Some of you may be wondering why you haven’t yet unlocked exponential growth and profit from your supply chain. This is a common challenge for budding digital supply chains, so we’re here to outline a few ways to ensure you can leverage the benefits of building a digital supply chain.
It may be hard for some to believe, but even if you’ve now replaced a few archaic processes with the latest and greatest tech, achieving an end-to-end digital supply chain is more than just buying new programs here and there; it’s about totally transforming the way you manage all your processes.
So, yes (and unfortunately) it’s not enough to replace one process with IT-enabled processes and then call it a day. Although you may be feeling incredibly proud and forward-thinking because you’ve now stopped receiving orders via fax, the benefits of digital technologies are best felt when everything works in harmony. Software applications dot all the I’s and stroke all the T’s when you don’t have the time to put the sentence together in the first place.
Today we’re going to look at why automating manual supply chain processes will save you time and money, while also making your operations breathtakingly efficient. And luckily for everyone, it may not be as complex as you think.
A digital supply chain is a smart supply chain
Ideally, a supply chain should only receive the glory and accolades of being truly digital if all paper-based processes are replaced with web-enabled capabilities. A digital supply chain goes far beyond hybrid models that inter-mingle paper-based processes with IT-enabled processes. A fully integrated supply chain that utilises technology from end-to-end is the penultimate achievement for supply chain experts across the globe, but it’s getting there that’s the challenge.
You may be thinking that replacing a few of your processes with software platforms is enough to gain the benefits of digital transformation. Unfortunately, it’s not. Enabling real insights and value from your supply chain requires information on customer service interactions, inventory levels, status of freight forwarders, suppliers and third parties. Without a full view of your supply chain you are essentially blind when it comes to dealing with challenges and disturbances.
One of the reasons digital supply chains are so highly sort after is the benefits achieved from big data and analytics. Thanks to the insights gained from data, logistics networks can transition from working within a field of possible unknowns, to pooling objective data from every aspect of the business.
Big data has such an impact of business that organisations sometimes even shift their goals and vision once they’re able to see clearly how their business is currently operating. It’s also incredibly easy to make data insights operational within the business, because even a small change on inventory levels can have a huge impact on the bottom line.
So it’s easy to see why digital supply chains have a clear advantage over supply chains that still operate with a range of manual processes. Below we take a deeper look at why manual processes aren’t preferable in a digital landscape, as well as outlining a few ways to replace the most common manual tasks.
Just in: Manual processes are holding you back
Supply chain data could be either an information-filled dream or a cursed burden depending on the technology you have in place to manage it. It sounds dramatic, right? But without a digital data entry platform, manually in-putting data into any software is an inefficient and time-consuming way to function.
Many businesses today make huge investments in new technology platforms, but archaic processes (like accepting orders by fax) force supply chain managers to do the cumbersome work of manually inputting data. Essentially, something that could be done in a split second by a software application is taking workers hours upon hours to do. So what’s the solution? Worker automation.
‘Worker automation’ is two words that probably sends shivers down some business owner’s spines. But as we discussed in our previous post, automation doesn't have to totally eradicate your human workforce, in fact, there are some very easy ways to start automating and saving time without making too many drastic decisions.
Credit, collections and payment processing are time consuming activities. Digitising and automating payment handling means you can standardise the way you deal with suppliers and customers. This can improve payment times, reduce order errors and improve accuracy of billing and responding to enquiries.
Responding to emails
In today’s eCommerce climate, there is no doubt that businesses are under pressure to deliver a perfect customer experience. But that doesn’t mean you can’t automate emails here and there to make life easier. Consider automating your order confirmation emails, and setting an automatic response letting customers know you’ve received their enquiry and will respond in a given time frame.
Getting the right balance of people and technology
Nobody’s wants to input data into a system all day, there’s no doubt about that. But on the flip side, you may find that there are some manual task done by certain team members that are impossible to replace by machines. And that’s also a fair point.
Relying solely on technology to glean meaningful insights from all your operations may be a mistake when the technology you use doesn’t know the in’s and out’s of your customer preferences and how to deliver a great experience. No customer likes to feel like a number, and without the mix of human interaction and technology you may find you alienate your customer base.
Finding a balance between technology and the insights that can be managed from a human workforce are important to a healthy supply chain. A great way to ensure you’re getting the right balance is by auditing all the processes in your supply chain and seeing where integration has helped to streamline processes.
So there we have it. At the end of the day, manual processes will slow your supply chain down. But it’s also important to ensure anything that still needs human interaction isn’t replaced. What are your thoughts on manual processes in a digital supply chain? Let us know in the comments below.