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Gain Control of Your Supply Chain: Eight Points to Ponder

By Kevin Wilson April 18, 2016 by Kelly Kuhlman

How to Monitor Your Supply Chain?When it comes to the extended supply chain, it is critical to ensure that any issue that occurs during the process is uncovered in a timely manner. Once an issue has been uncovered, it then becomes critical to take action on it in order to get the process back on track. Without this kind of actionable insight, we will simply run less effectively and ultimately end up paying more for the execution of our supply chain — increased buffer stock to account for supply chain irregularities, poorly optimized reorder points and optimal order quantities, and so on. We have lived with chaos and exceptions for so long but there is hope; there is light at the end of the tunnel. We need to gain control of the supply chain, and it all begins with gaining control through visibility into what is actually happening.

In order to monitor your supply chain effectively, you need ALL of the following components in place:

  1.  Get data: Automatic data feed from systems – External and internal communication needs to be near real-time. The supply chain waits for no one, and the information is king in today’s chain.
  2. Get connected: External partner collaboration – Timely, accurate reporting of supply chain-related events by all partners (suppliers, distributors, carriers, freight forwarders, etc.). Simply put, we need to know sooner rather than later that an issue has occurred. Also, a partner may not know that an issue has occurred, but by simply reporting in a supply chain event can cause follow-up on actions to get things back on track.
  3. Get collaborative: Process integration – Your ERP system needs to be highly integrated so that an exception or opportunity in one process can be “sensed” and “responded” to in another. This cross-functional impact is critical.
  4. Learn from the past: Historical information – Relate what you are seeing at this moment with previous similar moments (Avoid knee-jerk reactions if the exception is not really an exception).
  5. Gain control: A rule-based event tool – An enterprise-wide supply chain event repository with a rule engine is needed to process events and uncover exceptions. Match the actual with the plan to uncover exceptions.
  6. Gain better insight: A real-time analytical tool – The event tool needs to extend to a supply chain cockpit for KPI analytic processing / dash-boarding — in real-time. The drill-down capability from KPI issue –> to process issue –> to instance issue, this is critical to collapse the time from insight to action.
  7. Give access: Make the information accessible – Provide the results in an easy-to-consume manner. It’s important to leverage the platforms that the consumers are used to, whether the Web, twitter, email, texts — all devices on which the information is provided should be supported.
  8. Take action: Alert and workflow management – Once an issue has been uncovered, it is time to address it. Time is of the essence: Launch an alert, fire off a text, trigger a corrective workflow, reschedule a shipment … get cracking!

Gain control of your supply chain: See more details on the Solution Brief from SAP in here.

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