Supply chain management is an essential component of any business, and disruptions can have far-reaching consequences for operations and profitability.
Supply chain disruptions continue to impact businesses of all sizes, but numerous polls show that small businesses are particularly affected by them. The ongoing conflict between Russia and Ukraine, as well as the recent COVID-19 lockdowns in China, have exacerbated the situation in the global supply chain.
In this week’s Let’s Talk, we asked industry experts to share their perspectives and best practices for dealing with supply chain disruptions.
Our experts discussed various effective techniques for overcoming supply chain challenges and keeping your business running smoothly, from forecasting and inventory management to collaboration and transparency.
Dr Deborah Pike, Principal Supply Chain Solutions Consultant, Anaplan
“To navigate ongoing supply chain disruptions, organisations can thrive by having clear and concise visibility across the entire network, affording them the ability to make quick decisions, by pulling on the right levers to avoid delays or unplanned costs due to external, or even internal factors. This is best achieved by implementing reliable cloud-based platforms:
- The first step to supply chain planning is making sure all teams are on the same page. This is where connected planning comes in. By connecting stakeholders through access to a single decision making platform, they can more easily align on how best to tackle supply chain challenges, and remove departmental siloes.
- Businesses should also utilise “what-if” scenario modelling to allow for quicker and more thoughtful responses to sudden changes. This will help businesses avoid the fallout from preventable shortages and demand shifts, and drive business resilience.
“Once these steps have been implemented, companies will be better equipped to respond to rapid changes in demand and supply. With supply chain troubles looking to continue into the new year, it’s important to stay one step ahead of the curve at all times.”
Adem Adil, Head of Digital Supply Chain, ANZ, SAP
“In an increasingly volatile business and geo-political environment across the world, procurement and supply chain efficiency has become a critical focus area. However, this has also led to the emergence of multiple supply chain problems that businesses are only too familiar with post-pandemic.
“Supply chain disruptions can be caused due to multiple factors such as labour and material shortages and lack of visibility, to name a few.
“Businesses can now creatively navigate these challenges by adopting a risk-based approach. By actively monitoring supply chain flows, modelling consequences of disruption of these flows and proactively evaluating scenarios based on predictive outcomes, industry leaders can be prepared for the next disruption.
“The adoption of technology should also extend to decision-making, especially with tools like predictive analytics, scenario management, collaboration platforms, and automation. Leveraging data to proactively drive actionable insights will give organisations more visibility across their supply chain functions and consequently drive faster and more efficient business growth.
“In the years to come, industry leaders will be those organisations that have planned for disruption and can swiftly adapt with confidence to turn disruption into opportunity. Resilient, sustainable and adaptable supply chains of the future will be driven on this risk-based approach.”
Neil Boulton, Client Partner, Publicis Sapient
“Supply chain issues have and will continue to impact organisations well into 2023. A solution that can help overcome this is Supply Chain Control Towers which help businesses remain resilient and enable optimisation and de-risking of supply. They provide visibility and predictability into the supply chain across vendors, transport providers, manufacturers, distribution, stores, and dealers.
“Establishing control towers (digital twin) gives full visibility in real-time – into, for example, when each shipment will arrive. They provide insights that can impact delivery and disrupt operations, such as unexpected weather, unforeseen global events, to changes in consumer buying behaviour. Data from public domains and satellite imagery enable proactive risk mitigation.
“Supply Chain Control Towers update organisations on potential delays and effects and highlight how the business can mitigate the impact. Real-time visibility helps organisations react to circumstances quickly by allowing them to promise and shift inventory across the network and allocate or ration them, depending upon individual scenarios.”
Owen Keates, Industry Executive Asia-Pacific Manufacturing Practice, Hitachi Vantara
“When it comes to supply chains, I prefer the term “new reality” versus new normal. There will be nothing “normal” about supply chains as businesses face the coming years. The new reality is that every aspect of the supply chain must be examined in detail to ensure it is resilient to ever-present shocks in supply, distribution, and demand. Supply chain considerations must become central to business strategy. The companies that have analysed their supply chains’ flexibility and adaptability, understood the potential risks, and built-in the appropriate resilience are the ones that will have the best chance of managing effectively through future disruption.
- Define what (and who) you’ll need to get it done. A cross-functional team must handle this versus piling this on top of the duties of those who are managing the day-to-day supply chain operation.
