Digitalizing the supply chain Part 2: Implementation

As we discussed in the first part of this blog series, it is virtually impossible for companies to effectively digitalize the supply chain without a clear strategy. Once the organization establishes which technological investments offer the greatest value, the next step is implementing them.

When it comes to adopting a new system or solution, companies should be cautious about prematurely deploying them. Launching an application before it - or the people who will be using it - are ready can have devastating impacts, including production delays, security risks and unnecessary costs.

All employees should be informed and aware of the new processes and receive in-depth training on how to use them. Furthermore, prior to fully transitioning to a digital technology, it is highly recommended that managers put policies and procedures in place that clearly lay out what to do in the event the system stops working, as well as who will be responsible for executing specific functions and tasks.

Training and timing
As Inbound Logistics pointed out, a common mistake companies make with supply chain digitalization is cutting the training process short because they start to run out of time as the go-live date nears. But skimping on employee awareness, training and education should be avoided at all costs, since operational disruptions are often attributed to human error.

Going back to the importance of having a clear strategy and plan for the digital supply chain, company leaders are less likely to have to choose between pushing back the launch date and rushing training if they have a comprehensive timeline for the project laid out.

Furthermore, businesses should try to plan for the digital implementation to happen during a slow or easy time of year for the supply chain. There is too much at stake during a peak or high-demand season to run the risk of adding to what is already a chaotic and stressful environment.

Preparing for the unexpected
Simply taking the time to anticipate any potential problems they may run into during the implementation process can help supply chain managers facilitate a smooth and seamless transition. For example, according to TechTarget, some of the biggest challenges supply chains face when integrating new technology include dealing with inaccurate or outdated data and trying to implement everything at once.

To ensure a new digital supply chain tool provides the greatest benefits possible, it is crucial to understand its full functionality. Failing to do this can quickly translate to wasted money and overlooked opportunities to enhance operational performance.

Trial runs should be conducted prior to it going live so that any issues, challenges or inefficiencies can be identified - and resolved ahead of time. This will also help make employees feel more comfortable with using the technology and point out any problem areas that weren't otherwise considered.

Leverage the right resources
Digitalizing the supply chain can offer tremendous advantages to companies. However, these benefits won't be realized unless the new technologies and systems are implemented correctly. Integrating technology with existing platforms requires some IT skills, which is why it is important that supply chain managers involve people who have experience working with similar tools, whether that is an internal or external resource. Consulting with a third-party supply chain solutions company can help ensure that the implementation process is as efficient and cost-effective as possible.

Once the application has been launched, the next step to successful supply chain digitalization is making sure that is properly monitored and protected - which we cover in the third part of this blog series.

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