Join the blurry dots of Next Gen Supply Chain – 5 insights that will take your organization forward

From expecting deliveries at least a week after the order has been placed, to being entitled to 1 hour deliveries, I think we all agree supply chain and logistics have evolved at lightning speed. Since supply chain management is the backbone of all organizational processes, there’s a burning need for companies of today to integrate their physical operations with disruptive technology to build ‘Next Gen Supply Chain’ for sustainable commercial success. 

To make it easy for you, we have compiled five major takeaways from the recently-held Opex Conclave held at FIIB:

  • Focus on Real-time analytics

Today’s supply chain spans across continents, as the reach widens, end to end visibility into processes is a must for supply chain management. Many organizations have adapted analytics dashboards and business intelligence solutions for better efficiency. By comparison, descriptive analytics tell you ‘after the fact’ insights, while real time analytics will help you fix problems and make decisions in real time. Further, it’s also not just about analysing data, the organizations should train their managers to understand these real time analytics and use them to make better decisions in terms of procurement, logistics, operations, and distribution.

  • Don’t use a one-size-fits-all strategy for distribution channels

Among the relatively less-discussed aspects of supply chain management is also the significance of distribution channels. While the important role of distribution channels in all businesses cannot be denied, most businesses are known to adopt a rather inconsistent and ad hoc approach towards their management. This short-sightedness can be particularly harmful to B2B companies, like those involved in selling technological solutions, where a major portion of the job begins, not ends, after selling, In B2B companies, the efficiency of the distribution channels comprises not only aspects like reach, stocking and finances, but also others like site surveys, providing solutions and demonstrating how they work, etc. You can also leverage channel partners through training them to create value addition in pre-sales and post-sales. Further, Information relating to existing products, trends, customer-feedback, strategy on sales and methods, is available from distributor channel partners. They can even provide crucial information with which you either make or break a sale.

  • Master the basics of Master Data Management

Master Data Management can be understood to include electronic data interchange (EDI) for the flow of the documentation (purchase orders, delivery challans, invoicing from suppliers), the global data synchronization network (GDSN), which provides a data pool to ensure that the product and the information pertaining to it are well available in the market, and the standard operating processes (SOP), which would include areas like item creation, item maintenance, cross referencing, pricing, promotion, etc.

GSDN helps improve consumer experience and sales. Big retail chains like Wal-Mart have separate teams to undertake MDM for each of their sections. Similarly, SOPs are required for each and every level of the movement of goods, and for this, various departments of a business need to be aligned.

  • Focus on procurement, warehousing, and advanced inventory planning

While procurement as an aspect of supply chain management is well known, what gets challenging is achieving a high degree of efficiency in the domain. Most companies are still using MS Excel, Outlook and PowerPoint for warehousing and inventory planning. The organizations need to upgrade to much smarter ways of handling situations where the movement of personnel, goods, machines, etc could be measured in seconds in a warehouse. That will also require well-trained people with flexibility and passion. They need to be honed in specific traits and technology to make the process more efficient.  Using predictive analytics and demand forecasting, advanced planning of inventory needs to be done at organizations where distribution time plays a key role in the business

  • Build effective safety, security, and communication

Very critical to the proper functioning of supply chain and distribution channels is safety (fire alarm systems, fire suppression systems, sprinklers), security, and communication. This also makes other equipment manufacturers (OEMs) crucial to the domain, and together they often determine whether or not a particular sales deal will materialise or whether there will be loss of future sales.

Modern day communication devices also serve wide purposes, for example, the CCTV camera cannot just be used to record, but with the help of artificial intelligence, it can also be used to issue alerts in real time, thereby providing a definite edge to the product being offered. But these are expensive and require proper maintenance and protection. Similarly, public address systems can also be used to monitor and correct the goings on, removing confusion, directing personnel, etc.