For this third article in the “Supply Chain Experts” series, we interview Michèle Louvel, APS Project Manager. To ensure the success of your project, you need to surround yourself with a professional, reliable and expert team. In the implementation of an APS (Advanced Planning Systems) solution, the project manager plays the role of the architect. He/she guarantees the smooth running of the project. He/she also ensures that the application of the project complies with the requests and requirements of the client. The project manager guarantees the fulfillment of the client’s needs, deadlines and costs.
A project manager must then be able to coordinate functional and technical teams, while being a pivotal point of contact for the client.
The Supply Chain expert
Today we give the floor to Michèle Louvel. Michèle joined QAD DynaSys 3 years ago, initially as a functional consultant before transitioning to a project manager and solution architect. Based in Strasbourg, she works mainly on projects associated with European clients.
Can you describe your background before joining QAD DynaSys?
I graduated in computer engineering, and I quickly turned to industrial computing. I started my career at Socomec (a manufacturer of electrical equipment) where I worked for almost 25 years as a product engineer. Then as a project manager. In 2014, still within Socomec, I joined the Supply Chain division as a forecasting manager; and stakeholder on the realization of the S&OP for 5 years.
What qualities do project managers in supply chain need?
A large number of qualities are necessary to carry out my role as project manager. But these 5 qualities are, in my opinion, essential:
Listening: and mainly active listening. This lets customers and internal teams know that I have heard and understood them. You have to know how to listen to everyone’s objectives, needs and obstacles in order to work in the most efficient and constructive way possible.
Rigor: it is essential in my role to take into account the project’s risks and to be able to control them. Rigor allows me to analyze these risks and put in place an action plan to minimize them.
Availability: being able to respond to a client-side or team-side request as quickly as possible. A grain of sand can stop the gears and the whole progress of a project suffers. Thus, a lack of availability of the project manager can permanently hinder everyone’s work. The project manager must be proactive to prevent this from happening.
Leadership: it is important to know how to manage the different stakeholders of a project. You have to be able to share your point of view, to argue. And sometimes, you have to know when to say no for the good of the project. Leadership is also, for me, finding common ground or compromise when a subject is out of scope.
Finally, having an analytical mind: synthesizing the project upstream allows me to have an overview of our different needs on the project (if there is a need for additional resources, for example). A concise mind also helps me share a brief and clear summary of the situation with the client and my internal teams.
What are the skills of project manager in supply chain?
What I would first call the classic management skills; project management method (as implemented at QAD DynaSys), planning and budget management and team management.
The project manager ensures that all members of the group have the right tools needed for the successful completion of the project. This would include ensuring that the Cloud servers are always available, that the latest version of the solution is installed on the Cloud server, or even ensuring that customers can correctly access their APS to be efficient on their supply chain projects.
Having skills in the Supply Chain sector (forecasting, distribution, planning, S&OP, etc.) is a real asset for properly analyzing and understanding the customer’s Supply Chain needs. And ensure the adequacy between the needs and the implementation. For this, my 5 years of experience as a Supply Chain and S&OP project manager have been of great help to me.
Your recent successes?
In 2019, I had the opportunity to improve my skills as a project manager on a project with Limagrain, which I was in charge of as a functional consultant. Limagrain Group is one of the world leaders in the market for certified seeds and hybrid seeds. Limagrain Europe was then looking for a unique Digital Supply Chain Planning solution, with a single data set, to replace Excel.
We were therefore asked to implement our demand planning solution (sales forecast) and a sourcing part based on production planning which takes into account the quantity of seeds available per plant. Finally, we have also set up a finite capacity production plan. The real challenge of this project lay in the management of a hundred users on the Cloud application.
My role as project manager was to ensure a good understanding of the client’s needs and to monitor the project schedule (deadlines) and costs. Being a multi-user project, the challenge was to provide a solution for users of different trades and geographical sites. It was therefore necessary to find a solution that brought together players with different challenges and needs and to find solutions for harmonization.
It was a great team project. Despite the pandemic, the stakeholders on the customer side and on the QAD DynaSys side have managed to create a bond and work together efficiently. I like to say that each team was in the same boat and we joined forces to arrive safely (the Go Live!) on time. But above all to offer a solution that meets the very specific needs of the client.