Operations Manager Alan Walker has been part of the Fitfactory family for one year now. We caught up with him to learn how he is leading his team to achieve the perfect MRP Implementation.
Tell us a bit about yourself
My name’s Alan Walker. I’m operations manager at Fitfactory, so my role encompasses; services, support, HR and managing several people within those functions. The background of my career was originally spent in finance. I then spent some time in HR and payroll. I’ve spent a lot of time in project management, as well as corporate business-to-business vehicle leasing.
In terms of bringing things to this roll, it’s predominantly the project management element of things and people leadership.
What do you enjoy about working with Fitfactory?
One of the things I enjoy is the breadth of our products and how many things we’re developing. I think there’s a lot that we’re looking to the future on and we’re producing quite disruptive products in terms of collaborative supply chain networks, as well as internal connected apps, which will give our customers useful information on their business and how they’re operating.
As a people-focused person, I also enjoy the team spirit that we’ve generated within the business, the launch of well-being programmes, and the togetherness we show in supporting each other.
Externally, I think we’ve built really good embedded long-term customer relationships across a wide variety of products, so it’s great to be dealing with those customers over a long period of time and building those networks with our customers so we have a very personal approach to them.
What is involved in ‘the perfect implementation’?
The ‘perfect implementation’ is still something we strive to achieve, so first it’s great to hear that so many of our customers have gone through great journeys, and I’ve seen some of that through the feedback we get from our customers.
One of the things I find that’s important is having the mix of the correct stakeholders, both on our side and on the customer side. From the customer, having the purchasing party and end users involved in the process from early on, so they know the product they’re receiving is going to deliver the value and the solution they’re looking for.
It’s also key that we get the right people from our side involved, so we’ll always have an assigned implementation consultant, a point of support, as well as an escalation group, should anything need to be escalated or if there’s any extra support needed. It’s vital we have that on our side, so that they can be managed, but also from the customer side, so there’s a project sponsor involved as well.
From a knowledge point of view, we’ll always have a very knowledgeable consultant, who’s a product expert, on our side. So, whether it be an ERP, MRP or one of our apps that’s being implemented, there will always be someone who is knowledgeable in that field, and who can give the customer advice and take them through the best journey.
What advice would you give to companies looking at an MRP implementation?
There’s no doubt that changing an ERP or MRP system is a big decision and a big task. If you can bear that in mind and be prepared for that, then you’ve won half the battle. One of the key things I would say is to keep in mind why you’re doing this. You must have goals that you’re looking to achieve, and you must have reasons why you’re moving away from what you’re currently doing. Bearing that in mind will stand you in good stead for the project and will deliver the focus that you’re looking for.
The next thing I would say is to build strong relationships with your implementation consultant. Our consultants are always happy to help in terms of offering advice and being there to answer any support queries.
Also, having an open mind as to what you’re looking for from the product. We’ve undertaken several implementations where we’ll undertake developments for the right reason.
One of the final things I’d say is to keep your eye on change management, ensuring you’re taking the people internally on that journey with you. So that there are no surprises or concerns that those key end users are going to have. I’d encourage those people to be part of that journey and ensure that when you get to the finish line of the project, all of your key internal stakeholders are happy with where you’ve got to, and you’re then ready to move into support and move forward with the solution at that point.
How have you streamlined internal operations at Fitfactory?
We looked at certain areas and made improvements. For example, with our services processes, we’ve unearthed some efficiencies we could make, and we’ve put those into action.
We’ve also looked at our employee well-being by launching things like Fitclub, creating an engaging platform, which also does good for charities, where we can raise money as a team.
In terms of the streamlining we’ve had to do, one of the things that did present a problem was points of dependency on certain people. We uncovered that there were certain people who were product experts on certain products. Therefore, what we’ve done is undertake a cross-training programme, where we’ve lifted out their expertise and we’ve been able to share that across the organisation. This has given us more continuity of service to all of our existing customers and more flexibility in terms of who can deliver that work to our customers.
What is your favourite Fitfactory product?
There are several products that I really enjoy using within Fitfactory and that I really enjoy seeing our customers get value out of.
One of these is iQluster, which I see a a disruptive product that we’re launching to the market, where customers can collaborate and see benefit when working with each other, so that for me is powerful.
There’s also CRM, which for me personally overseeing operations within Fitfactory, having the ability to record-keep internally and track things like opportunities is hugely valuable.
However, for me the most powerful product I see is Insights. It gives a fantastic and valuable view to any business owner, particularly in manufacturing and engineering, for them to see the performance of their organisation from one place. Its cloud based, they’re able to see performance within their finance team and their shopfloor. So for me that’s the product which I find the best to push with our customers because the way it’s perceived by our customers is always positive.
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