Business Relocation Case Study

A substantial supplier of canned foods to the major supermarkets needed to change their logistics service provider. The supplier held the stock, being around 30,000 pallets, in their warehouses. The company were acutely aware of their reliance upon the service provider as the stock was in their warehouses and the provider’s warehouse management system was being used to operate the warehouse. This second factor created many issues as, at the time, the interfaces between the providers system and the client’s host system were somewhat basic.

A search for alternatives lead the client to consider how they could change their method of operation to reduce their reliance upon the service provider. This resulted in the company seeking to rent warehouse space on their own behalf and to run the warehouse by extending the functionality of their ERP system to encompass the receiving and shipping functions. They then set about finding a service provider who could run the warehouse on their behalf, utilising the client’s computer systems.

In the event the warehouse space the client found gave them the opportunity to relocate from their relatively costly and cramped offices in North London to much larger and cheaper premises some 70 miles distant.

This is where the project started, the decisions to re-locate having already been taken before this project started. The role was to act as Operations Director, responsible for Logistics, Supply Chain and IT, with project objectives of:

·       Ensuring the total re-location of the company’s stock to the new warehouses without disruption to the service they offered their very discerning customers (who include Tesco, Sainsbury’s, and Asda).

·       Preparing the new offices, which were at the time a bare shell, for the move.

·       Re-locating the offices, including co-ordinating any necessary staff recruitment, as 70% of the staff would not re-locate.

·       Implementing the necessary changes to their ERP system (Movex) so that it could be used by the warehouse operator to receive and despatch goods.

In order to complete the programme:

·       Microsoft Project was used to plan and organise well in excess of 1,000 tasks.

·       An additional consultancy was used to assist in the change of warehouse operator and to undertake high level planning.

·       A new IT Manager was recruited to oversee the system changes and the physical move of computer equipment.

·       Detailed system specifications were drawn up. The system changes were developed and tested by the system vendor, prior to being tested by the project team.

·       Exhaustive system training was undertaken with the new warehouse operators.

·       The building trades were closely controlled to ensure that they performed on time and to specification.

·       The support of the client’s customers was enlisted and their help was sought in helping to plan their requirements around the time of the product move.

·       Each customer was moved at a time, with stock being built up in the new warehouses, whilst running down the old warehouse, prior to the move, in order to minimise the quantity of stock to move.

·       Clerical staff were recruited for the new site at various times prior to the office move and trained by the staff in the old office, before they left.

·       As far as possible, functions were moved one at a time to minimise the big bang at the weekend of moving out of the old offices.

After a project which lasted seven months and a terrific team effort, all of the project objectives were met, on time and in budget.

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