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July 29, 2011

SAP Extended Warehouse Management

by Madhup Mukund Paturkar & Yudhishthir Shrikant Joshi

Integration between Supply Chain partners with efficient data sharing is the need of the hour. The multifold business growth and expansions naturally accentuated the importance of Logistics and storage and its integration with overall supply chain. As the business extracted synergy out of upward integration as well as inorganic growth, they also expected the Enterprise solutions to complement this synergy.

Early generation of ERP became an enabler and a fitting solution to their needs in warehouse processes. The stock accuracy, inventory controls have become the basic expectations out of a system. Managers in this competitive era need value added products with automated processes, efficient data management using batch / serial numbers, centralized monitoring cockpits, integrated resource management et al.

SAP offering in enhancing Supply Chain suit in Logistics & storage is SAP Extended Warehouse Management (SAP EWM). SAP EWM evolved and addressed the precise need of business in Warehouse Operations and integrates warehouse processes seamlessly with entire supply chain.

SAP EWM provided a warehousing solution which is not restricted to stock management but is highly integrated with resource management, yard management, ASRS interfaces, specialized and value added services within warehouse.Some of the differentiating functionalities of SAP EWM apart from the areas mentioned above are given below. In next few blogs we will go in detail about the functionalities and we would like get your view on the same.

Multi step movements

For absolute mapping of material movements within warehouse to SAP, EWM provides a unique feature of process oriented and layout oriented storage control. Mapping from the unloading process at warehouse doors to all the intermediate processes before putaway and similarly for internal processes can be efficiently done.

Packaging specification

EWM offers flexible handling unit management process, supported by condition technique. EWM has done away with SU management. Material handling at every level is done by HUs. Condition technique makes the product lot flexible to address changing business requirement.

Slotting and Re-arrangements

 EWM offers process of determining optimum storage which can be based on various parameters. The slotting jobs can be planned to ensure the optimum storage on continuous basis.

Central monitoring tool

The critical need of a warehouse manager is a centralized cockpit for overall warehouse operation status. EWM offers centralized warehouse monitor for this purpose. It is a configurable monitor (a highly customizable without ABAP coding), which also allows the user to perform multiple actions through single transaction with the help of Nodes.

July 10, 2011

ESS MSS An Implementation Approach

Self service applications continue as the main focus of HR Departments as these applications try to control the cost incurred by IT departments for HR services and deliver increased and efficient services, processes to both employees and customers. It also gives an enhanced productivity with minimal manpower for all organizational departments

The blog will be in four different Parts summarizing the companies can benefit with the overall service delivery strategies, change management process. It also explains the delivery approach highlighting some critical success factors. It also has pointers on  testing strategies and issue resolutions during the self service implementations.

Role of  Change Management

 Adoption and Compliance One of the key steps in change management is to ensure universal acceptance or adoption across the business, and then to test that the systems are working as planned. Conduct usability testing process as early as possible with a particular user group for their acclimatization to the processes. During the realization phase of the project, we should check if the self service applications are working as required. Create a user group that can test the applications for the different process forms. Conduct working sessions that can provide the end users with real time business scenarios and complete the piece of functional process flow. Once the users have tested the functionality collect the results and isolate the common issues. The best practice is to address the user issues before rolling out the process in order to gain the maximum acceptance and adoption of the new functionality. Depending upon volume of changes which needs to be  incorporated we need to be proactive in planning diligently the realistic implementation timelines if we are at the assessment, build /development or testing stage  of the application.  The big challenge here is the change management and scope of changes incorporated in the timeframe of the project. We need to explicitly communicate the terms and guidelines and factors which might create roadblocks and hindrance that may not be evident to the employees and Managers. One approach to mitigate the impact is to introduce the unfamiliar terminologies with the FAQ document that is readily accessible on the portal for users to easily access during the transaction. Educating users on new terminology helps to remove the apprehension associated with the new technology or products we are planning to deploy at the customer site.

 Communication:

Communication plan should be pretty effective and straight forward. Always limit the number of emails generated in the system. Email automation should be kept to a minimum in the self service design.SAP software's standard workflow functionality can be leveraged or enhanced for approval process and notifications. Some of these notifications will be based on Portals .Try to manage certain notifications centrally from HR. In some companies, that is not a change .It is a good idea to manually manage communications from the compensation department or HR as it is a condensed period of time when system generated emails could provide burden to the users and also have system dependency issues in case of timely notifications not reaching them during the crirtical business functions .At the end of blueprint stage, it is important to review the various communications that employees and managers will receive throughout the process to ensure they will not be confused by repetitive messages.

 Steering Committee: A steering committee should be formed and is highly recommended during the project to review project status and to provide advice on key and outstanding issues addressing the business concerns and aligning them with the IT development team. The senior management is normally representing this group. As the project reaches a critical path anytime during the implementation, it may be necessary to increase the number of meetings or call meetings to resolve issues and remove any roadblocks along the project. Many companies have the post go-live committee which I highly effective and recommended to hash out any post go live issues and sync the business acceptance level with the business community.
Review any changes to online forms, Transactions and processes with the affected business units and functions. Workflow enabled process should prompt a review from other areas in the company that may have critical dependencies or feedback about how the new forms and processes will impact them. Making processes and forms too complicated may have minimum acceptance from business community from using them company wide, if business rules and user's interfaces cannot be reconciled or standardized between the groups. We need to optimize and design the workflows to the simplistic possible and adhere to the business acceptance levels and criteria.

