Supply Chain Software Systems – The Human Factor

Supply Chain businesses can derive exponential benefits from their software systems — including supply chain management, enterprise resource planning, warehouse management, transportation management systems, and customer relationship management systems. However, many enterprises have been unable to take full advantage of these large investments simply because of the critical human factor is not given enough attention.

Potential Benefits Lost

Here’s a sample of the benefits of CRM, ERP and SCM systems:

  • With CRM software, revenue per sales person can increase by as much as 41 percent.

  • A 2013 Romanian study, by The Bucharest University of Economic Studies, revealed that SCM software was an important aspect of the logistics activities of 88 percent of surveyed companies.

  • A 2012 Aberdeen Group research highlighted the fact that ERP systems have the capacity of improving inventory turnover by an incredible 51 percent.

Unfortunately, the harsh reality for many companies is that such benefits are never fully realized. This is clearly portrayed by a 2016 study by Panorama Consulting, which uncovered the shocking fact that nearly half of surveyed businesses didn’t get even half of the anticipated benefits from ERP implementation.

You don’t have to look far to understand why this is so. Just evaluate how much such businesses invest in change management: this study revealed that, despite most companies investing in business process re-engineering, only a mere 20 percent had placed an intense focus on change management as part of the ERP implementation process. Evidently, this is the root cause of the problems, bearing in mind that the success of any ERP implementation is largely dependent on organizational change management and business process re-engineering.

A key consideration of change management is the human element: how individuals and/ or teams deal with organizational change. No wonder Beacon Grace, LLC services always takes a synergistic and holistic approach in supply chain consultancy and support services, beyond just the technical aspects. Disregarding the human element would only lead to disaster.

People Who Are Crucial to Successful ERP, CRM and SCM Implementation

It’s important that every person in the entire implementation process is considered, starting from technical teams to end-users to management:

1. Software Vendors

Contrary to those believing or wishing, software systems are not perfect. Of course, it is natural for a business to want a software system to solve all their problems. However, facing the reality of the human factor can better enable a supply chain firm to better optimize their software investment.

These software vendors, many times, are great marketers. They market themselves as experts in the industry. But, looking deeper, we see that staff they hire do not have the same experience as the firm is marketing. The capacity of any software depends on a programmer’s capability. No wonder 67 percent of businesses, sampled in a 2011 IFS AB study, stated that their current ERP didn’t have as much industry-specific functionality as they needed. Most likely, the programmers didn’t have the relevant industry-specific knowledge. It can be extremely difficult for software vendors to hire programmers who also have industry knowledge and understanding. And, many software vendors simply do not require programmers to have industry knowledge. This ultimately weakens the software product.

Beacon Grace brings both technical and industry specific experience, knowledge, and understanding. It is crucial to have a dedicated and unbiased consulting firm, such as Beacon Grace, to guide you from the very start and help match your company needs and objectives with the right vendor capable of designing a tailor-made solution.

2. Decision-Makers

Many times, key decision makers will allocate implementation tasks to others in their organization. Without careful oversight, some in the organization tend to over customize the software solution. It happens many times – customizing a system to “look” like their previous system. Some of this customization can interfere with the core design and functionality of the new software solution. For example, customizing allocation can interfere with the heart of a WMS system. It is also common for business users to design a customized solution with little consultancy leading to over-engineer solutions or solutions causing disastrous consequences.

To bring synergy between decision makers, implementation teams, and software vendors, Beacon Grace is a valuable resource. As a strategic project partner, we can help optimize your investment by reducing risk and preventing disaster.

3. Staff

Obviously, no system can work well if the staff cannot adapt to new processes fast enough or effectively.

Several issues determine how well staff adapt to new ERP, CRM or SCM implementation:

– Type of staff: Unlike training permanent employees, companies should develop effective yet flexible methods of training seasonal or temporary workers. – Workload: Proper contingency measures should be available during peak operation times, since increased workloads often lead to staff mistakes. – Training needs: It’s not just enough to take the staff through training; you should also ensure that the training is consistent for each staff member. Informal or less formal training methods has a tendency to introduced variations on content coverage, and ultimately how well the staff member was trained.

4. Testers

From Becky Willard’s long experience, she understands how different professionals would end up testing software implementation projects or changes differently. This includes such professionals as programmers, analysts, business leaders and end-users. Having this awareness is vital in gauging the reliability of test outcomes.

Evidently, it isn’t possible to eliminate all human error and even the most thoroughly tested system could still be overwhelmed by unprecedented volumes or unexpected data. Hence, exception handling should be part and parcel of the system implementation process. With the dedicated guidance and support of Becky Willard and her capable team, you’re assured of implementing a highly functional system that caters to a wide range of human and exception factors.

Human Factor