FAQ: Support Services

Lokad offers expert-led guidance for its AI-driven, quantitative supply chain solutions, ensuring clients have personalized assistance so they can confidently manage their supply chain optimization. Lokad’s support services include a wide range of resources, such as easy access to the supply chain scientists themselves, extensive documentation (including a unique Joint Procedure Manual for each client), and onsite training.

Intended audience: The supply chain and/or planning departments.
Last modified: March 20th, 2024

support service agent wearing a headset working at a computer

1. Direct support

1.1 What is your practice for long term support with your customers?

Long-term support is ensured by Lokad’s supply chain scientists, who lead the initiative from its inception. They remain dedicated throughout the production phase, continuously improving the solution as long as Lokad remains the chosen vendor for supply chain optimization services.

The supply chain scientists’ contributions extend beyond traditional ‘support’ roles for enterprise software vendors. They frequently re-implement the entire solution every few years, reflecting changing supply chain dynamics. While this may appear excessive, experience has demonstrated this practice to be necessary, as solutions inevitably become outdated over time. Relying solely on configuration adjustments is unrealistic. Solutions become outdated and irrelevant over time, necessitating the rewriting of numerical algorithms. Fortunately, with advanced technology like Lokad, this process is relatively cost-effective.

The Joint Procedure Manual (JPM) serves as the comprehensive guide for the initiative, authored and updated by our supply chain scientists. It plays a crucial role in transferring accumulated insights consistently from one scientist to another throughout the initiative. These insights often hold more longevity than the numerical recipes themselves. Continuously nurturing this knowledge is essential for genuine support of the client, rather than simply meeting arbitrary staffing quotas.

1.2 What kind of support options do you have? (e.g., chat, phone, email, etc.)

There are three options that are predominantly used by our clients to interact with Lokad’s team of supply chain scientists: emails, tasks, and video calls. The ‘task manager’ is a built-in feature of Lokad’s platform, capable of performing typical task/ticket/issue management functions. While chat is available, it is rarely preferred. Instead, direct video calls are generally more productive for both parties, Lokad and the client. Lokad does not attempt to distribute support operators across multiple chat sessions, as supply chain optimization requires undivided attention from an expert. Anything less risks serious errors. We are open to alternative support channels, provided they meet adequate security standards.

1.3 Can project support be provided in French, in Spanish, in German (e.g., deliverables, meetings, etc.)?

Yes, Lokad supports most Western European languages, including French, German, and Spanish. By default, support will be provided in English. Language preferences should be addressed in the contractual agreement between Lokad and the client.

It is important to note that all source codes delivered by Lokad, including scripts written by Envision, the DSL (domain-specific programming language) of Lokad dedicated to supply chain optimization, are written and commented in English, adhering to industry-standard software practices. Those deliverables are not intended to be directly used by end-users. Furthermore, while the source code remains in English, the UI (user interface) elements can be localized to any language, as needed by the client.

1.4 Do you have a support portal available for users?

Yes. While Lokad does not typically label these capabilities as a “support portal,” they essentially serve the same purpose. A traditional “support portal” usually comprises self-service documentation and a ticketing system in case the documentation is not sufficient.

Lokad’s supply chain scientists produce the documentation. In particular, the default practice of Lokad strives to make each dashboard and report as self-contained as possible, notably by including the documentation directly into the dashboard. However, when the number of materials exceeds what can be included in ‘contextual’ documentation, dedicated support materials are also produced and shared through the Lokad account.

Furthermore, the Lokad platform incorporates a task manager, which includes standard capabilities expected from a task/ticket/issue manager, as well as the equivalent interactive capabilities of a support portal. This tool is tailored to the client’s account. Support requests often contain confidential information from the client. Furthermore, addressing these requests effectively requires Lokad-side supply chain experts who are knowledgeable about the client’s specific details.

1.5 Does the support portal allow for an increased visibility of support requests to other operators?

Yes, the task manager within Lokad’s platform provides standard task management functionalities. For any given task (i.e., support requests) entered in the system, it is possible to explicitly assign the tasks to one of Lokad’s supply chain scientists. Furthermore, individuals can be notified by mentioning their username in the task description, triggering a notification within the web application. These features are provided by the Lokad platform to help supply chain scientists in effectively prioritizing tasks within client accounts. The supply chain scientists fulfill various roles beyond traditional support operators.

