Integrating Advanced Planning and Scheduling Software (Part 1)
You’ve just purchased, or are about to purchase production scheduling, production planning, or Advanced Planning and Scheduling software. How should you go about integrating your new software with existing data bases and legacy software applications?
Rely on Your Vendor for an Initial Data Plan
As part of the sales process, your planning and scheduling software vendor should have worked with you to create a demonstration model using samples of your data. The vendor should have used this sample model to show how you would use the planning and scheduling software to reach your goals. As your vendor puts together the demonstration model, he or she should have become familiar enough with your organization’s data to create a Data Plan for you.
The Data Plan will show data flows into and out of the planning and scheduling software. Most often, there will be two categories of flows into the software, data typed in manually, and data transferred electronically through an interface. This post concentrates on data transferred electronically, which will typically be data that either changes frequently, and / or data the software needs in large volumes.
Get Your Information Systems Group Involved
Your Advanced Planning and Scheduling vendor wants you to be successful with their software. If your organization doesn’t have the information systems resources available to manage the electronic transfer of information, most vendors will create the interfaces for you.
However, even if the vendor executes the transfer, your information systems group’s help can still be very valuable. Regardless of who develops the interface, they will need knowledge of how your data files are structured and where particular data elements are located. While a vendor building the interface can usually figure out what they need to know, guidance from your information systems group can ensure the vendors can find necessary data most rapidly and efficiently.
Since the help of your Information Systems Group is important regardless of who builds the interface, get them involved relatively early in the process. First, they will appreciate your advising them of the project and their potential role in it so that they can plan appropriately. Second, their insight into data availability can help your vendor as the vendor builds the demo model and creates the Data Plan.
In the next post, look for more advice on integrating planning and scheduling software.