Today's companies have to move faster than ever before, but breakdowns in any area of the business can thwart this need for speed. For example, when delays appear in the supply chain, organizations may find their overall operations unable to proceed. The cure for this kind of slowdown involves casting a critical eye over the most recent IT developments and determining which ones can help that particular business excel.
When procurement and other supply operations fall behind, it may be because company leaders underestimate the potential impact of tech improvement. The goals and aims of procurement departments have stayed the same for years, with companies needing to establish good relationships with suppliers and receive the materials that make their operations possible. The internal mechanics of reaching those objectives, however, have changed.
What can technology do?
Supply Chain Quarterly reported that data management is the main innovation empowering modern supply chains. Using new IT systems to collect data and make sense of it is an effective way to make geographically sprawling operations seem more manageable. Performing analytics on a wide variety of useful inputs is a decision-making aid, one that can enable leaders to avoid missteps and move with a surety that would be impossible to gain using legacy systems.
Replacing old technology with newer versions could be the major challenge facing supply chain executives in the years ahead, according to Supply Chain Quarterly. These businesses have fallen into patterns, and are recording and communicating data in antiquated ways. If there's no easy way to make content available for analysis, the decision-making benefits will be slow to materialize.
The news provider tempered this drive for progress with a warning: Change shouldn't all happen at once. A PointSource report cited by Supply Chain Quarterly found that when Boeing tried to make a full-scale renewal of its supply chain, the manufacturing giant instead put its whole new aircraft production program behind schedule by three years. Tech implementation should be gradual, and begin with a focus on obvious improvements that workers appreciate.
The business climate today rewards organizations that work seamlessly. The internet's new default status as the method of communication between customers and companies has created a need for efficiency at the most basic level, and all processes leading up to transactions must keep up the pace. Logistics industry multi-organization board member Ingilby Dickson told Logistics Magazine that today's supply chains must be "smart and slick," as they play a critical role in helping companies fulfill their promises to customers.
End-to-end communication, including engagement between the supply chain and the rest of the organization, is another mark of the digital age. Dickson pointed out that logistics officers are being brought into high-level discussions, as the leaders of other branches of companies realize how hard it would be to achieve their customer-centric goals without supply professionals maintaining inventory, controlling costs and ensuring accountability.
While the basic goal of the procurement supply chain is basically the same as ever, these departments have seen their integration with the rest of companies increase. Adequate data use could help them in this newly relevant role.