What are the key best practices in the implementation of a supply chain system?

Senior executives who create a vision for the implementation of a supply chain system will achieve success with the roll-out and implementation. Without a clear vision, the project team will struggle and are unlikely to get the required buy-in.

The lack of a project approach without clear goals and timelines is likely to fail in any organization. Many businesses think that line managers will make the time to implement the required supply chain initiatives. The pressure of daily operational activities makes this an unlikely option.

Bureaucratic processes can lead to scope creep and have a severe negative impact on the project. Senior executive can play an important role in removing barriers and red tape and insuring a smooth transition.

Overlapping IT systems or future software implementation for resource planning systems (ERP), can slow down the implementation systems. It is important for the project team to have a clear understanding of the current and future IT infrastructure, and where overlap might occur. In some organizations, a combination of computer generated information and manually recorded information can create further confusion.

Organizational culture and change management are also two aspects that will impact the organization. Creating the right culture for change needs to commence prior to project team implementation.

Senior Executive untrained in the specific capabilities and requirements of supply chain often find it difficult to make operational decisions. Training requirements should not only focus on line managers,. They should be extended to senior executives also. Executive training programs and workshops can provide an important support structure for senior executives.

Supply Chain requirements are frequently designed based on production and raw material constraints. Process mapping and design must take into consideration customer needs and economic factors. The supply chain design should not be constrained by production and supply inefficiencies.

Prior to system development and roll-out, a model design is essential. The model should include current and future supply chain requirements. Furthermore, the decision making process needs to be clearly mapped out, with a clear process flow.

The importance of best practices is sometimes underestimated. Having clear best practices, within the organization, but also within the industry, will assist in the creation of a roadmap for supply chain effectiveness.

The decision making process must clearly mapped out and include all key stakeholders. Often, critical line managers are excluded from the process, and are not given the opportunity to design their own process goals.

Regular feedback meetings must be scheduled with all key stakeholders. Feedback meetings often provide the opportunity for senior executives to track progress and make necessary changes, if needed.

The right people must be on board from the start of the project. Often, project teams lack critical human resources and skills as key individuals are assigned to operational tasks and unable to devote their full attention to their respective project team.

The project team will benefits from using proven implementation methodology. The lack of a clear methodology will severely affect the project roll-out.

Conclusion

Buy-in and support is probably the best way to describe the successful implementation of a supply chain system. While the long term impact and benefits of having a supply chain are undisputed, the project implementation process should not be taken too lightly. Ensuring that all key stakeholders are onboard is one of the best ways to get there.

One comment

  1. Just some more comments on your excellent list of best practices:

    3) “Bureaucratic processes can lead to scope creep and have a severe negative impact on the project. Senior executive can play an important role in removing barriers and red tape and insuring a smooth transition.”
    –> Senior management should play an active role throughout the project removing barriers and red tape to insure a smooth transition. Not only should senior management help to ensure the projects run smoothly but also to remove any of these bureaucratic processes so that they will not be an obstacle the next time.

    4) “Overlapping IT systems or future software implementation for resource planning systems (ERP), can slow down the implementation systems. It is important for the project team to have a clear understanding of the current and future IT infrastructure, and where overlap might occur. In some organizations, a combination of computer generated information and manually recorded information can create further confusion.”
    –> Here I disagree: The design of a new process shouldn’t be done based on the existing or future IT infrastructure. In designing new processes, IT systems need to be redesigned/reconfigured to support these new processes providing a solution which delivers best value to customers. For example in a Lean environment the use of an ERP is being reduced from managing the complete supply chain to only providing forecasts to suppliers. Inventory management in production is handled using kanbans.

    5) “Organizational culture and change management are also two aspects that will impact the organization. Creating the right culture for change needs to commence prior to project team implementation.”
    –> and needs to be driven by senior management with a clear communication plan.

    7) Supply Chain requirements are frequently designed based on production and raw material constraints. Process mapping and design must take into consideration customer needs and economic factors. The supply chain design should not be constrained by production and supply inefficiencies.
    –> Process mapping and design is based on customer requirements, where economic factors are taking into consideration to deliver the most cost effective solution. The customer is always priority number uno.

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