- Lay the digital foundation to enable visibility. You need visibility of the end-to-end supply chains and ideally you can help the rest of the business understand the complexity of the supply chain modernisation and management job at hand.
- Enable your supply chain team with and network optimisation solutions, ie. practical tools for visibility, modelling, digital twins and risk management.”
Kristyn Wallace, Vice President APJ, Emarsys
“Last year, the disruption of the global supply chain caused 30 percent of Australians to be concerned that their purchases wouldn’t arrive on time for Christmas. To combat last year’s consumer sentiment, Australia Post recently announced it will start Saturday deliveries to support the peak holiday shopping period. While this proactive approach is necessary to address supply chain issues on the delivery side, retailers and brands need to be just as prepared for the influx of sales heading their way.
“To address foreseeable supply chain problems, retailers and brands need to overcommunicate to their customers during the holiday period. Brands sharing frequent updates with customers regarding promotions, “order has shipped” notifications, or “track your parcel” links, can appeal to consumer loyalty and alleviate their delivery concerns. In fact, Emarsys’ Customer Loyalty Index 2022 found that 28 percent of Australians are loyal to retailers because they feel valued in the brand’s communications and engagements with them.
“While addressing delays in supply chain issues may not be fixable on the retailer’s end, offering information to the customer, whether it be an email or SMS message, can build trust between brand and customer, and alleviate the negative impact on perception around supply chain problems.”
Mark Fioretto, Area Vice President and Managing Director, ANZ, UiPath
“There are three key steps organisations can take to achieve a more resilient and proactive supply chain:
- Build a data-rich framework that delivers accurate information when and where it’s needed to optimise supply chain planning. This involves capturing both structured and unstructured data across multiple sources and formats, and making it useable and actionable in real time. A data-rich foundation provides the single, reliable source of truth that supply chains need to evaluate suppliers, coordinate processes, and anticipate bottlenecks.
- Automate processes. Ensuring a reliable workflow depends on seamless processes. Manually completing administrative processes takes people a lot of time to complete and can be error-prone, which drives up costs and eats into margins, while automation generates operational and cost efficiencies, and reliably delivers seamless workflows.
- Take the next step and adopt end-to-end automation to create a future-ready supply chain that can continually be proactive, predictable, flexible and scalable to meet constantly changing market needs. Supply chain professionals spend a lot of time on repetitive, rules-based tasks. When supply chains get bogged down, it can slow entire economies. Automation is key to building the supply chain of the future that can also keep pace with technological changes.”
Ryan Williams, Director, Australian Centre for Business Growth
“Many businesses have faced challenges with their supply chain over the past two years, fuelled by logistics difficulties, international border closures and surging customer demand. Some businesses have been more successful at managing the supply chain challenges than others, largely by focusing on three key ‘basics’:
- Make sure that supply terms are promptly adhered to. Businesses who pay on time, manage the receiving process efficiently and who have taken the time to nurture their key supplier relationships have had better results. Slow payers, disorganised logistics and planning and transactional relationships (versus a partnership approach) have not fared as well during this cycle.
- Great demand forecasting. Understanding that the pre-Covid trend towards ‘just in time’ stock is no longer viable, some businesses have increased order size. This has three benefits – locking in pricing to minimise fluctuations; ensuring stock readiness to meet demand (which in turn means happier customers or better customer acquisition); and better pricing on stock due to volume discounts (which means better margins or stronger customer acquisition because retail prices haven’t had to increase to deal with supply-side price escalation).
- Excellent cash flow management and prioritisation. With different areas of a business competing for cash, businesses who have managed well through the supply crunch have diverted cash out of other areas (e.g. delaying a new hire, purchasing new machinery or property, or replacing an old vehicle) to leverage supply opportunities, improve payment terms to guarantee supply, ordering in additional stock etc.
“All businesses are fundamentally engines that deliver a product or service to a customer who wants those goods or services. Managing the supply chain well is critical to ensure that customers continue to have access to those goods or services – having products on shelves is a key competitive advantage when a customer is in the market. Significant growth can come from being flexible during periods of constrained supply.”
