The Secret to a More Fully Integrated Supply Chain

There’s no quick fix: get your team together, grab a white board and start planning


As a result, no one intervenes, time is saved, money is saved, brand reputation is preserved—the entire supply chain benefits.

The value of implementing a flexible, integrated supply chain is obvious. If it can lower your cost to handle an exception, imagine what it can do for your bottom line by handling thousands of packages this efficiently every day.

If you could automate rebates, charge backs and other shared services using a system such as this, would it not follow that you also could negotiate more favorable vendor terms? Certainly. A system as responsive as this would not only lower your cost to serve, it would improve your quality of service and separate you clearly from the competition.

The roadmap for success

So, what’s holding you back? Maybe you already have a hodgepodge of stand-alone systems entrenched and the thought of migrating is just too overwhelming to bear. Or, maybe you just acquired a company and the dust has yet to settle.

There are plenty of reasons not to act. But, if you begin now, you can get there sooner than you think—and at a lower overall expense.

The secret is in the planning. Instead of managing your IT assets in reactionary mode, plan pre-emptively to evolve to a more integrated solution over time. Gather your IT, marketing, operations, HR, warehouse, purchasing, transport and customer service executives—together with a few key vendors—and whiteboard what a totally integrated solution might look like.

Begin with the end in mind. Anticipate mergers and acquisitions. Expect growth spurts and downward trends. Ask for input. Explore the “what if’s.” Target your aging assets for accelerated integration. And always ask yourself: ‘What will yield the greatest value?’

As you plot your one-to-five-year IT strategy, consider how you can compress your disparate systems from 12 to eight to four—to one master ERP ecosystem over time.

If you have a vision of where you want to go, a roadmap detailing how to get there soon will emerge. The duct tape and bailing wire will fall away. And a new, streamlined, forward-looking model of your supply chain will begin to take shape, lifting your enterprise to new levels of profitability and success.

Doug Braun is the Chief Executive Officer of IBS, a provider of distribution resource management software, including ERP and WMS business applications for the wholesale, distribution and manufacturer/distributor markets.

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