1.6 Can you provide a 24/7 business support group within the client’s technical department to manage L1 (Level 1) support onsite at their headquarters?

Yes, while not typically included in our standard service agreements due to cost considerations, we are open to negotiating custom arrangements to include this service in the contractual agreement between Lokad and the client.

Few clients opt for such services, as they are simply not needed. While most of our clients have 24/7 requirements included in their SLA (service level agreements), Lokad is designed to run unattended. It is typical for the numerical algorithms we deploy to function autonomously for extended periods, often lasting weeks, without requiring any manual intervention.

Several enterprise software products are often too unreliable to be left unattended for 8 hours at night, as they frequently fail to complete their nightly routines. However, at Lokad, we made a deliberate decision over a decade and a half ago to prioritize reliability.

The final phase of the onboarding process (months 5 and 6) aims to demonstrate, among other things, Lokad’s ability to be left unattended for days at a time without issue.

While our software is exceptionally reliable, it is important to acknowledge that handling unforeseen supply chain crises, such as floods, tariffs, wars, or lockdowns, goes beyond the capabilities of technology alone. In such situations, Lokad’s team of supply chain scientists is readily available to swiftly adjust the underlying algorithms. Our technology excels in promptly adapting to sudden changes in the business environment, ensuring a rapid response when faced with unexpected challenges.

Based on our experience, it is generally preferable to carefully consider the appropriate solution to a problem, even if it means delaying resolution by a few hours, rather than hastily making a decision that could have long-lasting financial consequences.

1.7 Can you provide 24/7 on-call L2 (Level 2) support for critical and high severity issues, including holidays and non-business hours?

Yes. The specifics of these services are detailed in the contractual agreement between Lokad and the client.

However, supply chain optimization does not align well with the traditional L1 (Level 1) vs L2 (Level 2) support model common in enterprise software. Once basic operational issues are resolved, such as service downtime, the remaining challenges are often more nuanced.

Analyzing supply chain data, such as determining replenishment quantity, requires understanding of the client’s operations and unique context. Lokad’s support is provided by our supply chain scientist teams, who design the optimization logic. Availability of these experts during holidays (*) and non-business hours is specified in the contractual agreement with the client.

(*) Note that Lokad observes French holidays by default, which may differ from those of the client’s country of operation.

1.8 Can you provide reports to the client on a monthly basis (or other intervals as requested) summarizing support activities, service calls responses and resolutions?

Yes. When requests are channeled via the task manager, a built-in component of the Lokad platform dedicated to task/ticket/issue management, clients can self-monitor support activities and resolutions. Upon request, Lokad’s supply chain scientists can provide more concise high-level summaries of these activities for client management.

1.9 Can you guarantee that there are enough skilled and experienced resources readily available to provide thorough product familiarization training across product, technology, and business domains?

Yes. Lokad’s supply chain scientists are dedicated to fulfilling these requirements. Our business proposals specify the number of resources, such as supply chain scientists, needed to execute the client’s supply chain initiative effectively. This commitment is formalized in the business agreement between Lokad and the client.

It is important to note that while most enterprise software vendors offer certification programs from third parties, true proficiency in supply chain optimization demands hands-on experience with large-scale, automated numerical recipes to drive daily mundane supply chain decisions. Lokad’s in-house training program for supply chain scientists precisely ensures this level of expertise.

2. Training

2.1 What type of training material do you provide as standard?

We provide three types of standard training materials:

First, the Joint Procedure Manual (JPM) serves as the comprehensive guide for the initiative, authored and updated by our supply chain scientists. The JPM contains insights that have been collected through the initiative and justifications for techniques used in our supply chain solution solutions. Internally at Lokad, the JPM facilitates the smooth transitions between supply chain scientists and remains continuously updated.

Second, the functional guides are concise and task-specific, in contrast to the extensive nature of the JPM, providing support for specific tasks within the Lokad solution. For instance, it explains how to evaluate input data, leveraging the ‘data health’ dashboards provided by Lokad. The content is typically derived from the JPM.

Third, our website hosts extensive public documentation on our technologies and methodologies. These public training materials, including workshop-style practice exercises, are freely accessible and more comprehensive than typical enterprise software vendors’ offerings.

See Learn for comprehensive training resources, including tutorials, guides, and workshops.

See Workshops for hands-on practice and interactive learning sessions.

2.2 How is training conducted?

Apart from the extensive self-service options available through our public materials, Lokad’s supply chain scientists typically conduct training.

