Software can play an important part in improving supply chain processes. However, taking on new technology generally brings with it some level of risk, especially if it challenges existing processes and business culture.
Common problems in implementation of supply chain software
Challenges with implementation of new software commonly include:
- suppliers and partners unwilling to compromise
- staff struggling to adjust to new processes and tools
- lack of practice and training before implementation
- difficulties with communication internally and externally
- customers concerns, issues and poor experience
To avoid these risks, you should consult, negotiate and communicate with all members of the supply chain before the new system goes live.
Success factors for new software implementation
As a first step, consult with both your suppliers and your customers. Some businesses may not be used to sharing the volume of information that a supply chain software is capable of transferring. Customers may also highlight existing problems with your current system, and suggest ways to improve it, removing the need to invest in new software.
Cultural change and better information sharing can address many common supply chain issues. For example, you can negotiate agreements with customers and suppliers. These make a general framework to cover multiple purchases, allowing for products to be ordered or cancelled as and when needed without needing individual purchase contracts. You may then identify changes to quantities, intervals and delivery patterns that benefit all parties.
You can share information between supply chain partners on:
- inventory levels
- demand forecasts
- customer orders
- delivery information
Within the organisation, changes to purchasing processes can transform supply chain performance. Keeping stock to a minimum, or availability of material at an optimum level, can reduce costs and improve performance, avoiding the need to implement new software.
Before you decide to roll out new supply chain technology, make sure that you have valid reasons to use supply chain software.