3 Steps to Automating Forecast Collaboration Streamline Supply Chain Forecast Planning with Current Technology share this®
3 Steps to Automating Forecast Collaboration Assess the needs of your organization S ince its inception a century ago, the practice of Supply Chain Management has experienced several transformations, evolving from a purely administrative function to a critical strategic arm that largely determines an organization’s success in the current economy. Evaluate the tools Even if your company has implemented some available to automate your form of automation in your ordering or payment processes processes, chances are that you would still benefit from a new analysis of gaps, needs, and priorities. Are there ways to collaborate even smarter with your partners, and plan more effectively? Implement systems to integrate with your ERP & onboard your suppliers
Why Automate Now?In addition, the recent generation of rapid technological advancement and the transition toa global economy has mandated that companies To find out, establish a cross-functional projectkeep their competitive edge by taking advantage team comprised of representatives from theof tools that provide access to real-time data and areas that would be affected by the collaborationinstant collaboration with partners across the process change. At a minimum, this will likelyglobe. include members of Procurement (supplyAccording to a 2011 study by Aberdeen Group, up ordering process), Planning (forecasting), and ITto 49% of all companies were still using manual (implementation strategy).processes for forecast planning and collaboration.Is your organization one of these? If so, it’s time torealistically assess what your company can do toautomate processes in order to increase efficiency Step 1.and profits, as well as decrease downtime, delayed Assess the needs of your organization.shipments, and supply shortages
Questions to Ask:Do you trust your Material Resource Planning (MRP) Data? 1. To what extent does T my company use time- he first analysis your team should perform is Can you communicate consuming processes (email, to determine the accuracy of your MRP data. If with your suppliers in a spreadsheets, phone calls) the data pulled from your planning engine cannot system that integrates with to process & communicate be trusted, improving your automated forecasting your ERP? The abilities to orders? and collaboration capabilities will not produce send automatic notification the desired improvements in efficiency and profit emails and to communicate 2. How do I obtain information about my suppliers’ margins. supply issue details by using inventory? notes and attachments are Does your MRP contain the most current data? powerful methods of saving 3. Do I have visibility into their Once you’ve uncovered and remedied any issues current and projected stock? time, labor, and supply costs. with data accuracy from your MRP, the next step is Instead of manually entering to make sure that the data is pulled in real-time or 4. Can I collaborate with my data into multiple forms and near-real-time. Current MRP data generates accurate suppliers in my procurement relying on several phone calls system, using real-time order quantities, forecasting, and delivery date and emails to place orders, demand and forecast data? scheduling. buyers and suppliers have Do you have visibility into your suppliers’ a single point of reference 5. How tightly do I need to for all orders. Additionally, tie my forecasting and inventory? The ability to view your supplier’s procurement systems on-hand stock using real-time data allows you electronic records are together? to accurately predict supplier commitments and maintained for all orders abilities to meet your demand. You can use this and communication, so the 6. Do they need to be capability to tighten inventory margins and delivery “paper trail” is seamless. integrated in a common solution/product? schedules, mitigating the likelihood of a “Bullwhip Effect.”
Step2. Evaluate the tools available to automate your processes.O nce you have assessed the gaps in your forecast collaboration process and identifiedthe areas to be automated, it’s time to evaluate the existing planning engine and ERP. You’re looking for a solution that provides the degree of automation you need, and that also delivers an impressive ROI.available solutions that can integrate with your Questions to Ask: 7. Can my suppliers use the solution to upload CSV or XML files of on-hand inventory quantities 1. What automation solutions will integrate with my existing planning engine? 8. Can my suppliers send attachments, notes, and emails to maximize collboration efficiency? 2. What solution provides the functionality, service, and support my company needs, at a price that justifies the 9. How long does it take to implement the solution at ROI? supplier sites? How complicated is the learning curve? 3. What type of deployment option – On-Premise, Saas/ 10. What are the internal implementation costs? Cloud, or Hybrid – would be best for my organization’s IT structure? 4. What type of integration is best suited for my existing ERP – tight integration or loose integration using middleware? 5. Does the chosen selection support the requirements, languages, and IT capabilities of my suppliers? 6. Can my global suppliers access the solution via a secure web portal, EDI, or B2B?
Step 3. Implement systems to integrate with your ERP and onboard your supplies.O nce you have selected the right solution for your company’s automated forecasting processand existing systems/technology, the final phase Finally, prioritize and plan for the supplier onboarding process, using the expertise of both your internal IT professionals and the externalis determining the best implementation process. implementation team. It may be useful to createIdeally, your project team will be joined by external a phased plan for rolling out the new system toimplementation and solution specialists who will larger suppliers first, for example, or to those whocustomize the product to your specific needs. already share some of your systems. Determine your priorities and create a realistic timeline forMake sure you have all the internal resources you onboarding and training your suppliers.will need for the implementation process, includingany hardware or other IT requirements, as well asthe appropriate time and budget allocations. Plan Questions to Ask:to adequately train personnel who will be using thenew system, so that efficiency gains are realized 1. What external and internal resources do I need for the implementation process and team?from the outset. 2. Can supplier onboarding be prioritized and expedited?
And Finally...T aking the time to perform an in-depth assessment of your forecasting and collaborationprocesses to determine the best solution for • Reduced number of days of inventory in hand by 24% • Reduced lead timed by 28%improving efficiency and increasing automation • Improved on-time customer delivery by 41%can pay off big, especially if your company has How much improvement in excess inventory,gaps in communication processes or problems shipping times, ordering efficiency, and supplierwith MRP data accuracy. According to the 2011 communication could your company realize byAberdeen study, a US-based consumer goods deploying a solution that works with your existingcompany achieved the following improvements by systems to maximize your capabilities?implementing an automated solution:Endnotes1 Ericson, Carrie and Rycraft, Simon. “The Evolution of Supply Management.” Supply Chain Management Review. September/October 2011. 48-49.2 Aberdeen Group. “Globalization: Linking Supply Chain Transformation to the Profit and Loss Statement.” Sep 2011.3 TAKE Solutions, Inc. “Mitigating the Bullwhip Effect: Demand Collaboration Maximizes Efficiency throughout the Supply Chain.” 2012.4 TAKE Solutions, Inc. “Exploring Deployment Options for Supply Chain Collaboration and Enterprise Solutions.” 2012.5 TAKE Solutions, Inc. “Enterprise System Integration for Supply Chain Technology.” 2012.
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