The supply chain scientists oversee both the implementation of the solution, including its numerical algorithms, and the training of both supply chain practitioners and management. This dual role is crucial. In fact, the supply chain scientist, who is employed by Lokad, often learns as much, if not more, from the supply chain practitioners employed by the client, as they do from the scientist.

Many enterprise software vendors employ a top-down training approach to training, primarily due to limitations in their solutions that prevent effective incorporation of client feedback. However, Lokad stands out significantly. During the onboarding phase, most training sessions are designed not only to comprehend but also to challenge the information provided by Lokad. The Lokad platform’s programmatic nature allows it to uniquely adapt and incorporate adjustments or refinements based on the feedback received from our client sessions.

This practice works because the instructors who explain the solution and the engineers who create it are typically part of the same team, often even the same person.

2.3 Is the training provided suitable for both beginners and intermediate users?

Yes. The training materials delivered by Lokad’s supply chain scientists are designed to be accessible to users of varying familiarity levels.

However, the challenge does not primarily revolve around users’ prior familiarity with Lokad—whether they are beginners or advanced users—and more in their diverse perspectives and objectives. Each team within the client organization, including planning, procurement, production, logistics, and finance, approaches Lokad’s supply chain solution with its own specific viewpoint. For example, the procurement team may require detailed information on MOQs (minimal order quantities), while the finance team may prioritize understanding cash flow projections. Similarly, top management has its own perspective, which necessitates a broader understanding of the supply chain solution without delving into every intricate detail.

Therefore, supply chain scientists tailor the training materials not only based on users’ familiarity levels but also to align with their specific perspectives and time constraints, considering the time users can devote to the supply chain initiative amid their other responsibilities.

2.4 Can you provide a detailed schedule for familiarization training at least one week before it begins, and will you arrange and conduct training sessions for the client’s project team?

Yes, these responsibilities are handled by Lokad’s supply chain scientists. We will comply with the client’s requested process, which includes communicating detailed schedules and agendas in advance for all work sessions, including training sessions.

As a guiding principle, we prioritize effective communication with our client companies. Finding the right balance between too little and too much process is essential. Communicating the agenda too far in advance may cause our correspondents to lose sight of the event, potentially diminishing its relevance by the time the session occurs. On the other hand, sharing the agenda too late leaves insufficient time for adequate preparation.

2.5 Do you provide resources for training trainers, including manuals, exercises, agendas, data preparation, and conducting sessions?

Yes. Lokad’s supply chain scientists serve as trainers, utilizing the comprehensive Joint Procedure Manual (JPM) as the primary training resource. This document consolidates all insights relevant to the initiative and is regularly updated, ensuring alignment with the project’s progression.

The JPM is used internally used at Lokad as training material, facilitating seamless knowledge transfer between supply chain scientists. Clients receive access to the latest version of the JPM, tailored to their initiative.

The majority of training materials, which cover general Lokad technologies and methodologies rather than specific initiatives, are publicly documented and accessible to both clients and the wider audience.

For clients seeking to internalize supply chain science expertise, we offer direct support for ’train-the-trainer’ programs. Upon request, we can arrange multi-day on-site training sessions at our headquarters to expedite the learning process.

See Learn for comprehensive training resources, including tutorials, guides, and workshops.

See Workshops for hands-on practice and interactive learning sessions.

2.6 Will you provide a detailed agenda for the train-the-trainer program at least a week in advance?

Yes. Lokad will adhere to any process deemed necessary by the client.

The training program, typically spanning a month, focuses on developing supply chain scientists. Training durations vary, with junior scientists trained in about 6 months, and senior scientists in about 2 years. It involves hands-on work supervised by a senior supply chain scientist at Lokad, often working on the client’s supply chain.

2.7 Do you offer specialized training for client supervisory and business leadership roles?

Yes, these responsibilities are handled by Lokad’s supply chain scientists.

Lokad routinely publishes materials intended for supervisory and business leadership roles in the specific context of supply chain.

See the chapter Tactical and Strategic Execution of our supply chain lecture series.

2.8 Do you conduct specialized training for the client’s IT team to facilitate system administration?

Yes, these responsibilities are handled by Lokad’s supply chain scientists.

Typically, they also oversee administration of the client’s dedicated Lokad account. However, if requested by the client, this administration process can be transferred internally.

It is worth noting that the Lokad platform requires minimal system administration compared to many enterprise software products, making it similar to lightweight SaaS B2B offerings.

