It was a sweltering summer day. I had big plans for riding my horse with friends which involved loading my young horse, Smoke, into a horse trailer for the first time and then driving two hours north to the mountains. I knew that once we arrived at our cool and shady destination, my horse would be quite happy. But Smoke was unconvinced of my plan – he just would not go into that dark trailer. And because he weighed 1200 pounds, I personally could not make him go into the trailer unless he wanted to go – or at least not without somebody getting hurt.
In my mind, this scenario is a lot like getting a procurement group to go along with a new Supply Chain Data Governance implementation. You know that if they cooperate, invest weeks of their time in meetings, training, helping to set up the new process and do master data cleansing, then the procurement department will run more economically and efficiently in the long run. But most teams won’t go forth willingly with a plan unless they absolutely want to. And if you try force them -- well, someone’s career is bound to get damaged in the process.
So, what’s the trick to getting horses and people to do new things? You should plan on taking small steps forward and letting them have some control over the process. I have witnessed this effective implementation style in my tenure as a board member and consultant with ECCMA.org, a not-for-profit association dedicated to improving Data Quality through implementing international standards.
What ECCMA has understood from the beginning is that Data Cataloging and Supply Chain Governance is a collaborative effort that takes place over a period of time. It is not merely a software installation with training, but rather a continuous improvement process. ECCMA believes that the business should progress forward in a series of small conquests and ROI victories that make sense from the business’ perspective – not necessarily at the behest of IT applying pressure to fully complete an implementation by a certain arbitrarily imposed date.
ECCMA’s eMDV (Master Data Validator) is a powerful, yet easy to use tool that ties together in one interface the materials, suppliers, and inventory from across a company’s often rugged sprawling landscape of disparate ERP systems. The eMDV is built around ISO 8000 standards and enables the generation of ISO 22745 compliant descriptions of materials and services. These detailed standardize descriptions help the business understand exactly what they are buying and stocking. ECCMA understands that if you don’t have a systematic process for describing materials and identifying suppliers, you simply cannot have confidence that you are buying at the best prices, and you also cannot know if you are carrying too much or too little of those products in your stockrooms.
Here’s the simple truth - most manufacturers and suppliers really don’t want you to be able to compare their products and pricing with others. They play a game of making their products seem so different and valuable that you cannot easily compare them. Ever try to do comparison shopping for mattresses or car tires? Figuring out what is an equivalent or comparable alternative product simply by reading the manufacturers’ literature is virtually impossible! So, unless you have a good systematic process such as the eMDV for easily describing and comparing materials, you are likely buying similar product from different places at widely varying prices. You are not able to optimize your inventory or MRO spending.
The eMDV has a solid process for describing and identifying and materials which fits easily into the day-to-day activities of the procurement activities of the business. By focusing first on what areas of savings make the most sense to the business, they are then incentivized to search for, cleanse and rationalize those materials which results in the most immediate economic benefit to a particular area of the business. Since the eMDV is so easy to implement and use, small gains can be realized quickly, and those ROIs become the positive rewards that give the incentive (and budgetary approvals) to lasso more improvement efforts. Some of these ROI wins may include:
- Corralling spend for a particular product or group of products into to one high volume contract
- Easily communicating what is the preferred supplier/materials to curtail maverick spending
- Reducing cash outlays by identifying and transferring slow moving or “dead stock” from one warehouse to another plant /warehouse that desperately needs those materials.
So instead of forcing an entire enterprise into an uncomfortable place with a large upfront investment at risk, encourage the business to take small steps paved with good predictable ROI’s on their journey. Once the business has experienced success (without the brow-beating and pressure of the typical IT all-or-nothing implementation model) the business will move forward as a willing partner, eager to find new opportunities to save money on procurement spending and inventory carrying cost.
Contact ECCMA today for more information and a free demo of the ECCMA eMDV.