Change Control – Stabilizing Information systems

The 4th industrial age has made information readily available, we only have to cast our minds back over the last month to see how quickly news circulated about the political changes in South Africa. Also, very noticeable is the power this news has in the public environment. Again on Monday, the Listeria contamination announcement had a negative impact on a major food company’s share price, causing it to fall significantly. We can harness the power of this information and use it to our benefit by streamlining information systems and communication within our organizations and also with our customers and suppliers.

IT diagramOne of the major sources of conflict in a business is reporting of information, very often different departments will report the same supposed information in very different ways, primarily because this information is extracted from different sources. The function of enterprise resource systems to provide a single dynamic source for information that can be used across the business to operate efficiently and effectively, and also to report from a common source. The secret to a successful ERS is to ensure that it is set up correctly, so that it provides a stable platform that can be relied upon.

A formal Change control process is necessary to ensure that only approved changes are made, and only by approved personnel. This control is as important as the documentation control process that supports your quality management system. An erratic change to the system can lead to any number of errors that manifest themselves at random points throughout the supply chain. An example is the incorrect lead time in a process step can lead to late deliveries to customers and therefore poor customer service. On the other hand, too tight a control can lead to product not getting out of the door to customers.

As supply Chain practitioners, we need to ensure that all settings are logical and consistent with the physical processes in the business. Every process should be clearly mapped for both product and information flows, and should be reviewed periodically. The process maps will clearly show the routings the product must follow, the time spent in each work centre and the waiting time in buffers as well as manning structures. These are all key elements in determining an accurate product cost and production and supply chain lead times.

Time spent ensuring accuracy, consistency and logic of information prior to populating the ERS is your insurance against disasters during the running of your business. Every product routing and item Master should be documented and tested before going live.

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