What's the single biggest challenge of supply chain management? Well, it depends on your view of the business. Webalo believes it's the end to end visibility of the supply chain--in other words, understanding the cause and effect of activities that may occur to impact supply chain performance: whether it's insufficient incoming supply, unexpected performance within manufacturing (low yields, quality issues, equipment downtime) or problems downstream (within the warehouse or in transportation--either orders not being delivered, or incorrect orders being shipped).
There are different enterprise software systems that operate within a supply chain, each performing important functions, such as order management, work management, purchasing, etc. But most of these systems operate in a silo (some say, a vacuum) so there isn't the necessary visibility between these systems of record. Most companies don't have a way of easily accessing the data stored between these systems without a lot of coding, IT support and sometimes with extensive systems consulting. It's a daunting task, leaving most companies to simply live with the systems they have and try to add some visualization that gives them a glance at the status of activities such as orders, shipments and product quality.
Here are some recommended ways in which companies can overcome their 'silo' of information:
- Map out your process to understand which systems are managing which functions within your supply chain. This will help you to understand where the break points may be, and where there are opportunities for improvement.
- Invest in strategic software that allows you to manage workflow between people and systems; the automation will ensure that responses to events happen the same way, every time. That way, you can start to standardize your processes.
- Consider adding software that gives you overall supply chain visibility. There are different products available, depending upon what you determine is your greatest need (incoming, production, or shipping). The critical aspect of #3 is to understand how this new software can integrate with existing off the shelf, legacy and/or custom applications that you may now have in your facility. Select a product that allows you to easily (with little coding) integrate these applications--that will give you the visibility you need. This is where Webalo can help: by bringing a 'single pane of glass' visibility to your processes, manage your workflows, and optimize your overall supply chain operations.