• January 3rd, 2017

Warehouse Management

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System Implementation

1. Review the “System Implementation” section in Chapter 6 of the text. Select two risks that your current (or former) organization could potentially face. In 250 words, provide a potential risk mitigation recommendation for each of the two.

The success will usually depend on the following basic points:
• Identifying systems technology that will fit the needs of the business with a correct definition of objectives. Any form of ICT should not be just a system ‘fix’. Detailed handling and operations analysis are needed, with definite user requirements that are fully specified and agreed, followed by cost/benefit analysis of the options, with simula- tion if appropriate.
• Hard work will be required, with investment in time to address all the operational, facilities, system and training activities. Failures often occur; because of under-estimating the magnitude of such needed investments.
• The operational and the people aspects need close attention at the design stage, so they are then ‘eased’ at the implementation. Being honest with people – by sharing business objectives, explaining openly what the impacts are and not having hidden agendas – works. Letting people see it working elsewhere with a multi-level team can bring ‘champions’ who then become keen to ‘get on with it’. Implementa- tion is also not the time to realise that users have no knowledge of the system. Purely software functionality is not the only requirement which should be involved in implementation.
• Unknown factors can still arise, often due to the complexity of issues and the constant moving changes that may have occurred since the initial investigations to the implementation; therefore, the risks/costs need to be assessed against the planned gains/credits. All aspects of the interfaces/impacts with customers are critical aspects to be considered here. Top management visible support will be needed. Additionally a full change management programme may be required to overcome people’s uncertainty and anxiety.
• Besides the software location, there will be effects on other facilities such as new MHE, reconfiguring layouts, bar code labels, etc., as well as the requirement for user training which will be needed well before the ‘live’ date.
• Project planning with realistic timescales needs to be internally managed and not left to an external software provider, who really has no idea of the fine complex details of the user’s business. It is the user after all, who needs to get the implementation right first time. Allo- cation of adequate resources to undertake this is needed
• Be prepared for things to go wrong, such as key people leaving, hard- ware failures and exceptions occurring to the normal activity. Con- tingency plans will be needed along with flexible mindsets, followed by responsive clear direction and action.
• Testing and trailing before going live must be undertaken by users who need to subject the system to specific operational flows and activity with a clear view to bring the system ‘down’. Learning and modifica- tions can then be safely made and testing carried out again.
• Ownership by the user is paramount. Software providers need to be met half way and it should be recalled that, at some stage, they will not be there.
• Sufficient support personnel should be available once the system has gone live.
The consequences of wrong systems implementation can be dramatic. Only in late 2004 two major UK blue chip companies (Sainsbury and MFI) both issued profit warnings due to implementation problems with SAP/ERP systems, and both specifically mentioned supply chain prob- lems as the major issue. How far these are just dramatic ‘teething trou- bles’ remains to be seen.

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