The key steps of a successful APS project
Before embarking your heart and soul on the construction of your house, you must follow a certain number of steps; starting with the choice of the land, the builder, the materials, the craftsmen. Illustrating that such a project does not happen on a whim! It is the same for your Supply Chain! To build the Supply Chain Planning of your dreams with the right tools, you have to go through key stages; starting with writing the specifications or the expression of needs. Having a clear vision of your organization and your real needs will also allow you to choose the right tools, starting with APS (Advanced Planning Systems) as far as we are concerned today.
Meet our Supply Chain Expert
Léane Ursprung joined QAD DynaSys as Marketing & Sales coordinator in 2017. One of her key competencies is to expertly qualify the business requests QAD DynaSys is receiving. It requires understanding and analyzing the customers and prospects needs in order to provide the right information to the sales team. Alongside her analytics skills, Léane is also a “think outside the box” expert. She constantly imagines new ways to successfully support the sales processes.
Leane helps us today to better understand the different key stages of an APS project.
APS vs. ERP? How to choose?
You don’t drive a nail in with a screwdriver! The same goes for your information system! An APS is a Supply Chain planning and optimization tool flexible enough to adapt to customer needs. The tool makes it easier to optimize the entire Supply Chain of an organization; from sales forecasting to customer delivery, including supply and production planning and to work on meshes and different backgrounds. A real decision support solution for all levels of the company (strategic, tactical or operational), the APS allows the simulation of different hypotheses (Scenario Planning).
The purpose of setting up an APS tool is to improve the customer service rate. And also the reliability of sales forecasting, and to optimize and reduce storage, production, supply and distribution costs. So, an APS can be integrated with an ERP.
ERP (Enterprise Resource Planning) is a software that manages all of a company’s operational processes by integrating several management functions (orders, inventory, finance, e-commerce, etc.). Its main advantage is to group all the data in one place.
Those two tools are perfectly complementary, but therefore do not have the same function. But let’s focus on the subject that drives us, the construction of its Supply Chain Planning with the right planning tools, namely the APS.
Why is it important to think about an APS project upstream?
It is very common that future clients who contact us already have a multitude of projects launched, in progress or finalized. Whether they are directly related to the APS implementation project or not. We note that it is often very difficult for them to prioritize these projects and therefore ultimately see them succeed. Relying on indicators such as expected gains, efforts to be made and implementation deadlines can be an excellent starting point to help you prioritize your APS project.
It is also very common to find that the business processes are most of the time not very harmonized within the companies that approach us. It may be relevant in this case to map all of your current processes but also the development expectations that you have of them. This will allow you to build the starting point of your need and your future specifications.
If you do not have the necessary internal resources (nor the time), audits can be considered with our consulting partners. Carrying out a process audit makes it possible to highlight faulty points, bottlenecks, time-consuming tasks or tasks without added value. And then allows you to considerably and effectively orient your needs.
Thinking about and starting a project to implement a new tool must follow a real process and reflection within your company. Because starting this project within a shaky structure, and on a ground where the processes are informal and non-existent and where the teams are demobilized, can unfortunately only end in failure.
Why shouldn’t and can’t I be alone in this process?
Remember that your Supply Chain does not start with your organization, but with the flows of your suppliers, the flows of your customers and many others. A large number of actors are therefore concerned. It may be important or even essential depending on your activity, to integrate all the stakeholders in this project.
Don’t forget either that to make your project a reality with the appropriate means, you have to be able to convince the General Management, Finances, etc… of the interest brought by the implementation of a new tool.
But you will also have to convince the future users and internal collaborators that you want to integrate into the project. This means communicating effectively and sharing the right information at the right time with the right people, around a common goal. Federating a group means gaining efficiency and managing your project.
Also try not to lose sight of the overall organization and not stay too focused on a particular need or scope. No optimization should be done to the detriment of the teams and stakeholders. This is crucial in projects that can last several months or even years. Or where some stakeholders can sometimes forget the final objectives or even leave the project. The organization of workshops, the implementation of a communication dedicated to the progress of the project, the documentation… can be all elements that contribute to the smooth running of your project.
Don’t stay stuck in your corner, socialize and pay attention to feedback, questions that will be asked by all the actors. A project to implement a new APS tool is above all a project to improve the overall performance of the company.
What are the steps to follow?
Well-chosen and well-configured IT tools will allow you to support and improve your business. Software that best meets your functional needs and user expectations can bring you real answers and improvements! Obviously the fact that the solution is operational is mandatory but it is not the only thing to take into account, it is not just a purely IT project!
In summary, it is necessary to:
- Prioritize the project
- Mobilize your General Management and all stakeholders
- Define a project team
- Involve future users from the start for better adherence
- Map your existing processes and define your target processes
- Manage hazards and change management throughout your project
- Formalize the expression of need (internally or externally with a specialized consulting firm) through specifications
- Build your budget
- Establish a long list of potential suppliers and the evaluation criteria to end up on a more qualitative list.
The acquisition of an APS must be part of a real business project, based on clearly defined challenges. It is only under these conditions that it will constitute a profitable investment for the company and for the users and this will avoid drowning or cannibalizing oneself on the next actions.
How do I involve my top management?
What motivates change is generally the search for productivity and a better quality of service for customers. Once again, formalizing and sharing the benefits to be expected from the implementation of a new tool contributes to the success of the project. If your need is sufficiently detailed and properly explains the gains and values of your project, such as the respective roles of each, the workload or the planned constraints, it will allow all the actors involved in this project to be as convinced as possible (once again, the objective is to unite all the stakeholders).