Co-author and contributions by Fang Liu.
In recent years, Kinaxis RapidResponse has become the go-to system for supply chain planning and analytics for many manufacturers in the high-tech, automobile, consumer goods and life sciences industries. So in light of Kinaxis’ promise to help your company “know sooner and act faster” in an unpredictable market, there are a handful of elements that will help ensure that your RapidResponse implementation starts out – and stays on – the right foot.
1: Prioritize Your Approach
The team at Kinaxis have built a comprehensive supply chain planning and S&OP solution, which is great. But this means that a company simply cannot deploy all the applications RapidResponse offers at once – and even within a particular application, there will be decisions needed in terms of which requirements should be implemented first. Before beginning an implementation is the time to understand interdependencies and time to value so you can better prioritize efforts. For example, no matter how enthusiastic you are about running the S&OP application, if your company doesn’t already have decent demand and supply planning capabilities, this isn’t the place to begin. Adopting the best starting point means making an adequate investment in the assessment, roadmap, and requirement definition phases, since the decisions you make here will set the direction of the implementation.
2: Wrangle Your Data
Data “wrangling” is the term data scientists use for collecting, organizing, and cleaning up a data set before starting their analysis. Understanding and perhaps changing how your company captures, stores, and maintains master and transactional data is an important step in supporting your RapidResponse implementation. Bills of materials, lead times, and sourcing rules are examples of planning parameters that are critical for RapidResponse to yield meaningful results. As with all computing, the garbage-in-garbage-out axiom applies here with full force, and the earlier you get your data in shape, the more likely you are to avoid project overruns. So roll up your sleeves now to improve your data quality and make it available for the implementation.
3: Redesign Your Process
Are you ready for a moment of tough love? Your supply chain planning process will have to change if you want to get the most out of RapidResponse. This isn’t anyone’s fault, but the sooner you accept this, the better. RapidResponse is a Swiss Army knife with capabilities that run the gamut from long-term S&OP down to near-term exceptions management, and include powerful “what-if” scenario simulation engines. But the value of RapidResponse can only be maximized when the implementation is paired with adopting an integrated planning process that brings all your stakeholders, information, and analytics together with roles and responsibilities clearly defined. The technology implementation period is commonly the most effective time to get key people on board to embrace the change. This often means process redesign and integration at various planning levels so that you can reap the greatest rewards. Conversely, companies that treat a RapidResponse implementation as an IT-only project and walk through the process with little business-side involvement risk a disappointing return on investment.
4: Change Your Mindset
Just as it offers breakthrough capabilities to revolutionize the way you plan your supply chain, RapidResponse also provides an innovative platform to facilitate broader cross-function and inter-organization collaboration. Breaking down functional silos and extending decision input to your trading partners are not new ideas, but we all know that implementing these changes is tough – both mentally and technologically. Functions across organizations can have inherently competing interests, sometimes resulting in adversarial relationships, and it is difficult to get people to accept that today’s competition is no longer simply company versus company, but rather value chain versus value chain.
RapidResponse, however, can act as a technology enabler to transform this siloed mentality. Since the technology touches on all aspects of supply chain planning and includes far more intuitive collaboration platform than traditional communication channels, the implementation can serve as a foundation for stakeholders across the organization and value chain to experience just how simple collaboration can be and how much better performance can be when working together.
Savvy RapidResponse adopters will leverage their road-mapping, process redesign, and requirement gathering sessions to bring their disconnected functions together and promote mindset and behavior change throughout the organization. In many cases, this can also serve as a stepping stone to introducing a robust Integrated Planning Program, which is fundamental to gaining end-to-end visibility, and building a responsive and resilient value chain in today’s complex and volatile business environment.
While each RapidResponse implementation will have its own contours, keeping these high-level concepts in mind will help smooth the transition from preparation to implementation to adoption, and can help your organization reap the greatest benefit from your technology investment.