and seldom gets into the advanced software areas that can provide additional automation, information and productivity. Also, with future enterprise software upgrades, new version releases as well as staff turnover and new hires, recurring training programs will be required. HR or other training professionals should develop a training curriculum with a complete system orientation and training materials.
Planning and managing a “Supply Chain Process”, as opposed to individual departmental silos, makes it easier to reduce waste and improve overall performance. For example, without automating the process in its entirety, passing a customer order from the sales department, to the warehouse as a pick ticket, to transportation as a BOL, and then to accounting as an invoice results in communication breakdowns, duplication of efforts, and gaps in accountability. With designated process owners, processes become more efficient. The key is to identify, prioritize and streamline the three to five most salient processes at any given time. For each process, the process owner is normally the first level support and trouble shooter. The process owner manages the backlog and reports the key performance indicators (KPIs) periodically. It is important to create a structure to manage exceptions, eliminate process failures, and continuously improve the process. A process owner should be responsible for the entire process cycle if possible, and have the discretion to address issues with the different department or line of business leads and managers.
The objective of a Portfolio Owner (commonly referred to as a Business Systems Analyst) is to optimize the contribution of their assigned area to the overall performance of the supply chain. From a supply chain management software perspective, this includes several primary responsibilities, such as:
- Identifying and implementing best practices;
- Eliminating redundancies and duplication of efforts;
- Managing and prioritizing new projects;
- Managing users requirements;
- Coordinating and managing relationships with the SCM software vendor.
Managing and evolving the most influential SCM portfolio capabilities is a full time responsibility that generally includes the following operational areas.
The primary objective is to replace islands of information and analysis with an overarching central planning system that supports integrated demand, supply and financial planning applications.
Efficient distribution centers and transportation are dependent on information systems. A critical objective is to continuously ensure system uptime as near as possible to 100% and that the information interfaced from host and partner systems is continuously available, current and accurate.
Information technology is the face trading partners see when exchanging SCM transactions. The goal of the portfolio owner is to synthesize the needs and requirements of all internal departments into a unified and succinct exchange of information. The responsibility typically interfaces with process owners of Customer Relationship Management software systems and Enterprise Resource Planning applications.
Supply Chain Visibility
The responsibility is to capture and improve real time visibility to the flow of products, planning, and performance information. The goal is to do it in such a way so that better informed decisions can be made without overwhelming the users with excess or irrelevant data.
Supply Chain Shared Services
The supply chain information systems portfolio is made up of the shared information, business rules, process flows and software applications that manage areas common to the overall supply chain stakeholders, such as customers, suppliers, and partners. Periodically and continuously reviewing the objectives, requirements and constraints of the stakeholders in order to evolve the information systems capabilities is a best practice that is often overlooked.
Focus On Mission Critical
Managing resources and tasks to excel in mission critical areas should be a top SCM priority. Once mission critical areas are identified and prioritized, management disciplines such as Six Sigma can be used to improve processes, eliminate waste and reduce errors. Joining user groups and associations, reading industry journals, attending industry seminars, and meeting with software vendors can keep a fresh stream of new ideas flowing.
High cost areas should be isolated and methods such as Six Sigma used to improve the processes and eliminate waste. Continuous improvements in IT capabilities can continuously automate resource intensive tasks in order to significantly lower labor costs.
SCM Software Improvements
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