Supply Chain Software Implementation Considerations: Selecting and implementing supply chain software for an enterprise is a major decision, and not just because these kinds of applications require significant resources to set up. The software application that a company selects will manage the company’s entire supply chain, which will have ripple effects on many of the company’s daily operations. Thus, it’s vitally important to consider all the aspects involved in supply chain software implementation. Here are some of the biggest considerations, challenges, pitfalls and best practices that companies should take into account when implementing supply chain software.
Supply Chain Software Implementation Considerations
Get Buy-In of Key Stakeholders
People who are responsible for selecting their company’s next supply chain software application often
spend a lot of time and effort seeking executive buy-in. While they need to have the executives behind them for implementation of a new application to be successful, the long-term usefulness of a program depends at least as much on the people who will use the program as it does on the executives’ opinions of the application.
In addition to seeking the buy-in of company executives, decision makers who are selecting a program should also get the people who will be using the new software on board with the selection that’s made. What stakeholders think of an application will greatly impact how they use it — and how much the software benefits the company.
Make Sure Suppliers Are on Board
Without the support from suppliers, supply chain management software will be a source of friction and frustration. It may even cause more issues than it helps.
Before implementing any supply chain software, companies should make sure their suppliers are on board with the decision. Many applications also benefit suppliers, so getting their support often isn’t an issue. It’s important to talk with them before implementing a new system that will affect them, though.
Communicate with Customers
Occasionally, supply chain software implementations can cause temporary delays and disruptions in the supply chain. If these are significant, they can affect customers.
Clear communication with customers leading up to, during, and after implementation helps ensure that customers’ needs are met and any problems that arise are immediately remedied.
Update Standardized Forms
A supply chain software application may not show data in the same way that other programs the company uses do. If the new application’s forms aren’t made to match the forms used by other programs, such as accounting and production software, there is a great chance of having duplicate data and of making mistakes.
Anytime a company implements a new software application, the company’s standard forms should be reviewed and updated if necessary. All programs ought to be configured to present data in a similar way.
Check Current Data
All supply chain software applications are only as good as the data they have. If a company’s current data isn’t accurate and complete, even the best application will be only marginally useful.
Before data is imported into a new application, the data should be checked. Any inaccurate or corrupt data should be removed, and any incomplete data should be filled in. Checking data will take time, but it’ll also let the new software do what it’s designed to do.
Wait for a Slow Time
Implementing supply chain software is a sizeable task. Any resources that are devoted to the task are resources that can’t be put towards another project at the same time.
To ensure implementation goes as smoothly as possible, it should be scheduled for a slow time of year. Delaying implementation until a slow period is generally better than rushing implementation to get it done during or leading up to a peak business season.
Be Willing to Do Things Differently
The temptation to do things the way they’ve always been done — and change a new supply chain software application is that it’s possible to complete tasks the old-fashioned way — is often strong. Changes to an application, however, can negatively affect the software’s usefulness and make the technical support for the program more complex.
A new supply chain software application should be changed as little as possible. Instead of customizing software to meet operations, companies should be willing to adapt and do things differently so they can take full advantage of the new program.
Work with Partners’ Programs
Supply chain software isn’t a standalone program, but one that should plug into a network of programs that help a company run efficiently. As the world becomes ever increasingly connected, that network is now beginning to stretch beyond a company’s own programs.
In addition to selecting a supply chain software application that is compatible with their other programs, some companies may also want to choose an application that’s compatible with partners’ software programs. It’s not always necessary to choose a program from the same software developer that a partner used, but getting a program that’s compatible can streamline communications and operations.
Look for an SOA Architecture
How a supply chain software application is conceptually designed significantly impacts its compatibility and ability to play with other systems
How a supply chain software application is conceptually designed significantly impacts its compatibility and ability to play with other systems. Without a program that has a solid foundation, companies may find their supply chain software limited in what it can do.
Applications that have a service-oriented architecture (SOA programs) are intentionally designed to work with other programs. The term service-oriented comes from the services that these applications provide other programs. Companies that select an SOA application will have an easier time integrating it with CRM, ERP and other software, and they’ll more easily be able to customize the supply chain software.
Account for Future Growth
When purchasing supply chain software, companies must get a license that meets their current needs. Just meeting a company’s current needs, however, may leave the company in a lurch if it grows in the near future. A license that only meets current needs may not provide all the benefits that a company will need in the future.
Companies shouldn’t just think about their current needs when selecting a license, but they should also take into account their future needs. They should either purchase a license that allows for room to grow or get an application that has a flexible licensing agreement that can be changed in the future.
If your company is looking for a new supply chain software application, carefully consider all of these aspects of implementation. Going through each one will help implementation go smoothly and ensure your choice of application helps the company for a long time to come.