The Infosys global supply chain management blog enables leaner supply chains through process and IT related interventions. Discuss the latest trends and solutions across the supply chain management landscape.

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January 31, 2011

Best practices for Master Data Load & Validation - Part 2

In my previous blog, you read some of the best practices of preparation of data capture template. As you know, data is the fundamental to all performance metrics in your organization, data accelerates discussions, supports in gaining consensus from stake holders and eases decision making in any organization, you make sure to include all the important data fields in the data template during the tempate preparation phase. Preparation of Data Capture Template continues 
  • Maintain version history for the data templates - this helps you to track the changes, to correct errors without affecting previous changes, to append data in the template etc.
  • Follow easy file nomenclatures - this helps you to easily identity the data templates in future, to communicate better using the file names among the team, to avoid work on wrong files etc.
  • Maintain the data templates in an organized folder structure in a document management system for easy sharing and retrieval.

Validating the data before load

Once you capture the data in the template, you will have a holistic view of the available data. According to Gartner, organizations should consider the below mentioned data quality issues

  1. Existence (whether you have the required data)
  2. Validity (whether your data values fall within an acceptable range or domain)
  3. Consistency (whether the same piece of data stored in multiple locations contains the same values)
  4. Integrity (the completeness of relationships between data elements and across data sets
  5. Accuracy (whether the data describes the properties of the object it is meant to model)
  6. Relevance (whether the data is the appropriate data to support the business objectives)

There are basic validations which you validate directly from the template - whether item or customer record has the key information, whether the data type is alphanumeric or integer, whether the field length is correct etc. But there are validations which you measure from an User's perspective - whether the template data includes all the available vendors and customers , whether the GL account of the storerooms are correct ? whether the customer address is the real address ? whether the item availability in the storeroom matches the actual stock availability etc. Find out all such data quality check list, validate the data, find out issues and correct the data in the template before you load the data into the ERP system. Usually, this will undergo multiple iterations and multiple stake holders will review the data as part of pre load validation phase.

Please add your comments and thoughts on this post. I would continue this topic in my next blog.

January 4, 2011

SAP SRM and PLM integration

Recently we received a requirement for showcasing our credentials in SRM-PLM integration space, with the experience of being a part of the team who executed this assignment I would like to share the same with the functional and technical feasibility of the carryover of business turnaround especially the round robin procurement process in engineering projects. With this integration it gives leverage to the purchasers with a good sight for negotiating in a competitive environment

SAP Supplier Relationship Management (SAP SRM) supports integration with SAP Product Lifecycle Management (PLM) cFolders 2.0 or higher. After the installation of the SAP PLM cFolders, the purchasers can have their space to communicate clearly the engineering design documents and share the information with the potential suppliers and create a folder there to store information, and share it with potential suppliers. PLM functionality has a template which can be used by both parties where specific information relative to the specifications and design can be stored, the data can be kept more confidential by having segregation like public or private folders function for both purchasers and bidders.
To achieve this technical integration between SAP SRM and SAP PLM key configurations required are
1) Defining a new Logical System for cFolders in both systems for communication between the two systems
2) Define Logical System as a Back-end System so for SRM cFolders would be the backend system for any document flow
3) Adding cFolders Role Users for Purchasers and Bidders, and RFC Users in SRM system this enables the Purchasers and Bidders to access the documents dependent on the role
4) Add cFolders Role to Composite Roles for Purchasers and RFC Users
5) Activate Service CFX_RFC_UI and Create an External Alias in the cFolder System
6) Test Service CFX_RFC_UI
7) Configuring the users for communications
Once when the technical integration is achieved the functional flow to carryover the business can go along the process to follow is as below
1) The purchaser creates an RFx in SAP SRM, and then creates a cFolder for that RFx. The purchaser can do this under Collaboration in the Documents area of the Header data tab page in SAP SRM. When the purchaser chooses Create, a folder is set up automatically in a public area in cFolders, as part of the competitive scenario.
It is important at this point to save the RFx by choosing Save. If the RFx is not saved and subsequently gets lost, the link to the folder in cFolders will also be lost and you will be unable to retrieve it.


2) The purchaser goes to the cFolder and invites the engineers on the purchasing side to place all the relevant design and specification information in the folder for potential bidders to view. Only the purchasing side can make changes to the public area of the folder.

PLM.png3)  When potential bidders access an RFx, they can see whether or not a folder has been created for that RFx. If it has, they can follow the link to the folder in the public area in cFolders, view the project information, and decide if they wish to submit a bid.
4)  Once a bidder chooses Create bid, a private area is created automatically in cFolders and all the data is copied from the public area to the private area. In this private area, bidders can place all the information surrounding their offer, and revise and update it at any time.
5) The purchasing side determines a winning bid.
6) All project participants on both the purchasing and supply sides can access the work area in cFolders,and add to and correct the data until all parties have agreed on the final and binding specifications.
Methods for working together include:
a) Documents
b) Bookmarks
c) Data sheets
d) Discussions forums
The link to cFolders is included in the bid and also in the follow-on purchase order or contract. The
collaboration area remains open, allowing the purchaser and the supplier to refine the design
documents even after the winning bid has been determined.

This integration is very useful for engineering relative procurement for corrective buying in a collaborative environment between the purchasing organization and engineering department.

