The top three supply chain data exchange requirements
Having worked with supply chain businesses for over 30 years we understand the different needs businesses and their departments have when it comes to supply chain data exchange. To help you ensure supply chain success, we have outlined the top three requirements we come across from the different areas within a supply chain business.
Supply chain improvements have never been more sought after. With supply chains being pushed to breaking point by the ever-changing demands put onto them, it is no wonder supply chain businesses are looking for ways to improve supply chain efficiency. For example, after the outbreak of COVID-19, it has become clear that continuous supply chain improvement is essential, to not just competitive advantage, but survival.
Improving supply chain performance is not a small task. Supply chains are impacted by many factors, so when trying to improve the overall performance of a supply chain, it is best to break it down. In this particular article, we will take a look at supply chain process improvements, specifically those related to supply chain data exchange.
Increase efficiency - save money & move faster
One of the biggest ways to improve supply chains is through efficiency. This efficiency can be achieved through many different changes. In recent years, most efficiencies have derived from digital-based changes; from going paperless, to implementing automation, embracing technology and software updates, or eliminating data silos.
Seamless supply chain integration
Talking of data, as someone who works with supply chains, you will know that supply chain data contains the crucial insight needed to make supply chain improvements. In our other article, The impact of failed EDI on supply chains, we highlight the errors that can occur across the supply chain data flow and its impact. However, it is not just the implementation of supply chain integration that needs to be thought about. Consistent monitoring and maintenance of integrations are needed to ensure that data is being sent, received, and interpreted. This allows the supply chain to continue to run smoothly in the future.
Reduce risk - increase resilience
We know that supply chain businesses are looking for the most reliable suppliers. More recently, multisourcing and/or nearshoring is becoming more common, resulting in switching or adding suppliers. While making a switch or adding suppliers is good in theory, there are other aspects to consider. What about setting up new suppliers? How long will it take? Do you have the resource and the time needed?
To reduce the risk of supplier onboarding teething problems, you need a slick onboarding process with technical experts to make it happen fast but correctly. Preventing fines/chargebacks through correctly setup suppliers alongside monitoring the integration, increases your supply chain resilience.
Additional reading: If you want to learn more about supplier onboarding, check out our article - Agile Supplier Onboarding: Supply Chain Security in Uncertain Times
Visibility of data
By being able to see your supply chain data and report on activity, you can:
- Spot potential issues and prevent them from occurring.
- Look back and forecast your demand, allowing you to plan for what might be ahead (known as demand planning).
- Uncover gaps and gain insight into where improvements can be made.
You’re not alone! - After the disruption caused by the pandemic, continuous improvement in the supply chain has hit new heights.
"More than 80 percent of organisations have reported their supply chains being negatively impacted by the COVID-19 crisis"
Why you should consider EDI if you haven’t already got it:
- Go paperless and be sustainable
- Improve efficiencies
- Faster data exchange transactions
- More reliable transactions
- Increase the amount of business that can be done
- Reduce human error and improve record accuracy
- Unleash reinvestment opportunities
- Gain visibility and control
Already got EDI? Consider the following:
- An audit of your current EDI setup with suggestions for data exchange improvements
- Getting support from experts so you can concentrate on your business objectives
- Outsource certain projects e.g. widening your EDI capability through EDI adoption down the supply chain to further reduce risk
Implementing new systems and solutions into a business is a big investment. So how do you ensure they are the right fit?
Finding a future-proof EDI solution:
Flex & Scale - As your business grows and adapts to change, can their solution and their business adapt too?
Expertise - it’s all well and good having the experts now, but what are they doing to ensure they keep their employees trained and how do they go about replenishing their knowledgeable staff?
Technology - Consider your current technology stack and setup. How does it align with theirs? Are they any hurdles to consider?
Integration - What integration capabilities do they have?
Reporting - Do they provide reporting? What does that look like and is it customisable?
Culture & Values - Don’t forget to look for a business that has similar values and goals e.g. if you are a leading entrepreneur in your space, are they also a visionary that is researching and developing new ways too? If not, the solution might not keep up with your expectations!
Future - So you’ve made a list of what you need now, but what about the future? Have you asked them about their business plans and what is on their current roadmap? More importantly, does it look like it will fit in with yours?
Additional reading: To find out more take a look at our article - Ten things to look for in an EDI Managed Service Provider
Visibility of the supply chain:
Having an EDI solution in place does not guarantee you visibility of the data exchange that is occurring. It is crucial to expose the complete functionality you can get from the solution an EDI provider offers. Is it simply a communications solution that works in the background that you cannot interact with? Or does it provide you with a user interface that gives you limited visibility? Access to real-time, actual data allows you to focus on exceptions and actual delays that need attention, so be sure to ask those probing questions before committing.
Visibility to in-transit inventory
EDI Example: Advance Shipping Notices (ASN’s) are the documents that are sent, via EDI, as a lorry leaves the warehouse with a delivery, pre-warning the destination of its departure. This visibility of the supply chain enables the planning of its arrival to take place, whilst being able to adapt to and delays or other changes that may occur.
You’re not the only one thinking about this!
"By 2023, 50% of global leading enterprises will have invested in real-time transportation visibility solutions."
Want to learn more about a future-proof EDI solution?
If you’ve found this page then you probably already know the impact EDI can have on supply chain businesses. But just in case you don’t, I will put it plainly for you. EDI when implemented correctly, and supported by experts, can improve supply chain businesses dramatically. For example, a single order placed using EDI can save you up to £14. However, EDI is a sought-after specialism. So for businesses who have outsourced their EDI support to a provider who doesn’t understand their business or doesn’t care about the impact EDI errors can have, major supply chain issues occur.
What is going wrong?
The most common reason businesses reach out to us for EDI support is because their current provider does not understand or care about their business, and/or just doesn’t meet their contracted SLAs (Service Level Agreements). If SLA’s are not met when errors occur, then the problem is not fixed on time.
As I’ve just explained, EDI is critical to supply chain success, so having an EDI support provider who is slow and doesn’t understand your business can become costly. Here are a few reasons why:
- Increased risk of penalties from customers by not meeting their trading requirements.
- Prevents the business from winning future contracts through the loss of supplier points.
- Stops the business from growing to its true potential from the continuous setbacks.
- Damages the business’s brand and reputation.
Additional reading: To learn more about the cost of EDI errors, check out our article - The impact of failed EDI on Supply Chain
Anyone who works in or closely with supply chain operations may have already experienced the above or be asking how to prevent this.
Guess what, you’re not alone! "With 85% of the supply chain industry using EDI, the majority of your peers will have the same challenges."
How support with Data Interchange is different:
- All customers are treated fairly, no matter how big or small.
- We get to know you and your business, so we understand the business impact and respond accordingly.
- Our flexible and scalable support options ensure we cater to all types of business requirements.
- Being in control of our service from beginning to end, enables us to resolve issues much faster