The litany of headaches related to the implementation and on-going care-and-feeding of enterprise-based inventory management applications (upgrading, downtime, maintenance, hardware obsolescence, and so on) is long. These implementation issues are enough make the savviest of companies want to engage in anything but another supply chain or inventory management software implementation.
For this reason, your organization should consider adopting a hosted inventory management solution.
Because such solutions are web-based, adopting them is as easy as selecting the processes you want to use or share, determining the roles of your users, and, using templates, loading the data. The biggest hurdle is usually getting the correct data if it has not been collected before. You determine the processes you want to map and the vendor guides you through the rest of the process.
The primary reason such solutions can be implemented so quickly is that they are based upon an “on demand" or ASP (application service provider) model. This means there is no software or hardware to implement. This costly time consuming activity has already been done by the vendor. As you pay only for the users, this saves you a lot time and dollars. You determine the process flows (what steps you want to use), import data into the templates, upload the information into the application, and go. It really can be that easy.
Naturally you also want to get your customers on-line. Most vendors will provide you with training, and also train your customers, and their customers. The more people (customers and suppliers) using your network and extended network the greater the returns you and your customers will experience.
Here’s your five-day roadmap for getting better at managing your inventory:
Day 1: Due diligence
- Contact vendor to arrange detailed system review
- Internal review of high level program goals and system fit
- Communication program goals with customers or suppliers
- Follow-up questions regarding system
Day 2: Go/ no go decision
- Go - Decide to go forward with project
- No go - Schedule a future review of project
Day 3: Planning
- Review current as is processes
- Determine/ articulate VMI goals
- Reduce inventory, provide inventory information to suppliers/customers, etc.
- Based upon your goals determine the appropriate VMI approach(es): Vendor Managed, Consignment, Third Party
- Articulate the terms of the program (who owns the inventory payment terms, penalties, inventory levels, etc. )
- Select a vendor/customer and their products for a pilot
- Map out flow of data, material, and financial information
Day 4: Setup and pilot
- Populate the application’s provided tables
- Setup users and their roles
- Setup process flows
- Setup integration at appropriate level and points
- Provide training for the various roles
- Load the application’s required information
- Validate the pilot
- Measure if the program goals were met
Day 5: Rollout
- Adjust program if required
- Add additional vendors/suppliers
- Rollout additional users
Ken Town is VP Research and Technology at Invendia , a leading provider of Vendor Managed Inventory (VMI) and Web-based Inventory solutions.