I find that supply chain design is often undervalued. We seem to blindly follow systems and business processes handed down from our information technology departments and resources, but do we take the time to think through design? Purchasing, logistics, and ERP systems are considered big-ticket items for most companies.
Why would we leave design to chance and not fully leverage our investment?
If you are upgrading or implementing a new software system, start thinking about design prior to implementing, you cannot start too soon. My best clients ask for their processes to be reviewed, documented, and improved upfront. This way, the clients are familiar with the processes, and can better sync up their system and process design to deliver results. Even more importantly, those clients typically have a much smoother implementation, less customer disruption, less cost, less confusion.
If you are not upgrading or implementing, do not despair! Anytime you make a commitment to design, you’ll gain a benefit. Start by asking your employees about what is working and not working. Listen to their feedback. Review configuration options of the software. Get familiar with the functionality and business needs. Join user communities. Ask for ideas. Develop plans for design improvement. Significant results can be achieved without significant investment.
For example, one of my clients wanted to bring inventory levels down to free up cash without affecting service levels. We reviewed the people, process, and systems. There were opportunities to re-design aspects of each – within 6 months, the re-configured and re-allocated people, process, and system was able to deliver a 30% reduction in inventory.
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