January 2, 2011

Supply Chain Modeling- the real possibilities

The chains of habits are too weak to be felt until they are too strong to be broken.

Can Existing Supply Chains be Modeled for Results?

There are a variety of supply chain models, which address both the upstream and downstream processes. The SCOR is one such model.

The SCOR or Supply Chain Operations Reference model, developed by the Supply Chain Council, measures total supply chain performance. It is a process reference model for supply-chain management, spanning from the supplier's supplier to the customer's customer.It includes delivery and order fulfillment performance, production flexibility, warranty and returns processing costs, inventory and asset turns, and other factors in evaluating the overall effective performance of a supply chain.

The Global Supply Chain Forum (GSCF) introduced another Supply Chain Model. This framework is built on 8 key business processes that are both cross-functional and cross-enterprise in nature. Each process is managed by a cross-functional team, including representatives from finance, logistics, production, purchasing, finance, marketing and research and development. While each process will interface with key customers and suppliers, the customer relationship management and supplier relationship management processes form the critical linkages in the supply chain.

Supply chain leaders must investigate current business processes and practices for fitment to SCOR. When Supply chains can be measured in terms of dollars and units, metrics and parameters - modeling for results and cross-functional collaboration happen.

Performance is a function of defined process, its constraints and outcomes. Consistent results and lost opportunities must be recorded for sustaining benefits. Modeling is just the begining of a journey to create a successful and un-surprising Supply chain. Changes to behavior in decision-making is the point when one can be certain that their Supply chain model is working.

January 1, 2011

Asset Management Predictions for new decade

As we are welcoming the New Year 2011, I tried to figure out what Asset Management software users (mainly Asset Intensive organizations) should look for from their Asset Management implementation in next few years. Based on my experience from some direct & indirect client interactions in last couple of years, I tried putting together a list of trends and here is the synopsis.

In my view, Asset management software trends would vary based on the geography or economy. I see two different kinds of geographies/economies: (i) Matured Market (ii) Emerging Market. These two markets would have significant differences in Asset Management Software needs.

Matured Market - Most of the organizations in these markets have been using asset management applications for some time and now they should look for value adds to their existing implementations. Typical value adds, they should consider are:

• Consolidation & Upgrade - Many organizations in these markets have been using multiple applications, instances or versions of asset management applications due to various technology & applications limitations, acquisition of new plants using different applications, geographical spread etc. These organizations should look for consolidating their disparate systems into one platform of a single version of one application. This consolidation would help these organizations in harmonizing their business processes, reducing redundancy & inconsistency across applications, reduction in overall cost of operations, improvement in operational efficiency etc to name few of the benefits.

• Predictive Maintenance - Most of the organizations in these markets are still mainly using asset management software for Preventive & corrective maintenance. They use Predictive maintenance to some extent but are not taking full advantage. Predictive Maintenance should be the next area of improvement for them to move one level higher in asset management maturity model.

• Mobility Solutions - Though few of the organizations use mobile solutions for their asset management users, but Mobile solutions usage is still not reached the maturity levels as it should have. Maintenance users are not the back-office users and they work most of the time in the field working with machines, hence in order to increase their efficiency, organizations should look for equipping them with application enabled mobile devices where they should be able to access & use all features of asset management application quickly & easily.

• Integration with sensors, smart devices, GIS - Organizations in this market should start exploring the usage of integrating their asset management applications with smart devices to increase the uptime of their assets. Few organizations have integration with RFID tags, GIS etc. Advancement in technology fuelled by increased awareness in market & resource availability has mad

• Visualization, Optimization & Usability - End users for asset management applications are mainly the maintenance technicians & field engineers who are more comfortable with their production machines than the computer systems running software applications. Hence these users would look for an enhanced usability from asset management applications which would help them in using the software with fewer clicks in less time. Touch Screens, easier navigations etc could be some solutions for these users.

Emerging Market- Lots of new infrastructure is being developed for this market. Airports, Rail & Road infrastructure, Power Plants, Oil & Gas Refineries are coming up, which all need asset management applications to manage their heavy & critical assets. Hence these markets would take time to reach the level of asset management software usages as in matured economies. These markets have different needs:

• Master Data Management- These organizations would focus more on having a reliable, usable master data in their asset management software. Asset management softwares need an extensive planning for master data management. Even a small inefficiency in master data may lead to an unusable application. These organizations would focus on defining asset registers, standard operating procedures based on OEM supplier's recommendations. An interesting trend here for Greenfield project situation could be integration with EPC systems which would help them in automatically populating Asset register, BOM, spare parts, SOPs etc from EPC software.

• Preventive Maintenance to start with - These organizations would focus on corrective & preventive maintenance practices to start with and should wait for integration with SCADA systems. Once their corrective & preventive maintenance work strategies are in place and system & users get maturity, they should plan for to move the Predictive maintenance.

•  Mobility Solutions - Mobile solutions are no longer considered an advanced technology in today's scenario. In order to have an effective & efficient usage of asset management application, companies should look for implementing mobile solutions in the initial phases of implementation. Usage of mobile solution would increase the acceptability of asset management applications among field users.

Emerging markets certainly have most of the Matured Markets' requirements (except for consolidation & upgrade) as well but not in next few years. Emerging market initially would need to have basic software usage in place and then look for attaining next level of asset management maturity but certainly these markets would less time to reach the next maturity level as compared to time taken by matured market.

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