Success Story: Supporting Supply Chain Automation With Change Management

Supply chain automation can often require a complementary change management initiative to minimize operational disruption and ensure cross-functional alignment to the business strategy. It may seem like a no-brainer to roll-out change management; however, many leadership teams can overlook the significance of detailed communication to give teams the reassurance and reinforcement that their actions matter to the company’s success.

Covering people, processes, and systems affected by change, change management strategy is designed to ensure a smooth transition and successful adoption of new initiatives. This was indeed the case for a Profit Point client looking to shift away from spreadsheets to a 100% digital supply chain scheduling tool.

Our Approach to Change Management

Before you can even begin to think about implementing change management, you must find a tool that meets your unique business needs and requirements. Profit Point works with our clients to adapt their requirements according to available technology solutions and support available, navigating through must-haves and vendor support capabilities to deliver customizations.

After a tool is selected, the seeds of change management can start to be planted. We leveraged three key elements of change management to help our client transition to a digital scheduling system effectively:

  • Planning & Analysis– Thoroughly analyzing the impact of the proposed change, identifying key stakeholders, and creating a detailed plan helped us reduce risks, identify resource requirements, and reduce potential resistance to the change.
  • Communication & Engagement– Clear and effective communication informed stakeholders about the reasons for change, the expected benefits, and the timeline. Engaging employees and addressing their concerns helped build support for the change.
  • Feedback & Iteration– Gathering feedback from users provided valuable insights for improvement. We were able to make iterative adjustments to refine the strategy based on real-time experiences to drive results.

From my perspective Change Management is not just about strategy and approach, it is also about the people behind it, like myself and my associates who also believe strongly in the need for continuous adoption and improvement. That happens because each one of us is passionate about seeing our solutions go beyond being put to “good use”.  We build relationships with the people within the organization and continue to expand not only our understanding of the businesses and the needs of the people and processes behind those businesses, but also help organizations find opportunities to improve their businesses.

A Move away from Spreadsheets

In a recent engagement we achieved great success in helping a valued client eliminate their reliance on spreadsheets for production planning and scheduling. Moving to a digital tool that would become a single source of truth was a major shift for the organization. The path that we took included not only selecting the right technology, for this engagement as we chose Aspen SCM Plant Schedule (SCM) along with Aspen Schedule Explorer (ASE), but it also involved adherence to our Change Management approach and our belief in Continuous adoption and improvement.

We did this by implementing a baseline model with “live” data in ASE to demonstrate the capabilities of the new planning and scheduling solution.  As we moved through the implementation phase, we provided expert training to ensure effective and confident use of the baseline model. As we moved through the “hyper care” phase and gained acceptance by schedulers and consumers of the planning and scheduling information, we sought to learn additional requirements that would ensure full adoption.

Over a period of several weeks, we followed a continuous improvement approach and delivered valuable improvements to the baseline model and reinforced the knowledge and use of the tool with continuous training.  In working closely with planners and schedulers we were able to demonstrate the collaborative features of ASE to the rest of the organization and realize the full value that this solution provided.

With ASE, when the scheduler makes a change and publishes the schedule to a broader audience, not only can they see this change, but they can also communicate in real time with each other about this change and any other part of the production schedule.  As we gained full adoption, the organization now had an undisputed single source of truth upon which providers and consumers can collaborate and best of all, no spreadsheets.  

Additional benefits the client saw included:

  • Enhanced communication and improved visibility into schedule – This led to substantially faster communication to a broader team – improving quality and safety because of better and faster decision making when taking corrective action during unplanned events, improved schedule feasibility and adherence to quality and safety rules.
  • Better collaboration across supply chain team– By eliminating the manual tasks of managing spreadsheets, schedulers regained their time to make better schedules and regain ownership and control of the schedule. This along with improved collaboration led to increased trust in and improved execution of the schedules provided by the scheduler.

If you’re considering embarking on an expert driven detailed scheduling project or a supply chain optimization project, check out our proven methodology and see how we can help.

About Mark Gracey

Mark has 20 years of experience as both an Analyst and Developer of enterprise-wide and tactical solutions to help manage, optimize and improve operations in the Manufacturing Supply Chain.

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