At Planet 2000, i2 Technologies' recent user conference, Marge Namdar
of Texas Instruments reviewed benefits realized and lessons learned in
their epic 3-year implementation of i2 and SAP. The multinational semiconductor
manufacturer implemented i2's TradeMatrix Supply Chain Planner, Factory
Planner, and Demand Planner products jointly with SAP's R/3 Supply Allocation
Planning to create a platform that would unite the supply chains of several
plants around the globe.
regard the TI project as the most ambitious simultaneous supply chain-ERP
implementation ever undertaken. The new solution affects over 42 sites
in 25 countries and touches an audience of 10,000 internal TI employees
and over 2,000 external suppliers, customers, and distributors. In addition
to resources from TI, i2 and SAP, the project team included representatives
from Andersen Consulting, Sun Microsystems, Cisco Systems, and others.
A project of such monolithic scale is risky but gives participants a unique
perspective from which others may learn. As Planning and Shipping Systems
Support Manager for TI, Namdar presented her insights with the unmistakable
gravity of one who has lived on the front lines and witnessed battle first-hand.
While few would doubt the extreme difficulty involved in a project as
large as TI's, Namdar and her colleagues were misled by certain well-meaning
groups (probably before a deal was signed) into underestimating the difficulties
involved. As Namdar put it, "if anyone tells you it's going to go really
smoothly, they're lying." Texas Instruments devised novel strategies for
dealing with the more difficult and unpredictable aspects of the implementation.
The most interesting of these was the "War Room," a physical location
staffed by knowledgeable project personnel who would respond to questions
and issues "by any means possible as quickly as possible."
another reference to organizations of war, TI mobilized small groups called
"triage teams" to address unforeseen problems that sprang up during the
final conversion phase. Each team was composed of three to four project
personnel having expertise specific to a particular emergency. The sole
objective of each team was to resolve the problem as quickly as possible
without affecting implementation work that had already been completed.
also emphasized the importance of maintaining open channels of communication
among separate project sub-teams and between these teams and the project
high command. Good communication ensures that activities of different
groups contribute in a focused manner to the common, higher-level goal.
Users who regard the TI story as characteristic only of global multi-site
integrations involving i2 TradeMatrix and other enterprise applications
are kidding themselves. The elements that created problems for TI exist
to some degree in any supply chain management implementation. Points to
consider for companies that plan to attack supply chain engagements of
team needs to prepare a list of detailed requirements by involving end
users and then conduct a careful evaluation of several packages to find
the one that best fulfills them.
- No supply
chain management solution will work unless the parties involved agree
upon the business processes it is designed to support. Obtaining this
agreement should be an ongoing process that starts before the technical
aspects of the project begin and continues through the implementation
phase by allowing all organizational entities, both internal and external,
to understand the new changes.
should determine the project scope at the outset and adhere to it throughout
the implementation. New requirements that arise during the implementation
should be prioritized and only the "must-have" changes should be made.
should always be constructed using a bottom-up approach, where project
milestones are determined by the availability of people, software, and
hardware. Timelines drawn to coincide with marketing expectations are
almost always revised.
project scope spans multiple business functions, users should employ
a phased implementation approach to reduce the complexity of the project.
Lessons learned in the early phases can often be applied to succeeding
prototyping provides a basic system to users who then have a tactile
understanding of what the new system will look like and how it will
- End users,
those who will be working with the new system on a daily basis, should
be included in the project implementation phase early on. Managers need
to give these key users time off from their normal duties to contribute
their expertise to the project. This commitment requires the support
of top management.