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How many of you are implementing a manufacturing planning and control system? One of the main reasons for attending an APICS conference to is find the appro­priate training for employees within the company. What level of education and training do we need?

Hutch's twenty-first law states that there is a critical mass of knowledge required to bring up and maintain a planning and control system. Of the total number of employees in the company, one percent must know enough that they could pass all the certification exami­nations and become CPIM. And another 10 percent must know enough that they could pass the certification ex­amination for their area of experience. Without this criti­cal mass of knowledge, the company has to rely on consultants and software vendors to solve problems and resolve issues that should be handled by the company. Note that this critical mass is not the total knowledge base needed, but just the minimum starting point. We still have to get some information and working knowl­edge to the other 89 percent of the employees. Yes, that is correct, you do need to reach 100 percent of the em­ployees in the company.

Some of these people will need as much training as your implementation team. The team should have the entire certification series (or AMES series) in addition to software-specific training. Others may need only one overview class such as the Basics of Supply Chain Man­agement. Still others will need only an explanation of how the system fits into the company. About the short­est period of time that I would recommend is a half-day class. That was the answer that we came up with at the space center in response to a request from programming, purchasing, engineering, accounting, configuration, and even HR staff.

We developed a four-hour course that related the MRP system to the company functions that these people were familiar with and concerned about. We called it MRP Ground School. A course like this will need to be presented many times for small groups, especially if your company has remote facilities with just a few employ­ees working at these remote sites. This is not the type of training for which it would be cost-effective to bring in a paid instructor; you will need to develop instructors from the 11 percent that make up your critical mass.

Developing your instructors may require a train-the-trainer course and course development education, unless you are fortunate to have someone who is al­ready proficient in these areas. Before I was on an MRP implementation team, I spent four years in the train­ing department of a federal agency. There I learned these skills and was able to put them to good use. I was able to combine training and course development with the experience of the MRP implementation team to put together the half-day course for the company. You can't purchase an off-the-shelf course like this because it needs to be company-specific, and who knows your company better than the people who work there already? If you cannot identify someone who has the training and course development skills, there is help available from APICS and ASTD. In other words, you may have to grow your own.

There was a reason that we called this course MRP Ground School. Pilots learn to fly an airplane by actu­ally flying. One of the requirements for flight training is to complete a course of study called ground school. In this class, the fundamental concepts of flight are cov­ered along with some of what can be expected once the student is in the air. Completion of ground school does not mean the person can fly, but that they are now ready to learn. This class was designed for people who are not going to be direct users of the MRP system but will be dealing with users. They cannot leave this class and go and run an MRP system, but they can talk with the us­ers and understand the acronyms and what they mean.

To illustrate this short course, we are going to step through the four-hour course in the next 30 minutes. Obviously we can't go over everything with the same level of detail, but I will explain to you what we did and the material that we covered.

To Be Continued

For balance of this article, click on the below link:

Lean Manufacturing Articles and click on Series 13


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