Advanced Planning Systems (APS) score well above the ERP systems in the way those make the Supply Chain Planning processes automated, faster, responsive and cost-effective. Such APSs can be extremely costly and time-consuming. Some of the well-received APS are offered by SAP, Oracle, Manhattan, RedPrairie, Infor, and JDA Software. The CIOs are advised to muse the following before they sign the big check!
Seeing is believing
Save yourself heartbreak by making reference checks on different working APS with companies in the industry and beyond, before taking the big leap. Check with the user community on the experiences. They might have shocking stories to share. Ask your APS vendor for a free trial period.
This or That
Whether it is the Big Bang deployment of APS spanning across marketing, distribution, warehousing, production and production with all business segments involved or a staged deployment approach, consider the implications on risks, project cost, project infrastructure, existing ERP and Analytical systems integration and master data management and communicate impartially to the project sponsor.
Optimized Plans. Really?
Get your execution team involved as soon as possible in the process of adopting the plans made by APS. Release the dummy plans to field sales, shop floors, stores in-charges, vehicle managers for review and trial execution. Get quick and honest feedback if the output of the APS is practical and optimized.
APS are costly. Period. CIOs and Functions heads are forced to get the best of out the money invested. The result is a super complicated, impossible to run, hard to understand and heavily customized APS. Most of such APS are junked soon. Be reasonable with the complexity of solutions. Better to have a complete payback of APS investments over a long period of time than risking losing the investment in a very short time.
Software is not THE panacea
APS implementations should be looked upon as an opportunity to getting planning processes (re) defined, Supply Chain KPIs (re) established, junk data cleansed and (re)-organization of teams. In fact, some of these are pre-requisites for deploying an APS.
All the APS software are built around statistical methods and optimization techniques based on Operations Research. Make sure that you and your team have a good handle on these ‘advanced mathematical models and decision-making trees’. Hiring a corporate trainer or a college professor for a couple of weeks will do wonders for the comfort levels of your team.
Retain the team
However good the APS documentation is, retention of the implementation team is critical to running of APS over a long period. Many a time, good implementations come to stand still as the implementation team members are returned to core function or leave to find lucrative job opportunities.