So, who’s running the IT show in your supply chain? And are they helping you achieve a balance between meeting demand and minimizing stock levels?
A recent supply chain management study among three hundred stakeholders from the logistics and manufacturing sectors revealed that 45-53% of surveyed companies say that achieving that IT balance is their biggest challenge.
Other problems commonly faced in the industry include communication difficulties with suppliers and customers as well as the disruptive effects of production bottlenecks and rush jobs. The Divisional Director of Supply Chain Solutions at one company said, “Most companies still tend to be very reactive to supply-side problems. Typically, a firm doesn’t know there is a problem until supplies fail to arrive. Because companies are running on leaner stock levels and lower contingency allowances in order to free up cash, while customer expectations of perfect fulfillment in ever-shorter time frames continue to grow, the effects of poor supplier performance are magnified, often disrupting production and fulfillment across many lines and to many customers.”
So, what’s the answer to this common supply chain dilemma? IT!
True integration between MRP systems, production scheduling, forecasting, stock and inventory control would be a start. Adding strong business intelligence systems can help ensure that relevant information is collected, applied and distributed, so that the moving target of orders can be met through an appropriately and continually adjusted minimum inventory strategy.
Evaluate your organization and ask yourself, “Are we up to date in these IT areas? Or is our IT infrastructure development lagging behind? Are we fully leveraging our software systems? What areas are we facing imbalances in?” These questions can help you identify where your weaknesses might be, and allow you to better plan how to correct them.
Which should come first – the technology? Or your supply chain process?
Too many companies select technology tools they hope will make them more efficient, then structure their workflows and processes around that chosen technology. A more efficient plan would be to first identify and review the processes that need improvement, then select the technology that best satisfies those process needs.
At best-in-class supply chain companies, managers understand that technology should help them better manage their supply chains. They find a way to use technology to produce beneficial information without having to perform various workarounds to extract and view the data. They recognize the importance of an efficient purchase-to-pay process and have adopted strategies and mechanisms to get the greatest benefits from technology.
How can talent help?
Obviously, it’s extremely important to have top tech talent on your supply chain team. You need someone who can conduct assessments of your supply chain and then identify IT weaknesses and areas for improvement. You also need someone who has dealt with the challenges of technology selection, implementation and application, is aware of the next generation of technology tools and is familiar with the implementation challenges inherent in the complexity of today’s supply chain software solutions.
Who can help you find the technology employees you need to keep your supply chain running smoothly—and safely? Give the experts at ZDA Supply Chain Recruiting a call. With our deep background and extensive contacts in the supply chain industry, we’ll know how to find the people with the skills you need.