Integrating the Old & New supply chain technology can lead to awesome results!

REENGINEER PROCESSES.

Adding new technology without reengineering related processes won't reap maximum results. The magnitude of the reengineering effort depends on the type of technology being implemented. Installing a transportation management system (TMS), for example, will generally involve less process reengineering than implementing a complete supply chain management suite. Regardless of the type of technology, however, companies should conduct a full process review early on. Next comes the process redesign. Improving data quality can be a big part of process reengineering. 

PLAN THE IMPLEMENTATION TIMING.

Implement the system at the easiest time of year for the business. If an implementation bumps up against peak season, for example, it is best to wait.  Companies should also consider carefully the pros and cons of a "big-bang" approach versus phasing in the new technology. 

When implementing the new technology, which helped automate its previous manual environment, start slowly and wait until you feel comfortable that the technology piece was running smoothly. As you start the next phase, make surey ou didn't overwhelm your users with too many changes at one time.

INVEST IN CHANGE MANAGEMENT. The challenges of implementing new technological tools go far beyond the systems themselves.  Addressing the change management aspects of implementation is where difficulties may arise. Companies that give lip service to change management but don't invest the necessary resources often pay the price with less-than-optimal results. To maximize the likelihood of a successful implementation, companies need to develop a communications plan that spells out a change management approach, including the process for gaining buy-in from those the change affects.

Rather than waiting until the technology has been selected, teams should be involved in the early stages of the change; otherwise staff members may feel steamrolled, and resent having to make the new technology work despite the fact that they weren't involved in its development. Also, companies can increase buy-in success by identifying informal leaders in the organization and bringing them onboard early in the process. Communicating with supply chain partners that will use the new system was also key for the company. 

PLAN THE IMPLEMENTATION TIMING. 

As a go-live date approaches and work still remains to be done, companies are often tempted to cut training time. Don not give in to this temptation... Like change management, companies often pay lip service to training, but don't commit to it. Companies that have been through an implementation will usually admit that they didn't train enough. Many companies have their technology vendor train the entire staff, but a train-the-trainer approach—where the systems vendor trains super users, who then train other users—is also effective. This approach transfers the knowledge to the company, and ensures that it has the in-house capacity to train new users in the future.

BE OPEN TO CHANGING YOUR GO-LIVE DATE. Customers will forgive you for being late; they'll never forgive you for being bad!

If your company is not on schedule to meet a go-live date, it is not okay just to speed things up. There's a natural tendency to do that, but sometimes you are simply too far behind schedule to catch up.

Companies not prepared to meet an initial implementation date should consider changing it. Avoid last-minute surprises by building milestones in your project schedule. If these criteria aren't met, think seriously about changing your go-live date.