See the Lokad Platform to discover more information on our public documentation.

See FAQ: Information Technology (IT) for more insights from the IT perspective.

2.9 Does the system administration training cover user administration, deployment architecture, interface setup and monitoring, and routine housekeeping tasks?

Yes, these responsibilities are handled by Lokad’s supply chain scientists.

The Joint Procedure Manual (JPM), the comprehensive guide of our initiative, authored and updated by our supply chain scientists, covers all the mentioned aspects related to system administration.

Furthermore, in a typical Lokad account setup, specific tools developed by our supply chain scientists are incorporated for monitoring the solution from a system administration standpoint. Among these tools, ‘data health’ dashboards play a prominent role.

See The Data extraction pipeline for more details and to explore how our solution can streamline your data management processes.

2.10 Do you offer end-user training upon request, covering the creation of training materials, exercises, testing, data preparation, agenda formulation, conducting sessions, gathering feedback, and refining training based on feedback?

Yes, these responsibilities are handled by Lokad’s supply chain scientists. Training services are customized to each client’s specific needs and objectives. We leverage client feedback to adjust and tailor our services accordingly.

As evidence of our commitment to training services, our public website offers an extensive range of publicly accessibly training materials, which is typically uncommon for enterprise software.

See Learn for comprehensive training resources, including tutorials, guides, and workshops.

2.11 When mandatory, will you provide training on new features introduced in the product roadmap to ensure proper adoption and usage across the user community?

Yes. However, it is important to clarify that there are two types of ’new features’: account-level features and platform-level features.

Account-level features are tailored to each client company, driven by the implementation carried out by our supply chain scientists using Envision, Lokad’s DSL (domain-specific programming language). These features are integrated into the client’s roadmap and are accompanied by a comprehensive onboarding plan, including training and adoption tracking.

Platform-level features, such as Envision updates, are common to all clients. These updates are designed to be transparent to end-users as they do not alter the semantics of Envision scripts. While these updates are publicly documented, they are generally only relevant to clients with employees actively coding in Envision within Lokad.

2.12 Will onsite classroom training be provided at the client’s headquarters without additional charges, and will the client ensure participation?

Yes, onsite classroom training at the client’s headquarters is available if specified in the contractual agreement between Lokad and the client. While our standard proposals do not include onsite services, they can be added upon request. Lokad charges fees to cover the overhead of having staff onsite. However, a certain number of onsite days per quarter can be negotiated as part of Lokad’s service package.

See also Direct Support 1.6 in this FAQ.

2.13 Do you help the client review their SOPs (Standard Operating Procedures) and offer feedback on optimal system utilization to enhance user productivity and business process automation?

Yes, Lokad’s supply chain scientists oversee this process.

We offer assistance in adjusting SOPs to maximize productivity and supply chain performance using Lokad’s solution. These refined SOPs are collaboratively designed with the client’s supply chain practitioners.

It is important to note that Lokad aggressively automates repetitive tasks involved in predictive supply chain optimization. Typically, the existence of SOPs suggests tasks that should be automated. As a result, clients often find fewer SOPs once in production, as most have been automated.

The Joint Procedure Manual (JPM), authored and upheld by Lokad’s employed supply chain scientists for the ongoing initiative, includes these SOPs. The term ‘joint’ signifies that the JPM documents procedures for both the client and Lokad.

3. Documentation

3.1 Are there updated user manuals or usage notices available for the system? What do these materials cover?

Yes, Lokad provides a comprehensive set of materials called a Joint Procedure Manual (JPM) for each project. These manuals are created and maintained by Lokad’s supply chain scientists and serve as a central resource for the initiative. The JPM is continually updated throughout the project’s lifecycle and facilitates smooth transitions between Lokad team members.

The JPM covers various aspects, including explanations of the dashboards and tools within the Lokad account, along with guidelines on their usage. Additionally, it documents the insights gained during the project and justifies the implementation of specific numerical recipes.

Once the Lokad solution is in production, it operates autonomously, often without the need for human intervention. Instead of spending time operating the solution, individuals from both the client company and Lokad focus on ongoing improvements. Consequently, the significance of user notices diminishes compared to traditional enterprise software, which heavily relies on end-users for operation. However, in Lokad’s case, precise documentation of the numerical recipes driving automation becomes even more critical, making it a primary focus of the JPM.

