Despite the major cost-effectiveness and service benefits of a well-integrated Advanced Planning and Scheduling (APS) system, many businesses are falling short of the mark as staff do not possess the necessary skills mix needed to implement it effectively. This is according to Eddie Groom, senior consultant at global supply chain consultancy Crimson & Co.
The company conducted an in-depth review of the APS system market comprised of assessments of planning processes across 100 companies alongside interviews with global supply chain leaders in May 2016. The research found that successful use of APS systems and associated processes can lead to as much as 20 per cent reduction in working capital, 5 per cent increase in service levels, 6 per cent reduction in logistics costs and 3 per cent reduction in the cost of goods sold.
However, only 50 per cent of the processes Crimson surveyed reached a ‘Proficient’ rating, while 40 per cent were only at ‘Competency’ or below*, demonstrating some immaturity in the implementation of advanced planning and scheduling in modern businesses.
Eddie commented: “Many supply chain leaders are beginning to recognise the huge business benefits that implementing a new APS system can bring; the dramatic boosts to cost-efficiency and service levels speak for themselves. That being said, we’ve seen how many APS systems quickly lose their ‘fizz’ after the initial installation. Our research has revealed that in many instances, APS systems have not delivered high levels of process maturity.
“A key factor we’re seeing behind this efficiency deficit is a lack of supply chain planning skills amongst employees. The planner role when using an APS system needs a richer mix of supply chain, financial and analytical expertise to understand the inherent trade-offs in modern planning decisions. This skills mix is fundamental in APS systems because APS systems are inherently all about managing business trade-offs. In many cases, it can be difficult to find those personnel who possess all of these skills. Compared to the traditional technical skills needed for ERP systems, a much more diverse range of abilities is now required,” Eddie stated.
For companies struggling to maximise the benefits of their APS systems, or lacking the expertise to use them at full capacity, Eddie recommends the following best practices to drive greater value from their systems:
“We have used these techniques across a variety of businesses and industries to improve people capabilities, improve performance and align system configuration to organisational needs,” Eddie continued. “Using these to the best effect ensures that an APS system delivers on its original promises made in the heat of the system justification phase.
“The evolution of supply chain planning systems is now in its third decade, and forward thinking companies are recognising that if they continue to only give their APS system a half-hearted effort, they risk losing competitive advantage and put their future supply chain in jeopardy. Employing best practices and building teams with the right skills to action them is the best strategy for boosting APS effectiveness in no time,” Eddie concluded.
* The processes assessed fell into one of four categories – Not Competent, Competent, Proficient and Mastery
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