Developing a Successful Supply Chain Collaboration Program

Data reliability and cloud-based synchronization allows retailers, distributors and manufacturers to efficiently collaborate with a number of business partners.

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Today we see retailers, distributors and manufacturers implementing collaborative initiatives within the supply chain with an increasing number of business partners. So, how do they do it? By leveraging two things: data reliability and cloud-based end-to-end supply chain synchronization capabilities. 

In order to understand your data, it is important to ensure your data is reliable. Reliable data is not only essential to receiving insights and analytics, but is also needed to trigger timely actions to adapt to day-to-day changes.   

In addition, cloud-based technology provides increased visibility into the supply chain—making data available anytime, anywhere. It also enables different entities with different systems to connect with no need for heavy and cumbersome system implementations at any touchpoint of the supply chain. 

With data reliability and cloud-based synchronization capabilities, manufacturers are able to develop a stronger, more collaborative relationship with its partners. These are some of the keys  to a successful supply chain collaboration (SCC) program. 

Establishing Relationships

Two important aspects of developing a SCC program are trust and commitment between all parties in order to create a mutually profitable relationship. Sponsorship from executives at each company need to be aligned in terms of the strategic relationship in order for there to be buy-in for the program.  In addition to your partner relationships, having a trusted service provider is important to the success of a SCC program and benefits both the manufacturer and retailers. 

Planning Your Program

Involving your supply chain management (SCM) solution service provider during the planning phase benefits all parties. Service providers have seen many different programs, from both the manufacturer and retailer side. This means they can share general best practices, as well as concepts and processes that would enable you to reach your program’s specific goals.

During the planning phase, governance procedures should be determined in order to ensure all data is well-reported and measured, creating transparency into the program and its results. To determine if a SCC program is successful, goals should be clear and focused on serving the consumer better, which in turn increases sales. It is important to make sure that all parties have a clear understanding of each part of the plan—from profit sharing to the amount of space the supplier is responsible to stock within a store. 

Communicating Effectively

Many companies tend to use the same terms with different definitions. For example, different retailers may have different definitions of “inventory.” The term inventory for one retailer might be what is sitting there in their stores, while for another, inventory is what is at the distribution center or has already been ordered. Managing translations between multiple partners is often difficult, so service providers will often establish a middle ground to streamline processes so that the manufacturer and retailer can communicate effectively.  

Utilizing Technical Capabilities

It is important to integrate and harmonize data to ensure that all parties are looking at the same data to create a more transparent and reliable supply chain. It also is essential to have a cloud-based SCM solution that has the ability to gather, interpret and present the data from multiple systems in a way that is understandable by all parties involved in the supply chain. 

SCC gives companies the ability to respond fatser to what is happening at the store or distribution center level. This provides the end consumer with optimum service, while cutting down on excess inventory and out of stocks, leading to increased customer satisfaction and increased revenue. While the concept of supply chain collaboration has existed for years, now is the perfect time for manufacturers and retailers to take advantage of its benefits. Data is more reliable, which means companies can apply automated algorithms and implement machine learning applications to improve their business. In addition, with cloud-based technology, data is available anytime, anywhere, enabling connectivity throughout the supply chain.

Gilson Torii, chief operating officer, Neogrid North America, has more than 13 years of experience in the information technology and supply chain management industries. In his role as COO, he provides the leadership, management and vision to ensure Neogrid continues to succeed in the North American market.

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