As a purchaser life can get pretty repetitive and boring just staring at reports all day and in less than two weeks that is all going to change. On November 20th we begin our training with Lanham for Demand Planning (AFP). It has been a long road, with many headaches, to get here.
When I started in our purchasing department almost a year and a half ago I believed that all you did was order when someone said to. Little did I know how much work really went it ordering. In my first week I learned about SKU (Stock Keeping Units) and how we set\use them. By week two I was beginning to create purchase orders using the suggestions of sales. Than just when I thought I had a hang of all of this and thought "Oh they really make more out of this job than it is" I was handed a task that at the time I thought would be my demise, requisition worksheets. I looked at by boss and said sure no problem but in reality, I just kept thinking “Are they trying to get me to quit?”. Here I was a month in and I was not only expected to do the job they had been doing for years but learn an entire new procedure, with almost no training as no one really knew how it worked.
I sat down and ran the first report and printed it. I just heard the printer just keep going and going and thought when will it stop, the answer 44 pages later. As I sat at my desk looking and trying to process what was in front of me I convinced myself that they really were trying to get me to quit and honestly, I thought about it. Than one night I picked up my not even one-year old daughter from daycare and I realized this was nothing. If I found the strength to come back to work shortly after becoming a parent this report was nothing. The next day I came in and just buried myself in it and tried to make sense of it. Problem was I still couldn’t make sense of what Nav wanted to do or why. It was than suggested that I go onto Microsoft's website and see if there were any webinars I could watch. Thankfully there were. After spending about a half day listening and reviewing I realized that the way we had been setting SKU’s for the past decade was so different than the way we needed to set them to have the requisition worksheets work the way we wanted. I was now presented with the task of talking not just to my boss but his boss. As a company we were very set in our ways. Despite being with the company for close to 8 years here I was someone with only warehouse experience telling an experienced purchasing manager how things worked. The initial conversation didn’t go as bad as I thought yet it could have went better. We did not agree as to how things worked but I was given the freedom to adjust things as needed knowing that if it was wrong I would never live it down.
I explained to my co-worker and boss how I wanted to reset the SKU’s. I was hit with a little bit of resistance, but I kept reassuring them this is what needed to happen. Knowing that this would take months to “clean-up” the cards we decided as a group/department we were doing this. Slowly a worked my way item by item, line by line though 44 pages. Knowing this was only one vendor I felt accomplished. The next time I ran this vendor report it was 42 pages, with over 25 lines per page I had managed to decrease by 50ish lines. Over the next several months I worked on our 3 main vendors and managed to decrease the review time from a month each to a week each. I had now proved that we were moving in the right direction. Once again I settled in, knowing things were coming together when I was hit with what seemed like an even bigger challenge. Add 4 more vendors and complete them ALL in a week. With some push from a few others I decided I would either make this work or I would go down in a blaze of glory trying. I set my phone to away and my co-workers handled all the emails. Believe it or not I did it. Over the past 6 months I have added an additional 4 vendors to my review. I am now completing 11 vendors in less than a week leaving me time to help with other reports and projects.
As you can see, getting to a point where Demand Planning was possible was not easy. We spent a year working, pushing and crying to get here. I still cannot wrap my head around how far we have come in a mere 18 months. This is an accomplishment that is shared between multiple people and multiple departments and we cannot wait to see what the next year and what Demand Planning has in store for us. I look forward to sharing our future accomplishments as the preview already has us all excited.