Re·sil·ience /rəˈzilyəns/ noun: the capacity to recover quickly from difficulties
One could argue that the past few years have been a test of resilience. But over two years into the pandemic and organizations are still reeling from continued market volatility and supply chain disruptions. Companies cannot afford to wait for supply chains to straighten themselves out. They have had to find ways to adapt and remain competitive. The issue is a big topic with executives and has forced many businesses to shift their focus towards simply maintaining business continuity just to make sure they can continue to survive and thrive.
One of the ways organizations can do this is to build in resiliency into their sales order management processes. We have assembled a few ways companies can do this.
1. A single source of data, a single source of truth
It cannot be emphasized enough that if you want to build resiliency into your organization, you must be able to access real-time data from every area of your company. You must have a single source of truth. Data exists in many locations within an organization and can often be disconnected, or siloed, from one another. Siloed information becomes a problem when organizations need to make critical, data-driven decisions and do not have all of the relevant information. The result is costly. Incomplete data can result in too much supply being ordered and wasted, increase in material costs, deadline delays – all of which impacts the bottom line and decreases customer relations. Your organization must have in place the practice of aggregating data from all of your organization’s various systems onto a single location. There are various ways to achieve this, but if the core of your organization is built upon a digital foundation such as a cloud-based ERP system like SAP, then aggregating that data into a central location will be achievable. One source of truth allows organizations to make faster, more accurate decisions.
2. Real-time inventory visibility across the supply chain
With so much volatility in the market right now, companies need to get a better handle of what is happening in their supply chain so they can quickly adapt and react to market changes. Access to available inventory, visibility to open orders, and visibility to transfer orders can be complex and difficult to see if your data is in different, disconnected locations. Another challenge organizations face is that their sales process often requires them to interact with a customer order over an extended period of time. A customer service rep can pick up additional materials and makes changes to an order continuously. If there are any disruptions to the supply chain, the seller has to look upstream into the supply chain to figure out how to source this item for their customer. That takes time and time is money.
Having visibility to the real-time, master data gives an organization the ability to see across the supply chain. It allows them to easily access information such as where a product is, when it will be available and what the lead time is to get it. Real-time inventory visibility gives an organization resilience to be able to better react to slow-downs in the supply chain and adjust quicker than their competitors.
3. Real-time product availability to simplify non-stock sourcing issues
In order to meet customer demand in a stock-shortage situation, many organizations resort what is referred to as “buffer stock” – ordering more material from a supplier to be able to drop ship that to their customers if need be. According to a “Future of Supply Chain” survey by Gartner Group, 21% of 1,339 respondents considered the availability of safety stock to be a top-three indicator of supply chain resiliency. The problem with this is that organizations now have to carry the extra cost for ordering more than they needed. With margins already thin for many distributors, this can greatly impact the bottom line.
By having access to the real-time master data allows organizations to look internally at alternate locations before placing an additional buffer order. Customer service reps can quickly see that there may be additional stock at another branch within the company that can be leveraged and consolidated into a single shipment directly to the customer. Having access to real-time data and product availability directly drives customer satisfaction, employee satisfaction and better inventory positions.
4. Agility of process
Finally, you cannot have resilience without agility. Agility enables resilience. It is what allows organizations to be able to act quickly to changing market environments and stay one step ahead. If an organization needs to implement a change quickly to their sales order process – or set up a different supplier that can provide a key part in a moment’s notice – they need to be able to implement those changes immediately. But the reality is that many distributors and wholesale suppliers have legacy systems that are not connected to one another. Trying to make a change across these disparate, disconnected systems is difficult and slow. Organizations who have standardized on a cloud-based digital core will be able to make system and process changes faster because they now have a unified set of channels talking to a unified set of data. Products such as DataXstream’s OMS+ access this real-time data and provide intelligent applications such as product customization, time-critical supplies, planned delivery, equipment rental, consulting services, recurring orders, alternate product recommendations, and trend analysis that are instrumental in helping wholesale distributors respond to changing market conditions.
So whether it is a war, a pandemic, or a natural disaster – events will continue to disrupt whole distributors and their suppliers across the globe. Organizations who have access to real-time master data are the ones who will weather these disruptions better.