Keys to Successful APS Implementation

Successful Advanced Planning System (APS) implementation calls for the right mix of budget, resources and expectations.

Some companies learn their lessons the hard way, and the expensive way, when implementing new software. Take the example of a leading consumer packaged goods company that decided to purchase software for sales forecasting and distribution requirements planning. The process seemed straightforward, especially for this large a corporation. But that was not the case.

Yes, the company went through an exhaustive review of business requirements, checked out options available in advanced planning software and evaluated potential return on investment. Following formal demonstrations of the chosen software’s capabilities, the company made its selection and purchased the product.

But despite all the time and money spent up to this point, this company still tried to cut corners, trying to achieve results “on the cheap” and did not follow the right path for implementing the system. As well, its expectations on performance and ROI were simply not realistic.

Implementation goes far beyond “plug and play”.

This client needed a sufficient budget for software implementation costs. Initial costs – including support from IT, external consultants, vendors and hardware – can often be double or even quadruple that of the software costs.

They also neglected the people factor. This company should have dedicated the right staff - both internal and external support people - while also managing the timelines on the implementation phase.

Senior management’s expectations for this software must be realistic. The client soon realized this was a long-term proposition and the newly-installed software would not lead to an immediate return on investment.

As a consequence of not properly budgeting and resourcing the implementation phase of the project, this client ultimately faced a good three years to fully install the software. This also resulted in a considerable delay in achieving their ROI targets.

The primary lesson when selecting and implementing advanced planning software is that it’s not simply a matter of plug and play and hoping that the solution brings immediate returns. After spending considerable time and money on software, companies should not cut corners. Instead, they need to apply the right mix of resources, qualified people, budget and realistic expectations.

If you have questions or comments on this blog, please contact Bill Simpson at bsimpson@supplychainsystems.com.

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