Paul Soong, Regional Director ANZ, e2open
“Industry leaders will need to ramp up their risk-mitigation plans, focus on their logistics strategy and invest in optimal technology to ensure their supply chains are capable of enduring the unpredictably complex issues that may come their way. It is essential that these supply chains focus on long-term processes instead of getting through the peak periods which will allow businesses to align their strategies with innovation and resilience. This ensures they are anticipating potential problems and have a successful strategy in place to minimise impact and mitigate costs.
“By focusing on long-term processes, logistics strategy and investing in technology, supply chains can reimagine logistics operations on a new level and tailor inventory and transportation strategies to navigate difficult landscapes to continuously provide stellar customer service.
“It is also just as crucial to build and maintain relationships with global partners to orchestrate better movements of goods especially in today’s unpredictable climate.”
Ray Greenwood, Manager: Pre-Sales Support, ANZ, SAS
“Planning to perfectly meet demand without waste has been a challenge since the first farmer decided how many carts they should haul to market. In today’s fast paced, complex environment with sophisticated interdependencies and increasing levels of disruption throughout the supply chain, planners need systems that can help them not only accurately anticipate demand in near real time but also take action to adjust in line with fluctuations or unexpected events with a high degree of agility.
“Agility increases as the accuracy and timeliness of information improves, and this requires support for more advanced analytics and better integrated systems. Modernising from consensus driven planning processes and shifting to more dynamic processes which are capable of adapting quickly to changes in pricing, promotions, demand patterns or other external factors, will prove key to maturing demand management practices. In turn, this will improve competitiveness as new channels, products and approaches present opportunities for those who prove to be agile enough.”
Matthew Addley, Industry Strategist – Manufacturing, Infor
“The ongoing semiconductor and chip shortage has turned the spotlight on supply chain vulnerabilities and its impact on everyday commodities – from mobile phones to automobiles. Australian manufacturers can build resilience to navigate future supply chain disruptions by:
- Leveraging data insights and data-driven processes to help adapt to sudden changes. Modern cloud-deployed ERP solutions are invaluable to capture and track data throughout an organisation.
- Optimising supply chain agility through a connected supply chain with a single view of orders, shipments, and inventory and shared digital processes is critical to build agility to respond to disruptions quickly and efficiently.
- Exploring new partnerships for a diversified approach to build a resilient network around sourcing, manufacturing and distribution.
- Building regional sourcing hubs to have more agile supplier networks that can help manufacturers meet their production targets and sustainability ambitions.
- Leveraging automation by investing in fully standardised, digital processes can help manufacturers operate with far less resources and save costs.”
Peter Philipp, General Manager ANZ, Neo4j
“When faced with an emergency, such as a blocked shipping route or closed port, manufacturers need to know what other options are available and divert to them quickly. But the vast complexity of global supply chains makes them very difficult to visualise.
“One solution is a graph database. This represents all the different elements of the supply chain – products, suppliers and facilities, and the relationships between them – as nodes and links. It creates a “digital twin” which can be used to simulate different scenarios and plan contingencies.
“A manufacturer can then make a complex query such as: ‘If supplies of component Y are affected by delays, what other suppliers are there, and how quickly can they ship replacements?’
“By mapping networks and potential risks, a much more proactive approach can be taken to risk management.”
Callan Mantell, Vice President JAPAC, Oracle Construction and Engineering
“Like in many other industries, supply chain issues in construction and engineering are substantially impacting schedules and costs. In addition, the hefty cost of materials used for construction projects is forcing owners to rethink how they manage materials.
“According to 2022 Zippia research, only 6% of companies report full visibility on their supply chain, while 69% of companies do not have total visibility. We are seeing a significant shift as businesses look to the latest in construction technology, like the Smart Construction Platform, to gain supply chain visibility, and help diagnose and understand disruptions.
“These technologies can provide the backbone for owners and delivery team’s, creating a vital single source of truth that help manage uncertainty by controlling time, cost, safety, quality, and more. By ensuring that all stakeholders of a project are seeing the most up-to-date information and leveraging forward-looking insights through predictive analytics, teams can respond in a more timely and collaborative manner than ever before possible.”
Gerald Faust, Managing Director and CEO, Asia Pacific and Middle East, SNP Group
“Supply chains are under more pressure than ever before, and many organisations are feeling the strain. Labour shortages, equipment availability, and the ripple effect of global bottlenecks all drive delays, and organisations must find ways to lessen the impact by driving enterprise mobility and leveraging intelligent analytics.
