With SAP: It's a Democracy and you're the Dictator

William Cerniglia, CIO, Drive Medical
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William Cerniglia, CIO, Drive Medical

William Cerniglia, CIO, Drive Medical

Deployment of innovative solutions on top of the SAP platform has added value to our business. The rapid growth of our  E-commerce and retail business has resulted in an increase in the number of small package shipments. Many of these shipments  Were single item orders with the ability to ship with a small package carrier. As part of our continuous improvement program, we wanted to find a way to increase the efficiency of the shipping process for these types of orders. We started by  Analyzing our small package shipments and determined that we had roughly one hundred and twenty five different products that  Had a very high velocity. We decided to create a special picking area to accommodate these types of shipments. We setup an  Area in the warehouse with fixed bin locations (bins that always held the same inventory) these bins were all located at the  Floor level in two adjoining rows. This was done with basic SAP warehouse configuration and updating master data. With minor  Custom ABAP code in the Transfer Order Creation program we routed the single line transfer orders “TO’s” to a special RF picking queue.

"Stick to a “Best Practice” approach, only customize when best practices do not fit your business need"

We then loaded the fixed bins with the one hundred and twenty five items that were identified in our analysis. Since these  with SAP: It’s a Democracy and you’re the Dictator By William Cerniglia, CIO, Drive Medical Port Washington, NY based Drive  Medical manufactures durable medical equipment. cio viewpoint William Cerniglia CIOReview|1 0 1| may 2014 bins held only a  few days’ worth of product, we created a simple replenishment process to refill them. The result of our development was an  efficient system to pick a specific group of orders. No special equipment was needed because all products were in storage  locations at the floor level. By isolating these orders to a single picking queue, we were able to assign employees to pick  just these types of orders. Further efficiency was gained by locating this picking area close to the loading bays.  understanding the taken time to process an order enabled us to pick, pack and load orders in a seamless f low. After two  weeks of f ine t uning, we increased the productivity of the people picking in this system by 30 percent.

However, implementing SAP or any ERP software is an enormous undertaking and comes with its own mistakes that companies make. On the go-live weekend, all the employees will leave work on Friday evening and when they return on Monday morning, every one of them will do their job differently. To put things in perspective, on Friday ask all your employees to change their login   password. On Monday morning, count how many calls the IT help desk gets. Now times that by hundred and that’s the magnitude  of the undertaking.

Here are a few things that have all been said before but worth repeating.

Keep in mind that no one likes change unless it is happening to someone else. Select the right people for the implementation  team. For instance, do not select the newly hired purchasing employee just because he is the least busy and s eemingly t he l east e ssential t o a d epartment. I nstead you want people who know how your business operates but who will also embrace  new ideas and methods. Make sure the team knows the project charter and it shouldn’t make the new ERP software look like the  old one. Try to stick to a “Best Practice” approach, only customize when best practices do not fit your business need. This  is easier said than done. You may have to have the spirited conversation in the conference room. If all else fails, remember  it’s a democracy and you’re the dictator: words that my father told me many times when I was young.

Clean your data! Then clean it again, it is tremendously important and you will never have a better opportunity. Train your  super users early, the more people who can answer user questions, the better. Do formal training and log how much each person has been trained. The last thing you want to hear on go-live day is “No one showed me how to do that”. Training is nothing  without documentation and demonstration, remember less words and more pictures. Don’t do all this under the cloak of  darkness. Talk to your user community, they know what is happening in the dayto- day better than their supervisors and  managers. Ask your users questions, show them what you are developing and let them take part in the process. Remember it’s  our project! Our projects always have a better chance of success.

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