The landscape of supply chain is growing more challenging by the day. If current events haven't spurred organizations and teams into realizing the importance of an agile supply chain agility, those organizations are going to be swallowed up by competitors or be mired with inefficiency. Ultimately, it comes down to mindset – whether or not your company is proactive or reactive.
Where reactive companies are at the whims of outside forces such as supply chain disruption and machine breakdowns, proactive organizations are already looking to the future and identifying risks, and then working backwards to coordinate and plan ahead. These teams recognize that advance coordinating of people and resources is mission critical to solving day-to-day problems and preparing for risks down the line.
We see this success as coming through operational agility – the ability of an organization to flex and adapt its operations, technology, and information to evolving business requirements and market changes. Within supply chains, creating this agility allows for supply chain professionals to increase reaction time to change, view organization-wide performance in a single location, integrate across core systems, and do it all at speed.
We have seen this focus on agility lead to major supply chain success From multiple-part sourcing strategy, to vendor risk scorecards and proactive approaches to program development, operational agility can have a wide impact on supply chain processes. We see two key characteristics as driving this approach to increased agility – workflow automation and increased visibility. Here are how those play major roles in increasing your supply chain agility and preparing your organization for change.
When workflows are stuck in manual processes and manual systems like Excel, they are much more time-intensive to manage – not to mention more risk-prone due to manual error. Quickbase's Supply Chain Resilience survey found that 39% of supply chain leaders identify the root cause of slow reaction time to unanticipated change comes from manual processes. And even more troubling, when workflows are happening in multiple manual systems at once, processes can become incredibly difficult to maintain. This can result in overspending, inability to scale, and of course the inability to react quickly to change.
When organizations prioritize agility, they can navigate their key challenges, including data stuck in core systems and collaboration being a struggle. Automated workflows allow for fast, reliable work to be done without needing additional resources. Integrated tools that are flexible enough to adapt with your workflows, and a team-based approach leveraging the expertise of your teams, will allow for more agile reaction to supply chain disruption.
Accessible, visible information
These manual workflows also lead to trouble with data visibility. With data siloed in inaccessible core systems that are not linked, your teams will have no visibility into key information that informs their work. The organizations that are succeeding are building single sources of truth.
Focusing on operational agility will empower your business teams to drive the processes they are closes to. Teams can now work better and faster with their suppliers, vendors, and stakeholders across the business. Providing supply chain teams with the right information at the right time will give organizations the flexibility they need to react to change.
Picking the right platform
Organizations that are successful in adding workflow automation and visibility are going to need the right platform to do so. The right platforms allow for teams to build complex data models, establish connectivity with siloed environments, and drive focused reporting – all in a single integrated environment. With integrated systems and normalized information, coupled with a flexible, governed set of roles, you can drive focused execution that ensures the right people act on the right work at the right time.
While the volume of terms and disciplines being out there right now can be overwhelming, it’s important to note that many organizations are still at the beginning of their journeys in figuring out how to transform their tools and their culture to realize operational agility. And even while it is critical to do this sooner than later, the benefits of focusing agility in your supply chain are still attainable. So by focusing on these two facets, and beginning to ask the right questions of your organization, your organization can manage disruption and be ready for the future.