Preparing for a software implementation or a supply chain enhancement project can be a long process. You research and select potential software, draw up project timelines, name project champions, and solicit project and budget approvals, to name just a few highlights. At the end of this, you are ready to turn this over to the project team and consultants and let them get to work.
However, there are a few more steps for you or your project champion to coordinate before passing the reins over to the project lead and consultants. Below are three key steps, and one optional one, that executives and project champions can take to boost the effectiveness and efficiency of a Replenishment+ implementation and greatly increase the chance of its success.
1. Maintain Communication With Stakeholders
One of the biggest hurdles in any implementation is communication. Often a project moves so quickly up front that key individuals can be missed in communications or even receive misinformation. Too often in an implementation, the project team is ready to begin training on the new software and the intended users of the software throw up their hands and exclaim that they have never even heard of the software, much less a project to implement it at their plant! Valuable time and effort are then lost convincing the PC&L leader or plant manager of the validity of the project. Then they need to take their planners’ time with training and process review.
To prevent this hurdle, key stakeholders should be identified and their relationships to the project established and communication tools should be clearly outlined.
Building a RACI chart and communication plan with your project team at the beginning of the project is the easiest way to accomplish this. The RACI can be used by both the project team and external consultants to determine who is responsible for various project tasks, who should be consulted for key decisions, who should be informed about progress, and who should be notified when potential risks emerge. Executive input is crucial for this step to ensure that the appropriate internal leaders are included in the project.
The communication plan is another key piece of project success. This plan should indicate the resources that the team will use to communicate (email, Google Meet, Teams, Sharepoint, etc) as well as the types of communications that will go out to each stakeholder. At its most basic, this should outline the types of weekly or monthly updates for each type of stakeholder. However, a successful plan will also have forward-thinking communications in place, such as the emails and kickoff decks required from the project sponsor and team to introduce the project to a new plant in the implementation.
These small efforts at the beginning of the project enable the project team to work together more effectively, ensure that the project is constantly oriented towards its main goals, and often grease the wheels of project acceptance across the organization.
2. Review Your Data
A popular saying about software is that the software is only as smart as the data it is populated with. Never is this truer than at the start of a supply chain planning implementation, when you may start to realize the true state of the data in your ERP. It is important that all potential data issues are recognized, and plans established to resolve them at the beginning of an implementation. Once go-live occurs, it becomes much more difficult to resolve these issues without destroying user trust in the system.
Effective implementations often start with a data review already underway or placed on high priority to review as soon as the kick-off occurs. At a minimum, these reviews should ensure that part metrics like lead times, order cycles and multiples, MOQs, and vendor data are all up to date and are regularly updated by relevant users. For the Demand Driven Technologies product offerings, our consultants can supply a list of other part data, including demand and supply fields, that should be reviewed for accuracy.
In a Replenishment+ implementation, data reviews are conducted throughout an implementation to ensure data accuracy, proper interface design, and buffer set up. If the project team places importance on data review and regular data update procedures at the beginning of the project, reviews in Replenishment+ will become second nature for diligent planners. This will save time later in the implementation and establish more trust in the system for the users.
3. Identify Key Resources
While this point may seem the most obvious, it is often one of the easiest to overlook. It’s easy to pick the initial implementation site then simply assign the job of deploying a Replenishment+ implementation to a supply chain manager or a single DDMRP champion. While these individuals are often successful at driving a project, it is often at their own expense and single-minded drive that any results are hard won from the implementation. Should this person be promoted, switch roles, or leave the company, the project risks falling apart.
Identifying the full breadth of resource needs at the beginning of the project will save time trying to restructure and maintain momentum throughout the project. Some key resources to consider:
- Project Champions/Leads – Often a core team of individuals who support and/or drive the implementation AND become an ongoing resource on demand driven methodology and the software in the company. These people should be DDMRP fluent and will often be responsible for making decisions on site set up. One or more of this group could become functional Site Administrators.
- Super Users – Key individuals at a regional or location level who become DDMRP and Replenishment+ Subject Matter Experts. Become local resources for planners.
- IT Resources – Individuals who can develop the software interface and ongoing support structure for Replenishment+ technical updates.
- Local Language Support – If conducting implementations in different countries, trainers and documentation in applicable languages could be required. Demand Driven Technologies offers a vast partner network that can be utilized for this purpose.
Depending on the scope and size of the project not all of these resources will exist, or they could be the same person. It is imperative to think of the ongoing support that the project will need at the beginning and throughout the establishment of Replenishment+ in the system.
4. Bonus: Add Our Advanced Analytics Module
For Replenishment+ deployments, there is an additional module called the Advanced Analytics Module that can be added to your instance. This is an embedded analytics module in Replenishment+ that runs up-to-date reports that can be customized to the needs of your implementation.
While completely optional, this module has multiple benefits.
- It can serve as a replacement for many manually run Excel spreadsheets or other external reporting.
- All standard reporting and custom reporting is geared with DDMRP flow-based metrics in mind. These can assist in adjusting views away from older metrics to focus on the goals of the project.
- The standard reports offered in the AAM can be utilized to track progress throughout and after the implementation.
- Additional custom reports can be created for the needs of your company.