A recent article in Supply Chain Leader on synchronizing supply chain applications with continuous change had some good tips on how to manage the challenges that come with any technology deployment, including technology deployed to support the supply management organization. As the article notes, even the best designed applications won’t deliver with a deploy-and-do-nothing approach. Value comes from continual use, and continual upkeep, and this only happens if you conquer the challenges and get the adoption levels you need, quickly.
According to the article, these are four of the biggest challenges and the best ways to combat them:
- Operational Challenges
Retaining operational knowledge is a challenge for the best of organizations. A continual commitment to training and employee process ownership is key.
- Evolutionary Challenges
Continuously changing demand requirements, competitive pressures, and supply arrangements put a strain on even the most agile supply management departments. They key to success is to continually monitor application usefulness, and when performance starts to slide, refine the models, data, and application thereof. This will require regular maintenance and updates for an on-premise application, or regular product direction councils with your SaaS vendor to make sure the application stays as relevant as the day you bought it.
- Organizational Challenges
Many applications are implemented to respond to certain business needs, but priorities shift over time. As attention gets diverted, applications lose executive sponsorship and the (financial) support required to keep them relevant. In order to make sure this doesn’t happen, current and potential application usefulness needs to be reviewed every year along with the potential savings that could be realized if the application obtained the necessary support. Then, a business plan that presents the ROI can be prepared to secure necessary funding. And if the ROI isn’t there, you know it’s time to replace the application with a more appropriate one, and you can focus your efforts on building that business plan instead.
- Infrastructure Challenges
As the technology landscape continues to evolve, new hardware and middleware releases bring new technology and innovations to the table. Every upgrade of infrastructure opens questions of compatibility, both backward and forward, requiring business applications to be upgraded. But if you keep track of your current compatibility requirements in a compatibility matrix, and analyze upgrade requirements before a planned upgrade, you can insure that the infrastructure environment evolves to support your application needs.