Supplier Relationship Management (SRM) is an integral part of a business’s overall operational strategy. To be successful, businesses need to learn to adapt to changing geographical and network boundaries to effectively collaborate with partners in the supply chain.
The elixir of any successful business strategy is data. When businesses get the right data at the right time it becomes easier to control outcomes. This rings true of the supply chain strategy as well.
Key Elements of Supply Chain Data Management
The three main tenets of successful supply chain management system are:
Each of these benchmarks can be achieved through adoption and application of data management technology.
Data management technology has undergone an evolution. Gone are the days of restrictive data silos and warehouses. Today, businesses can collect, collate, share and utilize data in real time by adopting the following technology in their supply chain operations:
Traditionally associated with cryptocurrencies, blockchains are slowly making an entry into the world of supply chain. Blockchains are digital shared ledgers or online records which map the digital interactions between two parties in a verifiable and traceable manner.
Essentially, blockchain is a technology that can be used to track the online operations and digital footprints of multiple users by analyzing all the transactions they conduct.
When we speak of ‘contracts,’ we always imagine three parties – the assignor (who makes the contract), the obligor (the beneficiary and the one who obliges by fulfilling the contract) and the enforcer (the party in charge of mutual fulfillment of contract).
But, with smart contracts, you have only two parties – the assignor and the obligor. Smart contracts are technology which automates the enforcement of the contract. Using a series of If/Then statements, these codes are programmed to map various scenarios that may play out in the contract, thereby instructing the technology on the action to be taken in a particular real scenario.
Smart contracts make third-party intervention unnecessary by fully automating contact enforcement.
Cloud computing has revolutionized business. The Software as a service (SaaS) platform, in particular, has had a far-reaching positive impact on operations. By providing a wide selection of sophisticated applications, the SaaS allows businesses to achieve collaboration across the business spectrum.
SaaS solutions provide comprehensive, up-to-date and fully-hosted infrastructure, middleware, application software and data to businesses, allowing them to concentrate on their core operations.
The blueprint for successful supplier collaborations
It’s been observed that supply chain management can be successfully executed through effective data management. Here are 5 data strategies that businesses can implement to make their SRM a roaring success:
Leveraging the power of dynamic data for dynamic procurement
Traditionally, procurement involved businesses using IoT devices to check inventory levels against orders by running specific algorithms. Although helpful, this outdated strategy can be quite limited. Today, businesses can use blockchains to map requirements and inventory levels in real time.
Instead of updating existing standards and algorithms, real-time blockchain data can be used to create new algorithms to place new orders. Parameters like price, location, delivery date, weather conditions and perishability can be tracked and recorded in real-time and factored into these algorithms, customizing the procurement process. This ensures greater transparency over the supply chain.
Automating order execution through scenario mapping
Gone are the days of manually changing order requirements after accounting for supply chain factors. Today, smart contacts and blockchain technology have enabled businesses to automate the entire process of order placement and order execution.
Once businesses map scenarios of potential bottlenecks in the supply chain, they can then code the contract by using a set of If/Then statements. This way, once the blockchain gets updated with real-time data, orders can automatically be amended and executed through smart contracts.
Utilizing a single platform for all supplier collaborations
As the scale of operations increases, so does the requirement for greater collaboration among players along the supply chain. To facilitate this collaboration, and along with it, ensure integration and communication, businesses need to set up networks on a single platform where every member of the supply chain can access the other.
Leveraging global databases and data pools to set up online networks is a great way to interact easily with channel partners, manage data and maintain data security and control.
Running a live product information system
These days, every regulatory body in the Food & Beverage industry has set up compliance requirements requiring players along the supply chain to provide up-to-date information pertaining to everything from raw materials to nutritional certifications.
Setting up a live product information system to collate data from a master data system is a great way to share accurate and updated information between partners. Today, software is available which allows businesses to easily upload their product, material and process information on to global data repositories and data pools, also allowing businesses to access, manage and monitor the data on these global networks.
Improving visibility and traceability through cloud computing
Data is useful only if it is reliable, accurate and up-to-date. Cloud computing allows businesses to verify the accuracy and reliability of the data they collate. By allowing infrastructure interoperability and data integration, cloud computing technology helps businesses maintain control over its data sources. Greater monitoring of data can also be achieved.
Additionally, technology like SaaS helps businesses gain immense insights from big data by providing access to sophisticated applications that can be scaled and integrated as desired. This means that businesses can now adapt their software and applications to suit the data requirements at different stages of the supply chain.
Wrapping it up
While the move to blockchain, smart contracts and SaaS may seem challenging at first, doing so can reduce the amount of transactional effort and expenses that come with traditional forms of data management.
The first step to making this a reality is adopting cutting-edge data strategies. The benefits of these strategies are two-fold – not only will they reduce operational expenses in the supply chain, but they will also make contractual errors and disputes a thing of the past. The ensuring positive results will be felt by all the participants in the supply chain, making the effort worth the while.