“By investing in digital, data-driven technologies that prioritise data integrity and adopting near-real-time data analytics capabilities that provide end-to-end transparency, organisations can streamline business processes, improve customer confidence, and reduce the risk of costly delays. This single source of truth can provide detailed, secure insights on intercompany and customer value chains. With end-to-end global bills of materials giving a clearer view of group costs and profitability, organisations can meet global statutory regulations and compliance requirements, reducing the risk of costly delays.
“Ultimately, harnessing the power of smart data and robust analytics will allow organisations to embed mobility and resilience from the top down to better combat the impact of supply chain issues. Embedding live data analysis and best practice processes across the business, decision-makers can gain complete visibility of business and customer activities with 360-degree data product view, empowering them to make faster, more accurate decisions.”
Sarah James, ANZ Marketing Manager, Teletrac Navman
“Solving supply chain woes: Save money and improve efficiency with data.
“Supply chain has been dramatically affected in recent months.
“Telematics data helps you by allowing you to understand the costs at each stage of your project and by helping you manage operations effectively.
“The real-time data gathered through telematics lets you see where and how assets are used and anticipate potential problems to deliver a smoother workflow.
“A GPS fleet management system also adds a level of transparency, as businesses can accurately track staff time and update customers.
With over a million trucks on Australia’s roads, the right technology can help fast-track your business growth by enabling you to understand challenges, see the opportunities available, and have the insights to overcome issues before they even arise.
“It’s also important to consider the human factor – the people using this technology and its capabilities to help them be safer on the roads, be aware of conditions and be protected in times of trouble”
Sean Wiles, Partner, McGrathNicol Advisory
“The supply chain challenges faced by businesses during COVID were largely concentrated around procurement, with reduced availability of goods / materials, bottlenecks at origin due to freight issues, and higher sourcing costs more generally. More recently, this has shifted downstream to issues at destination, including detention and demurrage, lower warehouse capacity, local driver shortages, and variable demand meaning that businesses are carrying an increased inventory load. The McGrathNicol Advisory Working Capital Report for 2022 showed that the average inventory cycle (or DIO) increased by 11.9 days, with ASX-listed businesses in the Retail, Agriculture, Building Products and Food & Beverage sectors all holding more than 100 days’ worth of inventory in 2022.
“In 2023, addressing supply chain challenges will require sales, operations, finance, and procurement teams to work closely together, with integrated planning, evaluation of sourcing options, and better use of technology and dashboards to accelerate reaction times. More strategically, management teams will need to elevate counterparty risk management, by ensuring that they know their suppliers and their suppliers’ suppliers, seek increased flexibility in contractual arrangements, and look at partnering with other businesses (even competitors) to leverage freight and warehousing capacity.”
Guillaume Deront, General Manager, Australia, ShipBob
“We are in the midst of an economic downturn that will continue to impact the supply chain industry in 2023. Ecommerce brands need to safeguard increasingly eroding margins – and increasing costs and labour shortages – whilst continuing to invest in strategic growth channels.
“To run a capital-efficient business in 2023, brands should have better control of demand planning and inventory forecasting, and strive for best-in-class fulfilment execution.
“To start the new year with good resolutions, we recommend three key areas of focus:
Invest in technology to drive better demand and inventory management, and added services for an optimal customer experience.
Drive ‘last-mile’ efficiencies through a distributed inventory network to get products closer to end consumers.
Break into new markets to grow new audiences, increase top line revenue, and mitigate stagnant inventory.
“ShipBob’s 2022 State of Fulfilment Report found 56% of brands planned to expand cross-border offerings and 32% planned to start physically fulfilling orders in new countries.
“Being a global logistics company with 40+ fulfilment centres in six of the biggest ecommerce markets, we’ve seen Australian brands ship more from across the globe, in particular in North America and Europe, to fulfil domestically for more consumers and reducing shipping costs and transit times.”
John Fargher, Co-Founder and Chief Revenue Officer, AgriWebb
“The role of technology in navigating complex supply chains has been proven across a range of industries. For historically ‘pen & paper’ powered industries like agriculture, communication and collaboration throughout the supply chain can be convoluted and riddled with gaps. In 2023, the industry should embrace tech capabilities that can help both individual farmers and supply chain collaborators transcend historical issues.
