A Digital Supply Chain Starts with Operational Management, Communication, and Connectivity

I focus my day to day on empowering organizations to digitize their supply chains. Digitization can be an overwhelming task when you look at many of the existing software in the market. However, when businesses choose a new, simple, intuitive, and configurable software, they can scale to new heights quite quickly.

When I think about creating a digital supply chain, my mind goes directly to the results. Through a virtualized supply chain, you can generate robust data to improve the decision-making process. Since we cannot get to this stage overnight, the first step is to do a deep dive into how the day-to-day currently operates. The three pillars you need to focus on your current operations, communication, and supply chain participant management.

Peter Drucker once said, “you cannot manage what you cannot measure.” To effectively measure your current operations’ efficiency and effectiveness, you will need to ask yourself and your team: 

How can we manage all of our supply chain participants on one system?

How do we currently track, manage, and maintain the status of current projects? How accurate is this system?

How do we currently define phases and stages across the product lifecycle? How are we assigning accountability at every step?

These questions are the first step in establishing a baseline of your current operations. Once you can answer these questions, you can quickly identify the quick fixes that software can provide to your operations before moving onto the more significant overhauls that may be necessary. 

Once you establish the operational tasks that can be improved or eliminated through digitization, you can focus on communication. Supply chains have hundreds, if not thousands, of participants that historically communicated through multiple channels, such as email, phone calls, or text messages. A fragmented communication system builds disconnect and siloes across teams and limits traceability. One of the Suuchi GRID’s core tenets is our communication module to remove the siloes and simplify communication for every supply chain participant.

While this might seem like a smaller detail, improved communication leads to increased visibility across the supply chain. For example, if an employee is out, moves to a new department, or leaves the company, you no longer have to spend hours hunting through emails and messages to find files or messages they sent you. With all of the communication on one system, you can easily access information without wasting time searching for it, or worse, having to start from scratch.

Now that you have a strong understanding of the daily operations and have all of your stakeholders (internal and external) on one system, you can begin to optimize how you manage all of your supply chain participants. At the internal level, you can identify where software streamlined tasks and can have employees redirect their time to support sales and marketing initiatives. This level of visibility becomes crucial as you start to review your external partners. For example, you can begin to rate your factories on metrics like timeliness, quality, and sustainability, to optimize your vendor network to include only top-rated factories. I come from a Fintech background, a highly-advanced industry when it comes to technology—my last organization competed directly with pure AI processes to replace people processing data. While the supply chain industry has a way to go before reaching this automation level, the industries have the same goal: to track previously neglected data to make smarter decisions for the future. We will get into the reporting, predictive, and prescriptive analytics results in another edition, but I will leave you with one last image. Imagine a world where you have an organized and streamlined process from product conception to distribution with forecasting based on real-time data. That could be your future if you digitize your supply chain today.

Read the New Voices in Supply Chain blogs here

Written by Andrew McKenna


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