Planning isn’t about maintaining certain inventory levels. It’s about managing supply so that it meets demand. You do this by creating three plans: a demand plan, a production plan to meet that demand, and a procurement plan to enable the production plan.
To manage these plans well with APS, your company needs to become skilled at the seven activities shown in the APS Framework below.
The first is aligning your business processes and policies. But what does that mean? What are you supposed to align them with? What are you aligning them to do?
You are aligning your processes, procedures, and policies so they all work together to help you reach the same goal. It’s like six people in a canoe. You don’t want each one paddling toward a different destination. That’s chaos. You want them all working together to get you to the same spot.
APS is one of the rowers in your canoe. Furthermore, APS is built to help you reach one key goal and do it in a specific way. That goal is to ship on time in as much of a JIT manner as is possible. If you want to reach that goal in that manner, APS will help you. If you don’t want to reach that goal, then, for heaven’s sake, don’t put APS into the boat. It will only paddle against you. Get something else that’s designed to help you get to where you actually want to go.
Likewise, your various policies and processes are the other rowers in the canoe. Are they actually helping you get that canoe to the right destination? Or are they working against you? If they’re working against you, get them out of the boat and replace them with policies and procedures that work toward the same goal.
Every site that is managing demand and supply successfully with APS has had to get good at continuously improving their business processes and policies so they all work together to reach the same goal.
The second thing you need to get good at is modeling what’s going on at the site for planning purposes. This means you need to get good at keeping inventory, BOM, and resource information accurate. Do you have policies in these areas that work against you? If so, change them.
The third thing you need to get good at is making promises to customers. Do you only promise what you’re confident you can do? Or do you make promises without much regard to what your shop floor can output? Look at your processes and policies in this area and make sure they’re working with you.
The fourth, fifth, and sixth things are: running APS, releasing and managing supply, and looking for trouble. Trouble when managing supply and demand is when it appears you won’t provide supply when you promised you would. Again, do you have any policies or procedures here that work against you? If so, get them out of that canoe.
The final activity you need to get good at is assessing your performance in all the other areas. You need to identify one or two key performance indicators in the other areas that will allow you to assess how well you’re reaching your goal. If you don’t measure, you can’t get better. Here are some examples of such measures:
Your goal is to improve those KPIs over time. As you do that, you will get better and better at managing demand and supply, and becoming the kind of company your customers love to do business with.
If you’re new to APS and would like to learn the core principles of each activity, take the official Using Advanced Planning and Scheduling course. It’s taught in a self-directed video (US, non-US) and instructor-assisted format (US, non-US).
If you already have a good handle on APS and would like advanced training on the seven activities, consider attending Infor TechEd for CloudSuite Industrials and Distribution SX.e in St. Paul. This year’s sessions include:
- Using Advanced Forecasting (entering demand)
- APS planning parameters boot camp (modeling the site)
- Tracking and improving your KPIs for planning (assessing performance)
- Figuring out why an order is late (looking for trouble)
Find the detailed descriptions of the TechEd sessions here.
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