IT Project Management Insights 1
Implementation and roll-out of an Infor DP/RP planning system
Kuno Consulting were engaged to manage the IT aspects of a new installation for an Infor DP/RP (demand planning and replenishment planning) system for a large Pharma multinational. The implementation involved assessment of required hardware and supporting infrastructure for the system, an integration platform for bi-directional interfacing of data with over 50 legacy source systems, alignment with a central Master Data Management system and building a team to implement and support the system. The entire process was managed in parallel with a team of Supply Chain Management consultants.
The system was installed on a Windows server with an SQL database and with user access through Citrix. Besides a robust back-up process, a hot disaster recovery system was installed at a separate location with Zerto software for replication between the primary and DR server.
Due to the limited expected life-span of the system of approximately 5 year, the integration process with about 50 source systems required low investment and had to offer flexible and easy roll-out. The data import process was done through manual loading of planning information collected by business users from the legacy systems into centrally stored CSV templates. The formatting of these CSV templates was protected to ensure consistency. The data transfer and conversion process into the Infor system was performed by Biztalk middleware. In addition to processing the planning information from CSV files, the middleware had an automatic integration with the central MDM system to retrieve global item and vendor numbers and convert these based on values in the source data. The middleware team also provided a portal to capture incomplete or incorrect data to ensure on-time processing of data across the 50 source systems.
The pilot implementation for three sites was chosen to be for a group of companies and business users with extensive experience of implementing software systems. Major emphasise was placed on managing master data in the source system as well as the MDM system, as this would prove to be crucial for correct and timely processing of the planning information. Project teams collaborated from multiple locations across Europe.
The team opted for a technical go-live in which the system and its interfaces were used in a production situation but alongside the legacy planning system for a period of three months. This gave the business and IT time to address issues in the integration process, Infor system as well as master data. The latter proved to be most complex and critical. The Kuno team also used this period to establish a Business As Usual support process. This was based on a strict Software Development Life Cycle methodology and the companies ServiceNow system to manage issues and changes. The various team members collaborated from multiple locations using the Virtual Office tools (Sharepoint, Skype conferencing and ServiceNow) typically used by Kuno Consulting.
The business, SCM and IT teams worked tirelessly for months to provide a stable platform to roll out the system to the 50 entities across the globe. Despite its ‘simple’ integration platform, the system has proven to be highly dependable and has so far continued to service the company successfully well beyond its expected life-span.
Critical for its successful implementation were a strong focus on master data, end-to-end ownership of the interfaces by a team of IT/process experts, and lastly a very effective support process to address business as well as IT issues.