“While some may take an “ain’t broke, don’t fix it” approach to more traditional data management practices, many agriculture organisations lack visibility across the supply chain because these same practices are not conducive to sharing. It’s also challenging to ensure that every stakeholder is following standardised data collection practices. By combining external information with internal datasets, producers and customers can work collaboratively to understand larger, long-term trends for improved business planning. For example, producers and supermarkets can prepare more proactively for natural disasters which have ongoing impacts on entire supply chains, potentially preventing produce from reaching the family dinner table.
“Transparency at all points of the supply chain is also particularly important as farmers face intensifying media scrutiny. Consumer pressure continues to impact all agriculture supply chain participants, with shifting purchase patterns impacting profitability. Producers who record and share data that validates environmental and animal welfare will be in the box seat to match the expectations of consumers increasingly invested in the quality and sustainability of Australian produce.”
Jonathan Ryan, Head of ANZ Region, Infobip
“Keeping customers informed through omnichannel communication.
“Enhance communications and reduce supply chain challenges by connecting with your customers anywhere through an omnichannel strategy. Omnichannel solves consumer issues, supply woes and keeps both the customer and business informed via a fully integrated contact centre, marketing automation, and chatbot building solutions powered by a customer data platform.
“By controlling the entire technology stack, you dynamically optimise your message journey to offer faster, more secure, and more reliable connections to your customers. All with complete transparency.
“Achieve deeper customer engagement across the widest selection of local and global channels, including: SMS, RCS, WhatsApp, voice, video, email and the most popular chat apps to foster loyal customers and reach them in their most used platforms.
“Integrate any communication channel or module into your business workflows by using Infobip’s flexible and programmable API stack.
“By equipping a correct omnichannel strategy, you are poised to accelerate your customer building and retention. This end-to-end execution allows for your business to identify and solve potential issues relating to customer dissatisfaction and supply chain woes.”
Sascha Ambrose, Tableau ANZ Country Manager and AVP, Salesforce
“Businesses are facing some of the worst supply chain disruptions of the past 50 years, thanks to the lingering effects of the pandemic and ongoing geopolitical uncertainties.
“To predict and tackle issues as they arise, businesses need access to a clear and real-time overview of all the data related to the supply chain. However, only a small fraction of businesses currently have this visibility.
“Real-time data analysis is critical to keep track of inventory and optimise existing processes. For example, it can help identify potential risks, reveal cost savings and better manage demand without impacting the bottom line.
“With the support of a data analytics platform like Tableau, businesses can empower staff with the insights needed to make informed decisions. Tableau can also seamlessly integrate with Salesforce CRM capabilities to improve forecasting, risk management and supplier evaluation.
“Businesses shouldn’t wait to see supply chain issues before they take action, but instead harness the power of data to identify risks and pivot faster.”
Leigh Williams, Founder and Managing Director, eStore Logistics
“Not long ago, retailers were struggling with bare shelves brought-up by global supply chain bottlenecks and unprecedented consumer demand fuelled by COVID-19 lockdowns. Now, as consumer spending habits shift, many retailers are dealing with the exact opposite problem: excess inventory. At the same time, retailers have nowhere to store this inventory, with industrial and logistics vacancies at record lows in Australia.
“To reduce friction in supply chains, retailers must forecast all drivers of demand including in-store purchases, online fulfilment, and returns for every SKU. Demand planning software is one way to tackle supply chain issues, helping retailers pull in data across POS, inventory, product lifecycle and production lead times, as well external demand signals such as seasonality, inflation, interest rates and other market conditions.
“Retailers should also consider outsourcing warehousing and order fulfilment requirements to a third-party ecommerce fulfilment provider. Third-party fulfilment providers can not only improve delivery times and lower distribution costs, but also help retailers to effectively manage stock locations and scale the volume of inventory quickly and efficiently as needed. This means more accurate inventory forecasting and tracking, less time managing stock and more time delivering an exceptional customer experience.”
Wai King Wong, Regional Director, Oceania, Axis Communications
“Building a robust global supply chain strategy requires diligent research and planning. As companies innovate and create new products and solutions, this requires extremely close liaison between R&D teams and supply chain teams. By collaborating, it ensures companies have greater foresight over products in development and have sufficient lead time to source the best component suppliers available.
“When companies have sufficient lead time, they can be more rigorous in selecting and evaluating suppliers which is essential to having confidence that they meet certain standards. In addition, the extra time allows for the auditing of various aspects of a supplier such as disposal of waste and where raw materials come from, to ensure ESG standards.
