This week’s blog article is brought to you by a guest blogger Michael Koploy who is an ERP analyst with Software Advice in Austin, Texas.
In his article Michael argues that data silos need to collapse for greater supply chain data visibility and better supply chain resilience. We can’t agree more. The term death by spreadsheet in the supply chain is replacing the powerpoint equivalent in marketing !
Dissolution of Silos Necessary for Supply Chain Visibility
Inventory visibility, or the ability to access inventory data that is accurate, up-to-date, and accessible throughout the supply chain, is a key area of focus among supply chain leaders. Regardless of industry, improved visibility affords better decision making for both short term and long term supply chain investments.
In fact, a May 2010 study by Capgemini found that visibility was one of the most important initiatives for executives – 45 percent described improving supply chain visibility as their top priority for 2011. Yet, while many leaders are attempting to improve visibility, they are held back by the use of “silo-based” approaches such as managing inventory data using spreadsheet programs (e.g., Microsoft Excel) or having a sole purpose EDI solution.
While these individual solutions are powerful programs, they aren’t fit for the supply chain because they lead to data being delayed, disconnected and more prone to errors than automated entry methods that feed into supply chain software solutions. Just adopting a standalone solution, however, is not enough to lead to improved levels of visibility or accuracy.
John Simone, CTO of IBM’s Pubic Sector Supply Chain Practice, describes the ideal system as a “supply chain hub” – a network of solutions that have a common entrance portal for users. This hub allows for improved collaboration and streamlined processes.
To create such a hub, users need to adopt solutions that can network and communicate, such as a middleware message broker. They should be on the lookout for features that include the following:
- Automatic identification and data capture (AIDC)
- Dashboards that allow inventory data access throughout the supply chain
- Notifications and alerts to pertinent groups
- Communication features such as electronic data interchange (EDI) to expedite sending information throughout the network
The result of adopting these solutions and creating a supply chain hub can be seen throughout the value chain network. Examples include:
- More accurate inventory data and policies
- Greater insight into suppliers for procurement and sourcing
- Less bottlenecks within manufacturing and distribution….
And many more. An investment in improving visibility is crucial to creating a supply chain that can withstand disaster, continually keep distribution humming and always work to improve operations.