Welcome to the third and final installment of my blog series where I look back at my days as a purchaser utilizing Lanham Demand Planning with Microsoft Dynamics NAV. You can access part 1 here and part 2 here.
It had been 7 months since I wrote the previous blog and 8 months since our go live with Lanham Demand Planning and I cannot even begin to explain the amazing experience we had as a company during this time. First, I would like to take this opportunity to thank all those involved who allowed this dream to become a reality, including Lanham for the development, my IT manager who not only found Demand Planning but shared it with us as well, upper management for trusting the program and its employees to make it work and my co-workers who were willing to step out of their comfort zone and learn something completely different.
8 months prior, I was walking into work after finishing a 3-day long training session and a long weekend thinking how much I had learned and wondering how much I would remember. As I feared, I walked in, sat down at my computer and drew a complete blank. Thankfully my co-workers remembered the bits and pieces that I could not. Once they reminded me where I needed to start, I was up and running. I remember thinking on that first day how much I loved this new system. Little did I know what that love would turn into. As the days and weeks went by, I became more confident in what I was doing and was able to start completing each task more efficiently. Before I knew it, things that would normally take me a day and a half to complete were now taking a day or less. I felt on top of the world. Then I was given an even more amazing opportunity, I was asked to attend the Forecasting & Replenishment Forum in Scottsdale, Arizona. I was over the moon. Not only was I being asked to attend this, but I was going to Scottsdale. (When you’re from Ohio, any place west of the Mississippi is a treat.) I spent weeks thinking about what it was going to be like. Then the day before I was scheduled to leave, I started to have second thoughts. We’ve only been on this software for a few months, what did I really know and what could I bring to the forum other than just being a body in the room?
The entire flight there I kept psyching myself out that this was a bad idea and that I was going to let the company down. (This was a huge fear as this was the first time the company had granted me travel alone.) The next morning was go time. I headed down to breakfast and found the one person I knew. As more people filed into the hall for breakfast, I started to feel even more uncomfortable as I heard stories of the people who had used this software for years and seemed to know it pretty well. All I could think was, “Oh no I really am in over my head.” Just as I was ready to walk away, a gentleman sat down next to me. When he introduced himself, he explained that he was completely new; not just to Demand Planning, but NAV as well because he had only been with the company for a few weeks. I started to think, “Hmm, if this man is here with less experience than me, maybe I do have something to offer. Before we know it, it was time to head into the conference room and start. We started off by introducing ourselves and stating what we hoped to learn. As I listened to everyone, I realized that no matter what you know about this software and how long you are on it, it is a constantly evolving system where there is always something new to learn. As we dug deeper into the sessions, someone pointed out that we all come from very different businesses, but we all had one thing in common – we all wanted/needed better control of our inventory. Some were multimillion-dollar companies and others were more mom and pop shops. Either way, we could all learn from each other. Over the next 2.5 days, I heard the things that we were doing exactly right, the things we could improve on and most importantly, the things we weren’t doing but should have been. I took lots of notes. At the end of the forum I was sad that it was over and was excited to get back to work and share my experience and what I had learned. I used the flight home to type up my report to turn in upon my arrival, discussing everything that I had learned. I couldn’t wait to get back to work, maybe it was all that sun. Monday morning, I arrived at work and sent off my report with my notes for my manager, the IT manager and upper management. The following morning, it was time to meet. Not only were the notes good, there was already a plan to start making adjustments where necessary.
In the 2 months since I had returned, my co-workers and myself continued to find ways to improve. Some of the biggest game changers for us were usage redirect and sporadic rules. Usage redirect allows us to take an item that I shipped from one location and put the history into another location, thus allowing us to determine the best place to stock an item. Sporadic rules have probably had the biggest effect on our business. This allows us to define how we would like the system to weigh the usage of an item. As with most companies, we do not want to have inventory in our building that we do not feel will sell in a reasonable amount of time. By using sporadic rules, we have been able to get an even better understanding of our inventory level and how to plan accordingly.
Thinking back to where we were as company a year prior is amazing. We had an inventory level that was higher than we wanted and were struggling to get it down. We had reports that were taking days to complete and a stress level that was off the charts. We were feeling the pressure and saw no way out but were able to relieve all this stress with Lanham Demand Planning. Again, none of this would have been possible without the buy-in by so many people. Let’s see what the next year brings.
I hope you have found these resurrected blogs helpful. One of my favorite things about working with Innovia is that I now get to share my knowledge with even more people. If you have any questions please feel free to send me an email at firstname.lastname@example.org.