“In circumstances where suppliers meet most but not all of our selection criteria, this then gives time to work with them and improve those aspects that are currently holding them back rather than starting the sourcing process again. This ensures the right suppliers are selected, reducing the potential for supply chain disruptions.”
Marcus McNamara, Head of APAC, Sana Commerce
“We’re strong believers in supply chain resilience through digital transformation, and we’ve seen this time and again with customers who wish to adopt e-commerce but aren’t sure where to get started.
“We recommend a three-prong approach for strengthening supply chain resilience: start by optimising internal processes, then move to strengthening key relationships, and finally, ensure you’re leveraging data available to make strategic business decisions.
“An integrated e-commerce solution is a natural fit for B2B organisations dealing with supply chain issues. That’s because a connection to ERP makes it easy to execute all three of the above strategies. You can optimise processes, access insightful data on your web store, and strengthen relationships by staying transparent about stock levels and shipping delays.
“These are essential components of keeping both your customers and staff feeling secure at a time where confusion and misinformation is more the norm.”
Mick McCluney, Technical Director ANZ, Trend Micro
“As enterprises continue to invest in digital transformation initiatives, it has not only empowered them with the technology to streamline their operations, but has also made them an attractive target for cyber attacks. Now more than ever, malicious groups are capitalising on firms’ oversight of cyber risks associated with cloud-based technologies – especially those used within their supply chains. These attacks on the supply chain leverage poorly defended access vectors and offer attackers a unique opportunity to infect many organisations with ransomware through a single supplier. Trend Micro recently found ransomware to be present in 25% of data breaches, noting a 13% year-on-year increase.
“This increased reliance on cloud-based technologies means it is important for firms to invest in supply chain security as well as back-end infrastructure. There isn’t a one-size-fits-all approach to minimise cyber risks, however, implementing best practices can help enterprises create a safer supply chain. Supply chains are too often nebulous and ill-defined. The key is implementing cybersecurity platforms to gain a comprehensive understanding of your supply chain, and using this data to mitigate threats before they come to fruition.”
Walter Scremin, CEO, Ontime Delivery Solutions
“Delivery transport is one of the most stubbornly expensive parts of the supply chain – a top five business cost for companies which rely on deliveries. But it’s also an area where business has some control to improve their efficiency, provided they take the following steps:
- Expose the hidden costs: Delivery transport costs can easily blow out, with many hidden costs a real problem – for example, every day a delivery vehicle is not being used it is costing you. How much exactly? It depends. A good first step is an honest, impartial audit to expose the full costs of your transport solution.
- Strive for flexibility: Flexible, responsive logistics is key – achieving this comes down to the ability and mix of your suppliers. Don’t be afraid to experiment along the way to find the right structure for you.
- Track and measure your performance: Efficiency can be maintained by using telematics technology to track and measure performance across your supply chain – and it’s most effective when you have the flexibility to make changes quickly.”
Lachlan Grant, CEO, Vital Addition
“The pandemic has really obstructed the supply chain issue across multiple industries, and while there may be some things that you can’t control, you can make adjustments to minimise the impact on your business now, and move forward.
- Automate. Do some housekeeping of the tools you are using. Switching to the best technology for your business can make for better inventory tracking, planning and cutting costs. Planning and automating can also mean being first in line for suppliers, minimising repeat ordering, enhancing stock and people management, and supporting long-term scalability.
- Explore. Relationships with current suppliers don’t need to be set in stone, neither do the goods and services that you procure. Take the time to form new relationships and source similar or like products elsewhere. You’ll feel better about your decisions, and keep your partners honest.
- Data. Not just your own, but production, supplier and delivery data. Understanding the big picture can help you avoid gridlock, and inform your options.
“Open communication with your clients about the obstructions and your solutions are a good idea too. It promotes trust and can alleviate headaches and maintain relationships.”
Henry Brunekreef, Regional Vice President, Solution Delivery, ANZ, Japan and China, Coupa
- “Build dynamic supply chain design capabilities and increase optionality. When the supply chain is disrupted, do you know your alternative options to retain service at an understood cost to serve across your end to end supply chain? As the pace and frequency of disruptions intensify, the ability to update models and run scenarios, Digital Twin capabilities and ‘Continuous Supply Chain Optimisation’ are more important than ever.
