Hypercare: Prepare for the Worst to Deliver the Best
When implementing large-scale supply chain solutions, especially at multiple sites, there are a multitude of success factors that create a successful Go-live. In my experience, initial system design and the practical steps for implementation of the new system take precedent. While these are important factors to overall success, a key component of a successful Go-live that is often overlooked is hypercare support. Hypercare can be a nebulous term.
Hypercare is the period time, immediately after the implementation, when supplemental support is given to ensure the successful transition of a facility to the new system. Hypercare support could include onsite SME support, development/configuration support, communications support, and even temporary on-site staff augmentation. Support resources can be in-person or remote. Hypercare can vary in terms of length of time, level of support, and organization. Because there is such a race to accomplish pre-go-live activities, it is easy to be unprepared for what you may experience in hypercare.
Hypercare Considerations for Covid-19 or similar disruptions
In today’s world, the Covid-19 pandemic has created new challenges when implementing new supply chain systems. Lessons learned from the pandemic will educate action plans in future supply chain disruptions, travel restrictions, and other unforeseeable global events. Remote work and safety protocols severely hamper the ability to have sufficient on-site support. These realities create new opportunities to rethink the way hypercare is staffed, and how each site should be supported. Anticipating that there will always be unexpected circumstances and disruptions, it is safe to expect:
#1: Warehouse staff shortages
#2: Need for more robust remote support tools
#3: Loss of key SME staff to quarantine, or other factors
Warehouse Staff Shortages
A competent and experienced warehouse team is essential to running any facility. The best warehouse staff members are trained as super users, prior to go-live, to create a sustainable transition environment. The most successful facilities solve minor system problems organically, without the need of hypercare support. Covid can disrupt even the most prepared staff.
#1: Complete a thorough Change and Impact Assessment
a. Determine what roles are changing the most
b. Determine in which roles the warehouse is currently lacking (physical
numbers or knowledge)
#2: Hire seasonal staff 1-2 months prior to go-live in these areas so new staff has time to get up to speed
#3. Share knowledge within your current team to allow some staff members to flex roles
Need for more robust remote support tools
Covid-19 emphasizes the importance of remote support tools. A hypercare bridge can be used to solicit feedback regarding system problems and/or lack of system knowledge at a facility. Phone bridges, ticketing systems, chat windows, can all be used to capture feedback. Whichever type of system is selected for hypercare bridge support, the following should be clearly defined:
1. Who will support the bridge?
It is very difficult to be on-site or responsible for a particular site and be responsible for the bridge traffic at the same time. Conflicting interests normally result in slower resolution times for bridge issues.
2. How many hours will the bridge be staffed per day?
Analysis of ticketing system volume (ServiceNow, Compass or similar) to compare to previous implementations may help.
3. Which users may submit items to the bridge?
Clearly define and communicate how users will approach the bridge, how issues will be tracked, and how items will be resolved is important to avoid confusion. If the process is not defined, users may be slower to report problems to the bridge, reducing real-time visibility to open issues.
4. How will items to be completed on the bridge be delegated for resolution?
Clearly define process flows for bridge issue resolution. Recording issues and resolutions concisely, yet fully, is important for post-hypercare assessments and lessons learned activities.
5. How will the status of open items on the bridge be tracked?
See above (Always define a process flow). When an item cannot be resolved immediately, how will users be contacted and notified of resolution? Consistency is key to encourage engagement with bridge support. Have a plan. Communicate the plan to users who will use the bridge for support.
Many clients utilize remote management tools for mobile and handheld devices. A support staff member can log into a device in real-time to assist a user. The support staff can resolve issues faster and without a cumbersome phone or text conversation. Applications such as SOTI allow for multi-factor security and authentication while providing a superior user experience.
Loss of key SME staff to quarantine
It is never convenient to lose a SME to quarantine. However, these occurrences have been a reality with Covid-19 and will exist through other future events that impact resources unexpectedly. Preparing to temporarily lose some of the best members on a team is vital. There may be a need for supplemental consultants or help from other teams within your organization. These new team members may not have strong system knowledge and may potentially have no knowledge of your system at all. For these reasons it is always best to be prepared to delegate as opposed to reacting. Determine which roles would be easiest for new support team members to gain knowledge in. Where could these new members provide practical experience the fastest? What training materials do we have readily available to help them get up to speed quickly? Have a plan of attack. Scrambling to decide where a new team member could be most useful wastes the invaluable time of other team members and project dollars.