Before you implement a supply chain planning or execution solution, you should talk to other companies that have implemented the solution (ideally, about 20 companies), as well as consultants and analysts familiar with the technology. If you are a busy executive and don’t have the time to conduct these interviews, someone on your staff can execute this research or you can hire an outside firm like ARC to do it.
The specific questions you should ask depend partly on the type of solution you are implementing. But in general, here are some of the questions that I ask when I conduct these kinds of projects:
- SCOPE: What was the scope of the implementation? For example, if this was a warehouse management system implementation, how many facilities did you implement? If not all warehouses, which warehouses and why? How complex are your warehouses?
- PROCESS: What was your process before you implemented? How did your processes change after the implementation?
- PARTNERS: Which software vendor did you select? Which consulting or implementation partner? Why did you select them? Who else did you consider? Were you happy with these partners? Why or why not? If things went badly, was it partially your fault? Is there anyone on the vendor’s or consultant’s implementation team you would specifically recommend?
- COSTS: What did the software cost? The associated hardware? The cost of the implementation? Other costs?
- BENEFITS: What financial and nonfinancial benefits did you receive? Were there any unexpected benefits? How long did it take to implement? After going live, what was your payback period?
- PEOPLE: Does the solution require super users or users with special training? What kinds of background/training make for the best users? Are you going to need to let some people go and hire others better suited to use this application? What sorts of change management issues did you experience? Were there any cross functional issues?
- ADVICE: What would you do differently if you were to do the implementation over again? What advice would you give to others considering this kind of implementation? How can someone get the most out of a system like this on an ongoing basis?
Implementing a supply chain system is a lot like boating. There can be hidden shoals; conducting interviews with those in the know is how you build your depth chart.