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Why are the supply chain automation projects failing and what to do in order to prevent it?

Any form of business runs the risk of failure, what we do differently, however, is that we do not silence these errors, but talk about them instead, says Tatyana Bogdan, the marketing director at LLC Sluno Ukraine. During her talk at the 21st “Den Logistiky” conference in Ukraine, she spoke about how each setback can open up opportunities for further growth and success.

The Components of a Project, and their Disfunction

The projects I have come across, all experienced problems related to the absence or malfunction of one of the following project components,” says Tatyana Bogdan.

Vision - a view of the bigger picture, including, above all, each of the project’s phases and an idea of what the final product should look like. Tatyana points out that: “At first, building up a sort of ‘vision’ was difficult, however, eventually, I learned to think of projects in their entirety, and therefore even in terms of their final products.”

Strategy - that is able to produce results that fulfill the target criteria. A strategy is no good on its own, however, processes are also necessary. Once you have mastered the ability to select appropriate strategies and manage processes, you can then design “flawless” projects.

I studied in the EU as well as the USA, and I probably gained the most experience while working at a Walmart warehouse, where I had the chance to see employees operating a number of different technologies,” Tatyana  Bohdan shares her experience. “The Walmart warehouse held a hundred thousand items, with an error percentage of 0,1 %. We were then taken to a fully automated warehouse, where very few people worked, but its operations reminded me of Tetris. The robot collected a package, and we watched closely to see where it would be placed. Some of the most common household items were placed onto a pallet, according to specific criteria. How is this possible? Information, and master data. Without these two things, system projects are bound to fail.”

Another component is the correct timing for a project. The word “time” can be interpreted very differently for each individual project. If, for example, a project requires the management of warehouse operations, and an understanding of the system’s current load, and the client’s and supplier’s demands are also necessary, then “time” is a very important factor, and it is very important to learn to work with it.

How time works in the setting of a project, is something I best understood in Israel,” Tatyana says. “This is because that is where I studied the inner workings of so-called ‘fresh chains,’ or chains, which deliver fresh products. Once you see how milk is delivered from its suppliers, to the shelves of a supermarket in 40 degree heat, you come to understand what steps must be taken in terms of logistics, storage, and supply management, in order for everything to work without issues.”

Finance - this is a project component that does not need much introduction or explanation, we are all well aware of the purpose of money here.

Risks - all projects carry their own risks. Tatyana Bogdan shares her own experiences: “I was in constant search of an answer for the question of how to work with risks in projects. I was extremely lucky to have gotten the opportunity to take part in a gathering at a logistics association in Japan. I asked the question: ‘what is the most important consideration for the operation of logistics in your country?’ My Japanese colleagues presented me with three, two of which were very applicable for Ukrainian logistics as well-these concerned finances, the cost of logistics, and human resources. The third consideration was, however, surprising, as it was the operation of logistics in the case of a ‘force majeure.” Tatyana was in Japan during the year of 2013, during which Japan experienced the Fukushima nuclear reactor accident, leading to the country developing measures, that would allow it to operate even under unforeseen circumstances.

We do not often prepare plans for unexpected conditions in Ukraine,” remarks Tatyana, “however, in consideration of the personnel, and the protection of human life, they are something we should develop- unconditionally. Imagine, that you are installing a new warehouse system, and a hacker strikes at that moment - what would you do? It is critical to have a plan.”

Human resources are another very important item, that does not need much explanation. And finally, the last component – Tatyana simply puts in a question mark. After all, every company has that "something extra" which will always contribute to the success of the project.

How to get a project out of a problematic phase?

Tatyana draws a pyramid to visualize a “safety net” that can be used to gradually pull a project out a difficult stage.

First Level - surroundings, and the result, we want to achieve.

Second level - how we want to achieve it.

Third level - the competence necessary to realize the outcome.

Fourth level - the values contained in the project.

Fifth level - tasks.

Sixth level - this level is the most important one, and so Tatyana chooses to explain it in more detail. “Often, a project is successfully coming along, the group in charge is cooperating, the process is slowly coming to its end, and it seems that everything is going fine. The project is then completed, and a wave of stress suddenly comes over the group, everything is finished, so, what now? What if no project is going to follow this one? Finding a way to deal with this stress- that is the value we are looking for here,” she says.

How can we define the extent of a project’s success? Tatyana Bogdan describes her vision as follows: “The investor needs to be satisfied - the people that funded the project need to be given the guarantee of a return on their investment. Other than that, the client and the ones executing the project must also be satisfied. Finally, everyone, even the most remotely involved employee, must be satisfied.”

Tatyana suggests, that project leaders use the following scale of 1-10:

She says that if you are feeling a 10, and you are able to take control of all areas, applying the pyramid to each of them, then in your case, every level of the pyramid will be taking care of the problems of the level below them. Once you are able to find a value, then you can descend down the pyramid, and perhaps troubleshoot issues.

Either way, the key to your success is reaching a point, where you can confidently give yourself a 10,” Tatyana continues. “If your guts are telling you that it is a 5, then you should re-think, whether or not the project is really worth it. If your confidence is somewhere between a 5, and a 10, then ask yourself: ‘what am I missing here? What would I need to make this a 10?’”

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Source: https://trademaster.ua/articles/313005

12. 6. 2019

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