Elephants

There was a 13th century Persian poet and philosopher called Rumi, who tells a story about elephants. Three blind men are taken into a room where there is an elephant standing. They can touch one part of the Elephant and then they need to describe how they think the creature looks. Unsurprisingly, the guy who finds the trunk, thinks that the animal is a writhing pipe-like thing. The one who finds the ear says it is flat and flappy and the one who find the tail says that it is like a snake but smells really badly.

Of course, the moral of the story is that we have a tendency to project our partial experiences as the whole truth, ignore other people's partial experiences, and we should consider that we may be partially right and may only have partial information.

It is the same with customers. You ask them what they want (the worst question in the world) and you get a partial story, and worse, they believe that their partial story is the whole truth.

Our Solution Architects spend a lot of time with our customers to try and identify what a business needs. That will include the views of many people and not just those who run the warehouse. They will also factor into their design recommendations The Future and Flexibility. This will try to guide a company to make sure that their operation has the capacity to deal with changes in process and environment.

The design recommendations are, of course, just recommendations. An organisation is at liberty to ignore them or cherry-pick the bits they want. However, our Solution Architects are very good at what they do.

I was at a presentation recently, talking to a customer for whom we had implemented a warehouse several years ago, with a view to it being the first phase of a global roll-out. They declined to include any of the recommended e-commerce processes in their design as ‘we’re never going to get involved in that’. Our subsequent conversation revolved around how their current implementation needed to be changed as 40% of their volume was now via e-channels. The marginal cost of including those processes in the original implementation was small, whereas a retro-fit will be larger.

Think very carefully about the solution that is recommended for you. You may not see the whole elephant and you certainly don’t want to end up with a solution that smells as bad as the elephants back end.

If you want to see the whole of your elephant or just need honest, and independent advice on how to get the right SAP supply chain solution for your business, please get in touch here.