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Transforming the EWM change mindset: From complexity to simplicity

Managing a warehouse and the associated supply chain is like managing a row of dominoes; if the individual pieces are not aligned, it disrupts the sequence. All it takes is one process within the system to be delayed, and havoc will ensue.

Extended Warehouse Management (EWM) from SAP has been an integral tool for ensuring the processes throughout a warehouse runs smoothly. It connects everything together from stockkeeping to packing to delivery so that everything can run on time – but there are many moving parts and dependencies.

The challenges of EWM

When it comes to warehouse management, the challenges and opportunities facing each organization are entirely unique. Everything from storage sizes and processes need to be clearly defined, so EWM has to be highly customizable. High levels of customization inevitably come with risk, since new updates and support packages from SAP may be incompatible with some parts of the system.

EWM’s integration complexity adds an extra level of risk. Systems are usually interconnected and highly dependent on integrations with other products like Transport Management, Logistics Systems and Finance for instance. EWM needs to know information on transport orders, incoming and outgoing deliveries, the number plates of truck and trailer combinations, invoicing, and a whole lot more, so it has to engage with other systems regularly. When it comes to changing or updating such an interdependent system, should anything go wrong, the butterfly effect it could have on other systems within the enterprise is cause for caution.

Stuck between a rock and a hard place

Enterprises are left with two options, both of which are unfavourable: either make changes to your system and expose it to risk, or don’t make any changes to your system and miss out on digital transformation, putting your enterprise one step behind the competition. It is worth considering the business-critical impacts of both:

  • Delay change or avoid it altogether

You may decide to stick with your current system due to the fear of change. This is more than understandable given the consequences of anything going wrong, but the problem with just sticking to the status quo is that it quickly becomes untenable. Firstly, you’ve lost your chance to gain a competitive advantage through early digital transformation. Secondly, you then have to play catch up, which costs time and money. Finally, your system will be prone to breaking anyway – the one thing you were trying to avoid – as it will be too old to update or support.

  • Go ahead with change without visibility

Alternatively, you could proceed without any visibility of impact. There are obvious problems here, especially when it comes to EWM. If you have to maintain a chain of temperature (like with frozen goods or flowers, for example), are you prepared to throw away a lot of stock should the change go wrong? If you have time-sensitive deliveries to make in the lead up to events like Christmas or Easter, can your enterprise withstand a warehouse shutdown? Can you afford the fines incurred when breaching SLAs for late delivery?

Both option one and option two are clearly far from ideal. Fortunately, there is a third option.

There is another way

The usual process of making a change goes as follows:

  • A business requirement is identified
  • A developer will take a look and analyze the code
  • They will work on a development system before handing over to a tester
  • They will then test everything to ensure the change doesn’t break anything once it goes live
  • The change is then deployed and (hopefully) everything works

Now, imagine the developer having the ability to understand whether the change they’ve created will influence any other part of the system, avoiding any issues from the very start. The QA manager then gains visibility into which EWM processes will be affected. Change without visibility is eradicated and you no longer need to keep your fingers crossed when deploying change. Supply chain transformation is now possible at speed with total confidence.

That is the power of ActiveDiscover

Through ActiveDiscover and its EWM extension, you can make more informed, data-driven decisions when it comes to change management within EWM. Through greater visibility via predictive analytics, you can understand the impact of change before it happens, ensuring a more robust supply chain with greater operational resilience.

With real-time insights, you can ensure continuous improvement without compromising your business continuity. Most importantly, you can eliminate risk that hampers warehouse operations.

Embrace change today with ActiveDiscover.

Make your move to get deeper insights into EWM and speak to one of our SAP experts today.

In the meantime, go further and read our EWM briefing.

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