6 tips for running successful remote warehouse optimisation reviews

Feb 28, 2021
  • operations
  • automotive
  • chemicals
  • SAP

Running virtual workshops is not a new concept for many organisations and certainly nothing new for Delaware. However, the frequency of and the overall reliance on this approach certainly has increased as a result of recent events. Organisations are finding that it’s not that easy just to ‘pop down to site’. So what tools and techniques do we have to support the delivery of remote workshops?

The proposition

At Delaware we have developed a number of logistics questionnaires that are designed to gather facts and ideas about a customer’s facilities. These have proved to be very powerful in getting as much detailed information from sites even before we start with any pre-engagement activities. These questionnaires are not just limited to supply chain management; we have extended this to cover finance and operations and enterprise asset management (EAM).

Our experience and learnings

The workshops themselves can be fraught with many potential issues, from language barriers through to the inability to see if anyone looks confused or have not understood the point.

Below, we describe some of the challenges that we have faced and how we have overcome them with our remote workshops approach and capability.

Challenge #1 ‘Day in the Life’

An extremely important factor that cannot be overlooked and should be a prerequisite before running any virtual workshop is asking the business to provide an overview of their operations on a typical day. These help to build a solid understanding of the current business, any current solutions, and helps to lay the foundations for the following workshops. These can vary from a walkthrough by the client using their current system through to a process walkthrough using business processes flows – typically both would be recommended. There is no right or wrong in terms of how these are run, just that they are run in some form and supported by the “right” business representative(s). 

Challenge #2 Keeping people engaged

A tip that we have found to help ensure people are engaged with the conversation or topic is to go around the room and ask each person individually if they have any questions at convenient points during the workshop. This seems simple and obvious but it adds an extra layer of engagement to proceedings and helps to build a good affinity between the participants. In some of our large workshops we found a number of people wouldn’t speak up particularly in front of large audiences and some important points were not captured. This method really encourages full participation and improves the speed at which people learn.

Challenge #3 Effective use of video recordings

Maps and layouts, whilst very useful, only tell one part of the story, so wherever possible we have encouraged sites or facilities to record a video of the operation, particularly if this can be linked to a typical day in the life scenario. It brings context and ‘feel’ to proceedings that a diagram cannot.

Challenge #4 Delivering engaging system demos

This provides a powerful foundation to all workshops especially virtual ones. It supplements the message and helps remove any confusion. We provide demos across a variety of module areas, for a large range of scenarios and these can all be delivered remotely.

Challenge #5 Finding tools to map the process

There are many products out there that can help with mapping a process, such as Microsoft Visio, and without the ability to ‘walk’ the facility these can help define the processes extremely well. Mapping the inbound, outbound and internal processes visually helps minimise any ambiguity and quite often draws out other integration points that are vitally important to understand. Leveraging our “Best Practice” templates also supports this approach.

Challenge #6 Improving virtual collaboration

There are a number of supporting products that help with virtual collaboration, for example the ‘whiteboard’ facility in Microsoft Teams to call out just one. Such tools can play a great role in allowing everyone’s idea to be ‘heard’ and can all be saved digitally. The use of collaboration tools around the area of “RAID” also helps to provide Scope Management, e.g. DevOps, Trello.

Is this the ’new normal’ for client workshops?

Looking to the future ‘virtual workshops’ may be the new normal, not just from a pandemic perspective but more of a practical one. It is conceivable that we will soon support the majority of  workshops with virtual or cross reality products allowing facilities to be mapped quickly and then simulated in the workshops themselves. Whatever the future holds we can be sure that workshops are likely to change dramatically from what we once knew of them to a more “hybrid” approach that helps deliver the quality output in the most efficient fashion, be that in time, environmental or from a resourcing standpoint.

An example - The Delaware Warehouse Process Optimisation Assessment

Our approach

The Warehouse Process Optimisation Assessment provides a detailed analysis of your current warehouse management system (WMS), people and processes to establish if you are leveraging the benefits of your current WMS and the extended digital supply chain. We’ll recommend next steps and areas of improvement in four core areas – people, process, technology and culture – aligned with industry best practices to help you either re-work your existing solution or transition to a best practice and optimised solution.

Our deliverables

On completion of this assessment, we will provide our recommendations for improvement, including the realised business benefits. We can also recommend a proposed delivery and deployment approach and develop an industry best practice operating model and system adoption roadmap, to ensure that the business change impacts of introducing new processes within the warehouse and production are clearly understood and documented. As discussed in this article, we can deliver the key workshops fully remotely, enabling you to continue your transformation programme during these uncertain times.

What value can you expect?

  • Leverage the benefits of the extended digital supply chain
  • Develop an industry best practice operating model
  • Define your system adoption roadmap, ensuring that the business change impacts of introducing new processes are fully understood
  • Realise the potential of an optimised SAP EWM solution

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