Creating a successful supply network depends on the success of multiple external partners. Profitability is virtually only possible if every part you need is available every time you need it. We call this supply assurance. Your ERP is a strong tool, and without it you’d be lost; but your ERP alone is not enough. It doesn’t connect those partners with your team or provide meaningful information about things like lead times, acknowledgments, or PO changes.
For that, you’ll want an automation and collaboration software that brings buyers, suppliers, and every other stakeholder together and eliminates the long clerical work that many teams are subjected to.
Take an Assessment
Supply assurance depends on many factors and parties. Start with a comprehensive assessment of your entire operation. Identify areas of improvement and set achievable goals. Can your team members see potential points of disruptions in the purchase order or invoicing processes? Can they make strategic decisions based on real-time information from a single source of truth? Without a true collaboration and automation solution, these goals remain lofty.
Diversify Your Supplier Base
Taking on new suppliers can be a hassle—one that may not necessarily be immediately profitable. It’s common for manufacturers to focus 80% of their attention on the 20% of suppliers that make up the highest spend. In today’s environment, disruptions lurk around every corner; and you don’t need us to tell you how devastating it can be to halt hundreds of thousands of dollars of production over a delayed $2 bolt or widget. True supply assurance can only be accomplished if you have second and third tier suppliers who are ready and capable of stepping up in the event of a disruption to your primary vendors. In this way, you will eliminate single points of failure and set yourself up to withstand major issues that arise.
Get Visibility You Can Trust
You need a view into your internal business, but don’t neglect visibility into your external partners. When POs change (and they will—our research shows over half will change in their lifetime), is your team notified automatically? Or do they depend on catching one specific email in a sea of other emails? If a shipment is delayed, how soon will you know? How are your suppliers performing? Are scorecards up-to-date?
These questions and more are critical, and with a strong collaboration solution, you know the information is accurate and available immediately. Armed with this information, you can make strategic decisions to get the parts and materials you need on time, every time. This is what we mean when we say supply assurance. If you have designs on beating the competition, forward-looking visibility is an absolute must.