Last week we examined the importance of a refreshed business continuity plan, why it’s essential to take a new look at the roles and responsibilities each person in the organization has if disaster strikes, and how to keep your business operating at full capacity no matter the external issue (say, a global pandemic).
A significant part of preparing for the worst is a deep dive into your processes, how they currently function, and what they would look like in an altered state. This is known as ‘de-risking.’
Since OmPrompt’s inception in 2004, we’ve witnessed the enhanced evolution of supply chain discipline, shifting from often fragmented logistics and operating departments to the more coordinated functions standard today.
Averting supply chain discrepancies are increasingly crucial for any organisation trying to maintain sustainability. In this instance, risk can be defined as a variety of events and outcomes that harm the flow of goods, services, information, or funds resulting in some form of quantitative loss for the supply chain.
De-risking your order management processes means minimizing the risk any of the above failings may have while, in turn, turning vulnerabilities into strengths, maximizing output while reducing errors across the board.
With that being said, here are five ways to de-risk operational processes.
Identify process variances
Variability can be found in all tiers of a supply chain, from the different enterprise systems involved, the product portfolio, the geographies, and customer segments.
As your business grows either it’s product portfolio (although in all likelihood we will see SKU complexity decrease due to COVID-more on that soon) regionally or internationally, the potential for disruptions across your supply chain increase due to:
- The growing number of suppliers and customers
- The ever-growing list of requirements for customers and suppliers
If not appropriately managed, creating, and maintaining separate processes for different customers, suppliers, or geographic regions can result in significant time and energy investment. Additionally, each new process variations mean the likelihood of process inconsistency. To get full process management and standardization under control, companies need to develop an effective way to manage process diversity in a centralised and configurable way. A balance needs to be struck between standardisation and flexibility.
Identify process visibility blind spots
Modern supply chain density and breadth creates natural blind spots, whether you’re managing new ecommerce pressures, transacting via multi-enterprise business networks or working with customers and suppliers manually. Ensuring you have proper visibility across all channels and transactions has become crucial to subduing the impacts of disruption and ensuring profitability and customer satisfaction.
Incremental changes won’t do enough to remove the blind spots; instead, they tend to focus on pain points within separate factors, zooming in on warehousing or manufacturing or logistics. As a result, many businesses deploy an array of visibility solutions that often don’t communicate with one another or give a ‘big picture’ insight.
OmPrompt exists mainly to give businesses full visibility over there transactional processes end-to-end to optimise efficiency and control costs better. Indeed, many issues in order management, ranging from incorrect invoicing, ineffective communication, and fulfilment errors stem from a lack of visibility. In other words, total visibility is the foundation for ensuring you get it right the first time.
Identify repetitive processes with manual touchpoints
A manual touchpoint brings an administrative cost, the inevitable opportunity for human error, and a distraction from doing more for the customer. These repetitive tasks don’t serve an organisation well. Each manual touchpoint requires both people and time to rekey information and validate it (hopefully spotting potential issues that may cause problems downstream). One manual document could take as little as a few minutes to process or as long as 30 minutes depending upon your business. Multiply this by the number of documents, and that is a lot of time.
Streamlining your workflow with automated processes to reduce these manual touchpoints eliminates the chance for error. Workflow standardization instantly cuts down on the administrative time required to handle each job, getting orders into production faster and cheaper.
In terms of the financial burden, automating these manual touchpoints reduces typical bottlenecks, including proofing, job estimation, and order entry. Additionally, instant and automated processes reveal the aforementioned blind spots. Transactional data can be mined, allowing you to refine your methods and give yourself more time to improve customer and supplier communication.
When de-risking your processes, optimising the least efficient and digitally mature parts of your operation is critical. If the direction of travel is towards more remote working and more agile teams, then freethem of the burden of data entry.
Identify knowledge silos
One of the most significant factors to consider when implementing a de-risking program is the prevention of siloed data and knowledge. Legacy technology and spreadsheet management is the guilty party when it comes to siloed data. Legacy technology because it may not be fully integrated with other systems or does not transmit information in real-time and spreadsheets because they are full of valuable information but this is kept outside enterprise systems and on shared drives or worse desktops. Connecting to a platform like OmPrompt not only facilitates efficient data transfer but with its many pre-configured options, it standardises all data before pushing it to different sources. It makes use of the spreadsheets that are inherent in many order management processes. You might refer to the as cheat sheets or teams will reference daily updates shared by other departments. This is all powerful information but it is isn’t being fully utilised. It can be when plugged into a digital platform.
We should not underestimate the risk of process knowledge that has not been documented. It lives in the minds of the team but reliance on certain individuals being on call and available is not a long-term strategy. As you evaluate your processes identify which touch points require subject matter expertise, how is this managed and more importantly, how can this be harnessed digitally. OmPrompt’s Business Rules Engine codifies this knowledge and applies in real time as documents are being processed. And with machine learning behind the scenes it can stay up to date and accurate.
Of course, communication plays a massive role, as data silos are especially prevalent within a single organisation, but that can be addressed through more proactive cross-departmental communication. In terms of logistics, visibility comes from correspondence between different parts of the supply chain, which means holding your partners up to a higher data standard.
Identify gaps in process governance
Governance means the organisation of process management. It’s the goals, principles, and defined roles that determine who can make what decisions, as well as the policies or rules that define or restrict what decision-makers can do. By identifying gaps within said governance, an organisation can proactively and efficiently manage and improve on these set of processes (and subprocesses) by which they deliver value to stakeholders, suppliers, and customers.
If I could use a London Underground analogy, process governance is about ‘minding the gap’. The ‘gap’ is the difference between what the performance of a process should be, and what it currently is.
Minding this gap is the proactive identification of gaps and evidence-based decisions about which gaps need to be closed and when.
When you mind the gap on the process journey, you are consciously and systemically finding and resolving process performance anomalies and opportunities. Ask yourself, can I efficiently and effectively identify when formal and informal agreements with my customers and suppliers are not being adhered to as they transact with me.
This could be as simple as ensuring the minimum order quantity has been met, or the despatch information has been sent on time. If the answer is no, then you may lack the tools to monitor manage and scale these processes.
The best preparation for tomorrow is doing what you can with what you have today
In supply chain things change fast – and having gaps in your knowledge can limit your ability to compete. That’s why de-risking your processes can be so useful – to keep up to date on mission-critical information and know what changes to make to drive your supply chain strategy.
With a BCP established, and your processes more refined with risk management, you can begin segmenting your customer base with a little more ease.
By doing so, you’re able to accurately identify potential issues later down the line depending on a sector. This is something we’ll be exploring in further detail next week.
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OmPrompt’s fully managed order management platform makes it easy for companies worldwide to trade with each other. The cloud platform connects manufacturers and retailers via EDI to their customers, suppliers, and third-party providers.
It automates the processing of the other manual documents to capture, create, fulfill, and settling processes. With one platform, businesses can connect to any trading partner, digitise any document, and process any format. Clients can achieve end-to-end visibility, focus on their core operations, and quickly see the benefits of automation.