If your company has been experiencing problems with its supplier base or issues with production and distribution, then supply chain management (SCM) software may be able to help you get back on your feet.
SCM software provides the opportunity to automate and streamline processes for improved efficiency. However, enterprise software projects are no walk in the park.
Today, we’re sharing a quick guide to successful SCM implementation. Before diving into your next project, take the time to read these tips and get started on the right foot.
Is an SCM Implementation Right for You?
All too often, companies get starry-eyed over the bells and whistles that a new SCM or ERP system can offer. This is especially the case if they’re dissatisfied with their existing supply chain management system.
These eager companies invest their money, time and resources into a complete overhaul of their systems when they could have simply refined their existing processes.
This is why we always recommend performing a technology assessment before beginning SCM selection. This ensures your company will truly benefit from new software.
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5 SCM Implementation Tips
1. Prioritize Business Process Reengineering
If you decide to move forward with an SCM implementation, you first must evaluate your organization’s current processes.
Where are you experiencing problems and bottlenecks within your supply chain? What current workflows could be contributing to these setbacks and how could you redesign them?
The process of answering these questions is known as business process reengineering. Without reengineering, or at least process improvement, you could become entranced by a system’s features and assume it aligns with your processes.
In contrast, when you take the time to define your future state, you equip your project team to select a system that meets the organization’s long-term needs.
2. Ensure Technical and Functional Fit
If you’re planning an SCM implementation, you should use the concept of “fit” to narrow your software options and help you make your final selection.
As you evaluate SCM vendors and compare platforms, be sure to reference your list of business requirements. This list should comprise all your processes, including the ones you improved.
Continually referencing this list can help you determine if the system you’re eyeing just looks good on paper or actually delivers the value you need.
3. Prepare for Organizational Change
Before you introduce new technology into your business, it’s critical to consider both the technical and the human side of the change.
It’s easy to become so focused on ensuring the system is operable, that you forget to prepare your workforce. As a result, you experience change resistance as employees grapple with losing their familiar best practices.
Organizational change management is the process of preparing your teams to adopt new processes and technology. It involves assessments, end-user training, communication and other strategic steps that ensure each stakeholder’s concerns are addressed.
4. Plan for Data Migration
It’s likely that the new SCM system you implement won’t seamlessly integrate with your existing infrastructure. In addition, you may have legacy systems that you’re replacing but that contain valuable data that you must transition to the new platform.
This underscores the need for a data migration strategy. As soon as you select your SCM software application, you should start planning how you’ll migrate accurate data from your current systems.
Usually, legacy data isn’t in any shape to be put into a new system. It may be spread across multiple sources and it’s likely in a range of different formats.
When developing a data conversion strategy, be sure to address how you will:
- Cleanse data
- Remove duplicate entries
- Address other data quality issues
- Create a nomenclature for items, descriptions, units of measure, etc.
Without such a plan in place, you could find yourself dealing with data at the last minute. This can lead to a bogged-down system that’s incapable of meeting your business needs upon go-live.
5. Limit Software Customization
Sometimes, an SCM platform will require customization to meet the needs of your organization. However, we recommend resisting the urge to dive headfirst into the realm of software customization.
Once you start down this route, it can be impossible to stop. As employees make customization requests, you’ll continue to acquiesce, inadvertently encouraging employees to make more requests.
To minimize this risk, it’s important to only consider customizations that add true business value.
Alternatively, you may want to reconsider your choice of software. Perhaps there’s a system that can meet your needs out-of-box and through simple configuration.
An SCM Implementation can Transform Your Business
If you want to improve your supplier and vendor relationships or restructure your processes to weather future storms, a new SCM system may be the answer.
However, it’s important to plan each step carefully. An SCM implementation really begins with strategic planning and careful selection. Granted, you’re not actually implementing anything yet, but these are still critical components of implementation.
By focusing on the pre-implementation aspects of implementation, you’ll set the stage for a successful long-term investment that will help you organize and manage every part of your supply chain.