Balancing Processes, Goals, and Technology for Supply Chain Resilience

BrandPost By Joanie Wexler
Jun 01, 2020
Supply Chain Management SoftwareTechnology Industry

4 tips for aligning your resources organization-wide and achieving business resilience.

Credit: ipopba

Today’s global, complex supply chains have been rocked by the current economic downturn. Companies are quickly seeking new and creative ways to achieve short-term sustainability—but they can also apply those processes to help ensure long-term business resilience. 

When considering change to improve the resilience of your supply chain, you might wonder whether you need to modify what you’re doing or how you’re doing it. The answer is likely a bit of both. Addressing the technology, processes, and people that all play key roles in the supply chain can help businesses gain the end-to-end visibility and real-time decision-making capabilities that will see their organizations through the next several bumpy months and beyond.

Using technology to automate supply chain process steps won’t buy you much if you don’t start by assessing the intrinsic value of those processes. However, if you use technology to help reimagine and realign supply chain processes as you review and update your business goals, you’re likely to end up where you want to be.

Modern supply chains need to account for all aspects of the delivery model: processes, technology, and people. Software systems are the technology component. They influence processes through automation and analytics, which enable people to make more granular and real-time decisions.

But the software systems are only as useful as the data you feed them. Cause and effect work perpetually in two directions, so continually syncing processes and technology supply chain components is a must for the up-to-date visibility and data accuracy necessary for informed decision making. A few best practices can help ensure these functions are always in alignment.

  1. Tighten the collaboration between your supply chain and IT. The two organizations can set up a system of checks and balances to ensure that the “why” and the “how” of supply chain technology solutions remain in balance.
  2. Establish a centralized organizational structure. Functional leaders need both a tactical view for everyday business and a strategic vision of where and how their function fits in the supply chain and how to make it better. Integrated data analytics that deliver a top-down view of all the many and varied links in the supply chain help enable centralization.
  3. Identify key processes to automate. Manual processes tend to inhibit supply chain visibility; however, today, more than ever, full visibility is vital to success. Knowing what you have and where it’s located helps create efficiencies and reduce operating costs—steps that are essential to creating organizational resilience. Automated software and location-tracking capabilities are significant contributors to getting the visibility you need. It helps, of course, to know what you want to achieve so you can automate your supply chain appropriately with measurable goals in mind. Identify specific objectives—such as “accelerate inventory turn by X percent within three years”—then configure your software automation system accordingly to provide the data that will allow you to achieve these outcomes.
  4. Revisit processes with automation in mind. Once you have a plan for automating designated processes, revisit operations to weed out any process redundancies or functions that technology has obsoleted. And revisit them again, and again, over time, as technology evolves and new solutions continue are introduced based on emerging capabilities.

Today’s supply chains are feeling the pressure to find efficiency and cost reduction opportunities that will sustain them through a few turbulent months while positioning them for future excellence and competitiveness. Rebalancing the process-technology-people triumvirate in the supply chain can set up organizations for long-term success, through good economic times and bad.

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