 

July 5, 2011

Deciding on SAP Supplier Collaboration solution dilemma - SAP SNC or SUS?

by Sanjeev Pandey

SAP SCM Practice

Deciding on supplier collaboration solution from SAP can be elaborate exercise as SAP provides multiple products in this area.
One is SAP SNC (Supply Network Collaboration) which is part of SAP SCM suite. The other product is SUS (Supplier Self Services) from SAP SRM suite. Though there is some noise about merging of these two similar products by SAP, still concrete information is yet to come on this front. So how do we decide which product to choose for supplier collaboration?

First of all let's try to understand the need of supplier collaboration in today's scenario. In the current world scenario, supply chains are getting increasingly complex and networked with multi country sourcing, multi-level supplier relationships like contract manufacturing, OEM, subcontracting etc. coming into picture in a big way. Also, with dynamic demand variation, it becomes imperative to respond quickly without creating large ripples in the entire supply chain.
In today's world there is much broader scope for supplier collaboration, as it is required in multiple areas like quality management, delivery management etc.
The need for an integrated approach towards supplier collaboration is fuelled by the following objectives:
1. Reduce time to market for new products by using design collaboration with suppliers
2. Reduce transactional costs and paper work
3. Respond to demand changes with agility
The concept of supplier collaboration and its obvious benefits has been known to organizations for long, but the adoption rate has been quite low.  Solutions like Vendor Managed Inventory etc. have been there for quite some time.  However these were mainly targeted at Tier 1 suppliers falling under high volume and high value category. There is still considerable scope to extract business value by looping in Tier 2 and Tier 3 suppliers under supplier collaboration program, but the challenge here lies in providing a cost effective collaborative solution. 

Upload 001.pngClosing the loop with Tier 2 and Tier 3 suppliers

Though supplier collaboration sounds like an ideal solution to solve supply chain problems, in real world it's increasingly difficult to deploy a truly integrated supplier collaboration solution mainly due to following challenges:
1. Lack of cost effective solutions to loop in Tier1 and Tier2 suppliers of organizations
2. Data exchange in secured manner
3. Cost of maintaining network for establishing collaboration
4. Rules and regulations in different countries
SAP now provides two competing products SAP SNC and SUS for supplier collaboration.
Though these two products look to provide seemingly similar functionalities, but if you scratch beneath the surface, important differences start to emerge.
SUS (Supplier Self Services) came up as an add-on functionality of SAP SRM offering supplier collaboration solution. The functionalities introduced were - PO collaboration, Scheduling agreement collaboration, Services procurement collaboration.
SUS evolved into mainly two deployment scenarios:
1. Direct procurement
2. Services and Indirect Procurement
Direct procurement (MM - SUS) scenario integrated SAP ECC with SUS and facilitated PO collaboration, ASN management and Invoice collaboration.
Services procurement scenario initially started with EBP-SUS (both are components of SAP SRM) integration. It provided PO collaboration, service entry collaboration, invoice collaboration functionalities. However a major limitation was its inability to provide integration with SAP ECC backend.
As of SAP SRM 7.0 and ECC 6.0 (EHP4), SAP now provides both direct procurement and services procurement with MM-SUS scenario.
An important additional functionality with SUS is supplier self-registration and supplier data management.
SAP SNC on the other hand started initially as SAP ICH (Inventory Collaboration Hub) product. SAP ICH was mainly targeted to provide real time inventory collaboration and Vendor Managed inventory functionality. SAP ICH subsequently evolved into SAP SNC and was merged into SAP SCM suite to mark the broader footprint in supplier collaboration functionality.
With SAP SNC (EHP1) and SAP ECC (EHP5), it now provides a much broader spectrum of functionalities like Quality Collaboration, Delivery collaboration along with direct procurement collaboration like VMI, Kanban, PO collaboration and Work order collaboration.

So how do we pitch SAP SNC vis-a-vis SAP SUS.  The advantage with both solutions are that both are accessible through web interface and do not require dedicated network like WLAN etc. as required for EDI interfaces. So, even smaller and medium suppliers can be onboard easily. They also exchange data with XML messages; therefore it is easy to integrate it even with non-sap backend systems.
As a customer one needs to evaluate its current SAP/non-SAP system landscape, its business processes and future roadmap of supply chain enablement to arrive at a decision.
For large manufacturing organizations, it makes sense to go for SAP SNC as they can reap major benefits through enhanced collaboration functionalities. They can do without SUS, however, if services procurement is significant spend; then SUS can be implemented as well.
For services industry like utilities, energy, IT etc., they can do without SNC and need only SUS as the majority procurement is for indirect goods and services.
At the end, I think, there has to be a trade off decision between reducing TCO and realizing spend savings by implementing any of the supplier collaboration solutions.

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