Last month I had the opportunity to experience a unique Go-live with a brand new Aerospace & Defense manufacturing client that needed a new Warehouse Management System (WMS). What made this experience remarkable is the fact that the entire process from project start to Go-live took only four weeks, which included the solution architecture, product configuration and implementation. The solution is now fully operational. I personally experienced these series of events, and yet I can’t even believe it actually occurred. So, naturally, I wanted to tell someone about it, and have elected to do so through this blog post.
This client is a new customer. Their manufacturing software implementation was brand new. It replaced a manual, paper and “manage by walk about” process, so no time was required to transition from a previous system. As I reflect back on the experience, there are three reasons why I feel this incredibly short implementation time frame was made possible, which I have outlined below:
- We were able to draw upon substantial A&D domain experience and product configuration re-use – in other words, we didn’t have to re-create the wheel with this implementation. Based on knowledge and experience that our team had with similar deployments, we were able to hit the ground running with no project ramp-up time.
- We leveraged an Agile implementation methodology, a concept that is used in software development, and extended it to manufacturing solution implementation. This concept leverages blueprinting, as described in Michal Piatkowski’s post: Can Blueprinting Take you to the Blue Lagoon? We held frequent review and process mapping improvement discussions with key stakeholders to streamline the implementation, which removed waste from the entire process.
- Active end user participation – it is obviously necessary to work with a client’s IT department when implementing a solution for manufacturing operations – all systems must interoperate, which requires collaboration. But this is not enough for an accelerated deployment. Active, engaged discussions with end users are critical if you want to accomplish a 4 week Go-live. We accomplished a heightened level of collaboration by holding regular meetings for 30 minutes every day for the entire 4 week deployment. This regular time commitment was a very important reason why the installation went so smoothly.
In the end, this incredibly short implementation time frame was accomplished by being nearly “perfect.” We didn’t make any big mistakes that cost us time, budget or resources. At the same time, I was able to leverage and draw upon a team with considerable knowledge and extensive experience implementing manufacturing software solutions. By starting with a great team and using a great template of what the final processes would be, this deployment was more a sequence of continuous process improvements instead of a “design from scratch” deployment. The reward: An implementation time frame that most will consider impossible. In fact, this might even be reflected upon as a “Black Swan” event, albeit a positive one. Of course, only time will tell. But, in the interim, it has been a very exciting experience!