For this second post in the interview series, we caught up with Paul Klein and gained some insight on an entirely different type of integration. In this situation, the customer had an extended roll-out to multiple sites.
Can you share some information about a larger implementation you worked on this past year?
“Sure. Firestone Building Products is a good example as they had eleven plants using different systems and wanted to unify them on a central platform. They started their implementation in early 2012, and phased in their implementation to all eleven plants over a one year span. “
What strategies did you employ that were unique to an implementation of this magnitude?
“First off, we ensured that the project had both a Project Manager and Technical Lead. Chris Frayer, the Project Manager, established the timetable and ensured the project remained on track. The Technical Resource, Terry Gurley, became a very active participant from the beginning. This type of resource, with such strong knowledge of their business process and internal systems, was integral to keeping the project moving forward. We also deployed a phased approach, starting with a smaller plant and working our way up to the largest. This proved to be quite helpful in getting everything important in place prior to the larger roll-out.”
Did they phase in functionality as well?
“Not really. They pretty much rolled out full functionality including Work Order Process, PM Management, and Inventory Control at each site. The only exception was the parts integration to their Tiny Term system. They implemented a system integration that exports part usage and reconciles on-hand quantity; this was not in place until some of the smaller plants had gone live.”
What were some efficiency measures put in place to keep a project of this size on budget and on-time?
“To allow us to roll-out more expediently, we ran training sessions at multiple sites simultaneously. While I was holding a training session at one plant, Terry Gurley would be onsite at another, using desktop sharing software to allow participants to follow along. Having Terry onsite and available for questions made this approach especially effective and proved to be both time-saving and cost effective .”
Did you come across any difficulties or special challenges?
“The Building Products Division was set up in a single database with each plant established as a separate Repair Center. This allowed them to use repair center access restrictions to ensure that each user only saw data applicable to their plant. However, once parts were integrated, they realized they wanted the ability to see if out-of-stock parts were available from another plant. With the repair center restrictions in place, they didn’t have access to this data. To solve this, they set up a special user account that had access to all repair centers, but could only see parts data. Staff in the stock rooms use this special login to take a peek at stock room inventory at other sites.”
Were there economies of scale with each plant go-live?
“Once the basic structure and process were defined, it was much easier to phase in additional plants. In fact, as Terry continued to gain expertise, he was able to independently handle much of the data importing, allowing me to focus more on the training aspect of the go-live. We brought up the first plant in Beech Grove, Indiana in June of 2012 with a handful of technicians. By the time we rolled-out at their largest plant in Prescott, Arkansas in April of this year, we had a pretty smooth process and were ready for the 70 folks in attendance. All in all, it was a very successful implementation.”