Yes, it’s been a strange year. The good news is, such incredible disruption means lessons learned. And that’s true especially in those of us who work within the supply chain, and manage supply chain stability.
COVID-19 has woken those up who were still agnostic about sweeping digital transformation.
Disruption is inevitable. Supply chain veterans already knew this, but persuading those in control of the purse strings hasn’t always been easy. At least now everyone knows that technology ensures continuity and resiliency. needs implementation.
Before everything went mad in early 2020, supply chain improvements were focused on refining things like operational speed, reducing manual input and overall costs. Those things remain relevant, but to create a truly resilient supply chain, one that can survive, say, a global pandemic, organisations must design a supply chain backbone that’s as strong as it is flexible. One that’s easy to optimise continually.
OmPrompt’s clients come from a variety of sectors, but most, if not all, found themselves busier and more tested than ever over the last few months. The power of the OmPrompt platform was well and truly put to the test, and, if you’d allow me a second to boast, passed every one with flying colours.
So, with that experience, today, I’ll share a few ways to increase your own supply chain visibility.
Better supplier collaboration
COVID-19 meant a lot of our customers had to take a hard look at supplier diversification and why it’s vital to know their suppliers better. This recent study found that more than 10% of the world’s Fortune 1000 companies had main suppliers in Wuhan, where the virus first hit. That meant immediate global shortages. With no established back-ups, the domino effect was staggering.
With the right technology in place, you’re able to get a better understanding of your suppliers and act more proactively, should anything happen. This more profound understanding means should a supplier not be able to fulfil an order, you’re aware of it beforehand, and can act proactively if needs be.
This also applies to sourcing, meaning you may need to consider a balanced decoupling strategy.
Many of our clients started looking closer to home, but also understand the need and benefits that come from sourcing commoditised products internationally. You need to find the right balance that works for you – between globalisation and localisation. Which ratio gives you a more resilient base?
A stronger business continuity plan
By the beginning of 2021, you have put together a document of how your company reacted to the pandemic and what lessons were learned. But don’t just file it away, instead, take a look at your supply chain using the same perspective, and ask yourself:
- Are we in a good place to ensure information flow is maintained? Are their contingencies in place? Are digital channels embraced, like paperless workflows and collaboration technology?
- How are production and fulfilment going to continue without disruption? Do we have alternative supplier and sourcing strategies in place?
- Are employees looked after? If a critical member of staff were to be off sick, what contingencies exist so that work can continue as usual? Can our services be delivered in a contactless fashion?
Customer insight and visibility
Were your customers kept in the dark during this year of upheaval? Today’s customer wants to know when and where their product is at all times. They need real-time information, from order to fulfilment. They expect you to know their preferences.
You can ensure your customers are always in the know by implementing a self-serve option, that leverages AI and machine learning and helps both you and them better contextualise what’s going on in the world. There’s never been a greater need for real-time insight, particularly from your customer’s perspective.
Design, technology and a little out-the-box thinking make supply chain visibility possible – removing bottlenecks and data silos and adding AI-enabled insights into your supply chain. It’s by getting total visibility of every supply chain step you’re able to prepare for and survive whatever the world throws at you.
But, visibility is no longer enough. It’s how you use that visibility. If you can proactively identify issues before they become credible, rapidly switch suppliers to avoid disruption and know of industry changes before they become mainstream – you get a proper competitive edge. Not just that, but you get happy customers.
Visibility allows for resilience. And if 2020 has taught us anything, it’s that resilience is the key to survival.