3.2 Do you provide comprehensive documentation, including FAT (Factory Acceptance Tests) reports, setup requirements, and release and rollback instructions, to ensure a smooth installation of the release?

Yes, these aspects are covered in the Joint Procedure Manual (JPM) as part of our ongoing efforts. However, the focus on system administration overlooks the key aspects of predictive supply chain optimization.

The Lokad platform is programmatic and has been designed to minimize friction with new releases. For example, the Lokad platform provides extensive support for concurrent runs between multiple versions, allowing extensive pre-release tests.

The core challenge when considering a consequential release, such as a release that impacts the numerical recipes steering the supply chain decisions, is assessing the desirability of the release. In terms of features, the new release is usually identical to the old one (for example, both versions provide reorder quantities). However, concerning supply chain performance, the latest version is expected to be superior to the previous one.

Demonstrating that a newer version significantly improves supply chain outcomes is challenging, far more than simply proving its compatibility with the older version from a system administration perspective. Typically, multiple instruments such as dashboards and reports are specifically designed to address this question in a typical implementation. These instruments are also documented in the JPM.

3.3 Do you provide updated product user manuals during the train-the-trainer sessions? Are these manuals consistently updated to reflect software functionality changes?

Yes, Lokad’s supply chain scientists create and maintain the Joint Procedure Manual (JPM), which serves as both the user manual and train-the-trainer guide. This ensures smooth knowledge transfer between Lokad’s team members working on a client’s account.

The JPM is continuously updated by the supply chain scientists themselves to align with any changes made to the software. This guarantees that the manual always reflects the current implementation of the solution.

3.4 Are the product user manuals available in English within the application?

Yes, the dashboards and reports in the Lokad account include contextual documentation. Our team of supply chain scientists manages these materials, allowing for adjustments based on feedback to enhance accessibility.

Furthermore, as evidence of our commitment to providing high-quality user-oriented materials, documentation is a top priority within the Lokad platform. It benefits from a dedicated datatype called ‘markdown’.

Our default language for manuals and other documentation materials is English. However, we also offer support for several notable languages commonly used in Western Europe, such as French, German, and Spanish.

See Markdown datatype for more detailed information and examples.

3.5 Are the user manuals designed to help users quickly understand how to use the application in different contexts?

Yes, our manuals are context-sensitive and are integrated into the reports and dashboards for clarity. Interacting with the Lokad application is simpler for supply chain practitioners compared to many other enterprise software products. Lokad’s platform is unique in its ability to streamline the user interface by removing unnecessary elements specific to each client’s needs. This design reduces complexity, unlike many other enterprise applications where relevant features can be buried under irrelevant ones.

While our user manuals may not focus extensively on user interface details, the Joint Procedure Manual (JPM) serves as a comprehensive guide. Compiled by our supply chain experts, it contains insights into the chosen methodologies and decisions made. The JPM addresses crucial ‘why?’ questions, providing insights into the rationale behind chosen formulas and strategies, often reflecting the specific needs of the client. Additionally, it covers ‘what?’ questions related to Lokad’s functionality, although these are more technical in nature compared to the fundamental insights provided.

3.6 Does the product manual have a search function for keywords and topics to help users find information easily?

Yes, the Lokad platform’s documentation is publicly available and searchable on popular search engines. Client-specific information is organized in the Joint Procedure Manual (JPM) for easy access, with search capabilities similar to standard documents.

See also the Glossary page part of Lokad’s technical documentation for further clarification and insight into technical terms and concepts.

3.7 Will the product manual have screenshots with real data to help users use the application effectively?

Yes, the Joint Procedure Manual (JPM) contains screenshots taken from the client company’s production account on the Lokad platform. This documentation includes contextual in-app guidance.

3.8 Do you provide a comprehensive documentation detailing the release management process, including aspects like the DevOps CI/CD pipeline, database scripts for system maintenance, job monitoring, data archival methods, and server monitoring procedures?

Yes, we offer comprehensive documentation tailored to each client’s needs. Our Lokad platform operates as a multi-tenant SaaS solution, with the release management handled centrally by our teams. This ensures transparency for our clients and their teams.

Since the Lokad platform is programmatic, it includes an account-level release management process that utilizes the platform’s archival and monitoring capabilities and is tailored to each client’s unique requirements. Detailed documentation of this process is provided in the Joint Procedure Manual (JPM) authored by Lokad’s supply chain scientists.