So your company’s supply chain needs upgrading? Are you in the process of researching options, scoping out requirements and determining your best options? Implementing a new supply chain management software for your company involves a lot more than you might expect and there are several questions that you’ll need to answer for this implementation to be successful.
Data, data, wherefore are thou data?
Question 1: Where is your data and how is it managed?
I think everyone understands how important data is, especially in our increasingly technological world where we have access to seemingly endless sources of data. We all know that we need stock levels to be accurate, to know what we’ve sold, where the risks lie to avoid stock outs, avoid being overstocked – the list is almost endless. What is not understood so often, or perhaps more accurately, what is underestimated, is the difficulty in managing that data:
- Data Collection: Where is it all? Existing systems, emails, PDF files, spreadsheets, people’s heads, on paper, with the suppliers? In fact, does it even exist?
- Data Loading: Do the various ERP operational platforms interact efficiently and communicate data correctly? Get it wrong with incorrect data coming in and you will have incorrect data coming out.
- Data Maintenance: Who updates it and how often? In which areas can we introduce automation to improve processes? When you have thousands of live items across multiple locations the task of reviewing and updating can be immense.
- Operation: Is the data available? Is it in the right format (and up to date) or do we need to apply additional metrics to ensure best practice results to optimize our supply chain?
Having a large amount of data within your company and still using excel to house all that data can really slow down your business operations. The excel sheets don’t talk to each other and getting numbers to match across the whole business can be tricky. For example, you might have a merchandiser that is talking to a buyer that is talking to a financial planner that is talking to eCommerce, and all these people, working on different excel sheets, need to have the same numbers. Therefore, dynamic systems like AGR, which houses your data and updates it automatically, are crucial to your business operations, as they ensure that everyone is looking at the same numbers.
Business Processes and Best Practice
Question 2: Do you have a sufficient overview of your business operations and are you following best practice processes?
Implementing a new system means that you have to understand what your current system‘s capabilities and limitation are, while also making it vital to understand and map out all of the processes within your business and understand why you do the things that you do.
We are frequently asked by new customers “Why does the AGR system do that?” and while this is a valid question, the customer needs to also be asking themselves, “Why do we do this and why do we apply these calculations? Why should we do this going forward?” When implementing a new system, if you can’t answer why your company carries out their business operations in a certain way (that is – an answer better than “This is how we’ve always done it.”) then the implementation might not go as smoothly as you hoped. Having the answers to these questions are vital.
Implementing a new supply chain management software for your company also means implementing new business processes that come along with that software. The AGR software has been developed based on best practice processes within the supply chain, so being ready for both a systems AND processes upgrade is vital.
Team Work Makes the Dream Work
Questions 3: Is your team prepared to start using a new system/new set of processes?
In order for implementation to go smoothly, getting buy-in from the team that will be using the new software and understanding your people within the teams is crucial to its success. If your team doesn´t understand the importance of upgrading both the systems and processes within your supply chain, the likelihood of them fully utilizing the new software and letting go of the excel sheets might be harder than you think.
It might be helpful for you to think of your employees and figure out where they fit into five main groups:
- Innovators. These are technology enthusiasts by nature, and they’re excited to dive in and figure out how the new software can improve their existing workflows.
- Early Adopters. Like innovators, these users will try new software faster than the majority. Getting buy-in from this group is critical, because their opinions influence how the Early Majority feels about trying the new tool.
- Early Majority. This group is more practical in their approach to new software. The Early Majority typically waits until software is vetted by others. They want to know how new software improves their existing workflow before they feel comfortable adopting it.
- Late Majority. These users will only adopt new software when they need to, or when it becomes unreasonable not to. The Late Majority will use the software once you’ve made it a concrete part of your business operations.
- Laggards. Laggards tend to use familiar technology and software as long as they possibly can. They’re often uncomfortable learning and using new tools. The only way to move this group may be to force them to use the new software by eliminating legacy options.
Understanding these user types will help you think strategically about your rollout plan, and how it may affect each of these five groups.
If you can build enough momentum with Early Adopters, for example, it will be easier to convince the Early Majority. And once the Early Majority adopts your new software, you’ll be well on your way to getting the rest of your team on board. Getting your team onboard will help the software implementation go smoother than ever.
It is also important to keep in mind that implementing a new system that will also make changes to your business process takes a lot of time and dedication. Having a dedicated employee or super users to follow this implementation would be a large step in helping the transition go smoothly.
AGR Dynamics is Here to Help
As previously mentioned, we at AGR Dynamics have developed our supply chain software to follow best practice processes and through our Rapid Results implementation methodology, we are here to help you upgrade your systems and processes and help your company be successful. With over 150 customers using the AGR software in over 2500 stores all over the world, we have a lot of expertise in helping you reduce your inventory and increase your service levels. With the AGR software, you can reduce up to 80% of the manual work within your business operations and say goodbye to excel once and for all.
If you would like to learn more about our AGR supply chain management software, don’t hesitate to be in touch with us and request a demo.