A detailed comprehension of supply chain design and processes is vital to those directly responsible for their organisation’s supply and demand requirements, but do those in finance, procurement and sales really know enough about the supply chain?

Those who are not working directly on the supply chain could in fact be the missing part in their organisation’s supply chain success. When access to the supply chain is restricted to only those working directly on it, the wider business is, to some extent, stumbling along in the dark. Unfortunately, this can only impact negatively on the efficiency and profitability of operations.

If everyone was granted access to supply chain data relevant to their own individual responsibilities, businesses would operate so much more effectively. This is entirely plausible with the right choice of supply chain software.

Striving for greater levels of efficiency
From procurement teams to finance specialists and sales personnel, there are countless departments and individuals who, given a greater view of the supply chain and its workings and how these impact on their departments and individual responsibilities, can be optimised to facilitate greater levels of efficiency.

Finance controllers, for example, could benefit from gaining a familiarity with the suppliers that require quicker payments to release goods that your business might urgently require. Manufacturers would benefit by quickly receiving out of stock components that are delaying production while retailers could satisfy customer demand with shorter lead times.

Procurement teams could benefit from access to data that enables greater demand planning based on end-consumer demand dictating stock production, ordering and replenishment schedules. Through software-enabled collaboration with those involved with supply chain logistics, procurement teams can ensure all inventory buffers are removed between suppliers and end-consumers, reducing the likelihood of long lead times, or excess stock requiring costly storage until there is a demand for it.

Procurement teams could also benefit from greater access to the supply chain by meeting purchase deadlines for perishable goods. By being given a greater view of the supply chain, they can move perishables through the supply chain before they are past their best, ensuring the business can sell the produce at maximum value instead of discarding spoilt stock, which would likely happen at a cost.

Without access to the relevant supply chain data, the best performing sales teams can in fact have a negative impact on supply chain operations. With a lack of information on supplier lead times, sales personnel can cause backlogs and bottlenecks, pushing sales for items that are already in demand while forgotten stock that they could be selling instead continues to sit in a dusty warehouse at a cost to the business.

Business disruption is a fact of life
Business disruption is inevitable whether it comes as a result of a financial crisis, natural disasters or political upheavals. In 2016, the BCI Supply Chain Resilience Report found that one in every three organisations reported losses of £750,000 or more that year. The report revealed that the biggest impacts on organisations came from loss of productivity, cost of working and damage to brand. If the events of 2017 were anything to go by, the year ahead could see varying levels of disruption in global, political and natural forms impacting productivity, cost and brand even further.

There is hope, however. By providing senior management with a clearer view of the supply chain, they can keep their businesses safe from disruption and ensure healthy profits. Provided with a global view of the supply chain, they can identify areas where greater efficiency and other cost saving measures can be applied. If that view is supplied through software that features supply chain modelling capabilities, they can also plan and model the supply chain for disruptive scenarios.

This is all easily achievable with access to relevant data, as well as the ability to collaborate easily with supply chain executives and other internal stakeholders invested in the supply chain.

From the C-suite down, and across various departments, a greater synergy can be found within the business and between the business and its supply chain partners. The supply chain has become an essential resource for the experts in every department, and with the right supply chain software, businesses will flourish in the face of disruption. l

Will Lovatt is Vice President EMEA at LLamasoft. LLamasoft supply chain design software helps organisations worldwide design and improve their supply chain operations. LLamasoft solutions enable companies across a wide range of industries to model, optimise and simulate their supply chain network, leading to major improvements in cost, service, sustainability and risk mitigation.
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