How to implement a Supply Chain Control Tower into your business? (Part 2)

Published by Ngoc Tran on

Live phase of SCCT implementation

Previously, we have talked about the first phase of implementing a Supply Chain Control Tower (SCCT) into your business, which is the Initiation/Orientation phase. The next implementation phase is go-Live. So, what should be accomplished during this step?

Sub-step 1: Development of the SCCT
You need something ready before implementing it! As discussed in the previous post, there are three implementation approaches: in-house built, outsourcing and co-creation. In case of in-house built and co-creation, your IT and/or Data Science specialists are responsible for writing the coding and algorithms of the SCCT IT architecture based on the draft version. They should also discuss with the cross-functional project team if anything needs to be changed. On the other hand, if you outsource the SCCT, it will be fewer pressure for the IT team as the SCCT is already available and may need to be customized to your business needs. The process may take up to 6 months if you follow the first two approaches. Now, it’s time to question your business: “Which approach is the most suitable to your business case? Consequently, what are the major costs and risks of the chosen approach? And how do you expect to deal with them?”

Sub-step 2: Piloting
Regardless of the implementation approach you follow, it’s better to test the SCCT systems before actually launching it to a large scale. To test it, the first way could be coping the SCCT to a webspace used only for testing where a company can do whatever with the SCCT to see if any issue occurs. Another option is to invite a representatives from all departments to perform the SCCT testing. They will be the future users and haven’t been involved in the SCCT development & implementation project, so their experience and feedback provide a more objective point of view. During this step, weekly meetings within the cross-functional team should be organized to discuss the adjustment and feedback from the testing users. Simultaneously, the team should regularly measure the SCCT performance by using the assessment forms. This process may take from about 1 to 3 months.

Sub-step 3: Go-live
When the SCCT performance is approved to be used at a larger scale, it is time to extend the SCCT iteratively. A suggestion is to start the live implementation in the inbound area because you can prevent several issues of the latter SC nodes if you do it right in the origin of your SC – inbound. First, training sessions should be scheduled before the go-live phase. Employees or SCCT users should have easy access to SCCT-related support, via the Service Desk, their managers, and the cross-functional team. Besides, regular monitoring of the SCCT performance should still be in place. At this stage, let’s critically think of the following concern: “How would you create a pleasant environment for employees to adapt to a new system or way of working?”

Change Management: How to support your employees to adapt to changes?

  • Top management should be visible and take the lead of changing the ways of working
  • Clearly communicate instructions to all relevant employees, via email, meetings, company’s news board
  • Offer multiple training options (e.g., online and in-person training sessions, on-demand training videos, pair new users with a mentor, etc.)
  • Pay attention to those having difficulties or resistance to changes (e.g., involve their line manager)
  • Make the changing process more attractive by applying training games (gamification), introducing an award of The Best Adaptable Employee of the Year, etc.
  • Offer daily SCCT-related support via Service Desk
  • Stimulate continuous learning culture and create a safe environment for everyone to learn the new system and accept mistakes

In short, during the Live phase, three key tasks are: develop a SCCT (or install it), conduct SCCT testing and implement the SCCT in one site/facility first, then in the next ones until all facilities incorporate the SCCT into their systems. The next post will discover the last step of the SCCT implementation and the impacts of this change on your business performance,….so stay tuned!

Thank you for reading and please share if you find it useful!

Recommended reading:
Control towers in supply chain management – past and future Trzuskawska-Grzesinska, (2017)
Applying machine learning on the data of a control tower in a retail distribution landscape (Kolner, 2019)
Development of a Tactical Strategy for a Supply Chain Control Tower (Bratendel & Gustafsson, 2020)
Implementation of an intelligent supply chain control tower: a socio-technical systems case study (Vlachos, 2021)

Series Supply Chain Control Tower


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