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What a Near Perfect SAP Supply Chain Project Looks Like

Supply Chain“Delivering a project isn’t difficult. What’s difficult is delivering a project without first taking the time to plan properly”
― James Leal

With 23,000 users and 45 medical facilities including most of the hospitals province wide, this SAP Finance and Supply Chain six month project was going to be a whooper. The benefits of consolidating multiple company codes into one are massive, as it reduces multiple boards of directors, executives (one board of directors and one set of VP’s in the future) and allows simple access to all metrics. Now we can also easily benchmark and compare how efficient operations are from operating room costs to ordering band aids.

My role was Supply Chain Team Leader and we ultimately made sure that patient care and safety were never adversely affected.  Why was this a near flawless project?

Hire the best

Interviewing consultants is always an interesting experience. Plenty of CV’s with years of valuable SAP experience came across desks these days. We ended up hiring consultants that asked us intelligent questions and showed a genuine interest in the nature of the project. This proved to be a critical success factor as we utilized cutting edge technology tools and required consultants that were willing to explore its benefits and ask the right questions at the right time. Companies try to save money by hiring offshore, or having most of the team remote but you normally get what you pay for. It cost a bit more but the results proved to be outstanding.

Create the perfect blueprint to gather requirements

I used Visio flows to help design and drive the Supply Chain in my business process workshops and these Visio business processes were the perfect foundation to create accurate unit and integration tests. Visio is simple, visual, communicates well, and is easy to incorporate into a project plan.  All the reports, forms, integrations, enhancements and security were integrated into each business process. I don’t understand any Blueprinting session that doesn’t use Visio as a supporting tool.

LMT – Cutting edge technology amazes us

The use of the LMT data conversion tool provided not only exceptionally rapid data extraction, manipulation and upload capabilities but more importantly drastically reduced the volume of “transition” processes and work-load that typically needs to be invoked for weeks or months beyond go-live. Some examples are:

  • LMT was used to flag 800.000 materials for deletion in the old plants which took approximately 15 minutes whereas the standard mass update transaction MM17 took close to 36 hours.
  • Blocking and flagging vendors for deletion in the 9 old company codes and 10 old purchasing organizations for a total of about 200.000 records took less than 10 min of time as opposed to 18 hours using the standard mass update transaction XK99.
  • LMT is also capable to undo the changes in a ‘heart beat’ that were made to 800.000 material master records, which cannot easily be done by using the mass update transaction in MM17.

This was primarily a project that enabled an entire province to consolidate Financial and Supply Chain reporting into one company code. This brings enormous efficiencies to the entire medical community and in turn patients. LMT proved to be the perfect tool to convert huge amounts of data.

We incorporated lessons learned

From on-boarding new members, staffing, blueprinting, testing, cut over planning and GO LIVE support we used lessons learned from the previous two phases to tweak and adjust the six month project plan. We made this project a world class example of how a large scale SAP project should be executed and we were a bit shocked ourselves at how well GO LIVE went and how few defects were reported by the business.

We always had a physiologically safe environment

When solving issues, I gave team members the same amount of time to speak. Secondly I wanted to make sure no one felt left out or was secretly upset. This means being able to read faces and body language and asking what people were thinking about. This does not sound like a big deal, but when you give a room full of smart people the ability to fully express themselves, complex problems are solved quickly and incredible innovation is born throughout the project. It’s extremely important that in project mode, tight deadlines are met and our team needs to have all members collaborate in a respectful but highly efficient manner.   Google has proven that a physiologically safe environment is the key to excellent team work.

We laughed too loud

Yes we laughed too loud sometimes. The project had amazing chemistry amongst members and we had team dinners and team building sessions to further cement that chemistry. It was also a project with plenty of discipline, showing up late to meetings was not tolerated and we went over risks and issues each week with a fine tooth comb. We also found time to write handwritten “job done well” notes to each other and ended up making some new friends as well. It was a pleasure to get to know my team members on a personal basis and I’m sure we will stay in contact and see if any other SAP project will be as rewarding and successful as this one.

Summary – This Project was Really Important

Our client is on the leading edge of making a huge medical community more efficient. And we wanted to make it a success. You hear about spiraling medical costs constantly in the news. We collaborated closely with this exceptional client and we used tools and created designs that were never seen before. There will be challenges ahead but I’m grateful to have been part of what I consider a historical achievement in the medical and IT community.

Terry Vermeylen is hell bent on rapidly transforming your business into a World Class Operation by major transformation or by eliminating one bad habit at a time.

Terry Vermeylen brings 30+ years of experience in SAP and Supply Chain Process improvement. As an SAP professional and Supply Chain Architect he has worked and consulted for some of the world’s largest and most successful manufacturing companies focusing primarily on the Aerospace and Pharmaceutical industries.

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