Training for Advanced Planning and Scheduling Software (Part 1)

This post discusses staff training options for employees involved in the implementation of Advanced Planning and Scheduling (APS) software. Some of the training discussed is identical to the type of training you might have provided when implementing other kinds of manufacturing software (e.g. ERP). Other training discussed is unique to APS software.

Overview Training Concentrating on Software Benefits and Software Output

The implementation and use of Advanced Planning and Scheduling software requires the involvement and assistance of many different individuals in many different company departments. Depending upon your organization’s goals, staff from the following departments may be involved: sales, customer service, project management, quoting, engineering, production and inventory control, scheduling, expediting, planning, quality control, operations, maintenance, shipping and receiving.

In order to secure buy-in and support, it is important that all involved have a clear picture of your organization’s goals for the planning and scheduling project, how the software will help you reach those goals, and how the software will benefit them.

Detailed Training Review of Demo Model

Elsewhere on this site, we advocate working with your vendor prior to the sale to build and demonstrate a sample production scheduling model. The model and demonstration should reflect your manufacturing environment and include samples of your data. Time probably has passed between the delivery of that demonstration and the point in time at which your organization is ready to begin implementing planning and scheduling software. A detailed training review of the software will serve as a valuable and necessary refresher.

Also, your pre-sales demonstration should have been concise and to the point. It should have concentrated only on those features that you and the vendor agreed would help you meet your goals. However, most advanced production scheduling systems have a wide range of features. Now is the time for your software consultant to expose you to additional features. He or she should review features which, while not of the utmost importance, may be able to add significant value to your organization.

Detailed Training on Providing Data to the Software

After your vendor reviews software benefits and feature, he or she will help you build a production and scheduling model for ongoing use. A key decision in any scheduling software implementation is determining exactly how you to provide data to the model on an ongoing basis. In some cases, you will manually enter into the software static data that doesn’t change often. An example of this kind of data may be shop floor machines and work centers. Other data that changes frequently (for example inventory balances or production reporting data), you probably will transfer electronically to the planning and scheduling system through an interface.

Once the decision is made on how data is to be provided to the advanced planning and scheduling software, your vendor needs to train you on how to manually enter the data into the system and how to execute interfaces to supply the system with data electronically. Interfaces usually are designed with error checking routines to prevent “bad” data from being passed to the software. Therefore, the training should also help you understand how to perform preliminary debugging of any interface errors generated.

Training on Model Loaded with Production Data

Once the Advanced Planning and Scheduling software is loaded with data, a scheduling approach refined, and the output of the model validated, planning and scheduling staff are ready for intensive training. Your company’s actual scheduling model should be used for all training. The training should include: schedule generation via automatic and manual means, navigation through various software menus, analysis of schedules including problem identification, report generation and modification.

Look for more training options in the next post.