- Be faster than competitors. As disruptions strike, being the fastest to go to market for spot buying available capacity is critical. Ensure the technology and process foundation is in place for dynamic sourcing.
- Extend Business Continuity Planning to your supply chain. Supply chain digital models must be stress tested for extreme disruptions.
- Balance the desire to have an inventory buffer to offset disruptions, with plans for shifting that inventory in a timely manner to ensure there isn’t a significant amount of working capital locked up in the warehouse.
- Ensure that business has visibility across business spend – procurement, accounts payable, staffing – for effective budget, contract and inventory management.
- Invest in supply chain tech, people and processes to design better supply chains plus improve supplier collaboration and relationships.”
Matthew Thomson, Senior Vice President, Kofax
“Navigating supply chain issues? Automation holds the key.
“Supply chains worldwide are facing endless bottlenecks, skills shortages and natural disasters are affecting transport systems, and the lack of supplies can grind operations to a halt.
“While businesses tend to focus on the physical and logistical aspects of the supply chain, those looking to master supply and demand and ride out ongoing turbulence can’t afford to overlook internal blind spots.
“So, how can you take back control and transform financial processes? The answer lies in automation technology, providing real-time, accurate supply chain information.
“Intelligent Automation (IA) is more than automating manual tasks; it offers a continual process of improvement rather than single-point solutions. Business users can simply take control and make data-backed changes to create a better work process.
“Automating digital workflows also helps when staff availability is low, keeping processes moving and customers updated on order progress.
“With better insight into how your business spends money, you can work more efficiently with procurement and provide detailed and reliable data for order placement.
“Kofax technology can help organisations minimise the impact of both supply chain and staffing problems, getting products and services to customers faster and improving profits.”
Michael Judge, Head of Australia and New Zealand, OFX
“Supply chain pandemic aftershocks continue to be felt by many businesses confronting the imbalance between supply and demand. Not to mention the difficulty of attempting to navigate shipping delays, and currency fluctuations when importing goods and services.
“Having greater certainty over offshore expenses by limiting exposure to currency fluctuations (particularly with the seesawing of the USD against the AUD) can ensure businesses can keep costs in budget without needing to tighten margins or pass on costs to customers.
“To help minimise your business’s vulnerability to international supply chain uncertainty, here are some tips to help keep costs in budget:
- Take currency risk out of the equation; an OFX Global Currency Account, for example, gives you access to nine virtual currency accounts, allowing you to make and receive payments in local currencies and link up to marketplaces in the country you’re selling into.
- Hedging tools, such as Limit Orders, allow you to set a target rate without watching the markets, helping you stay in budget by minimising currency exposure and assisting with long-term financial planning.
- Engaging with an FX specialist can help you understand how currency fluctuations and the flow-on effects of supply chain problems on your overseas costs impact your business, whilst helping you identify ways to stay ahead in the market.”
Lee Scott, General Manager, Strategic Procurement, Leading Edge Retail
“When everything is going well, the supply chain is like a well-oiled machine for small retailers. A customer goes into the store, finds a product, chooses the colour, size, and brand and buys the item off the shelf. When online shopping, the customer places the order on the e-commerce store and receives a delivery usually within a few days.
“But when it’s disrupted by events like floods, fires, freight delays or events like the Covid-19 global pandemic, the availability and consistent supply of items is suddenly severely impacted.
“Supply disruptions happen all the time, usually only causing small inconveniences. By having a detailed plan with alternative supply solutions, diversification and good cash flow, you can mitigate the impacts on your small retail business even during unprecedented times.
“Here are six things you need to consider in planning for supply chain disruptions:
- Have your emergency plan documented. Scenarios and options detailed.
- Evaluate the market. Talk to suppliers, partners, and other businesses.
- Build up your stock inventory.
- Identify backup and alternative supplier options.
- Diversify your suppliers and source from different regions, states, or countries.
- Partner with a reliable logistics company and look at alternative options.”
Abhimanyu Prabhavalkar, CTO, Stemly
“Organisations need to bridge decision-making across their supply chain operations, finance, and sustainability functions to manage demand volatility and supply constraints, as well as production scheduling and distribution. The need for available trustworthy real-time data is mission critical.
“As a fast-growing SaaS (software as a service) company, Stemly has built an enterprise decision intelligence platform to help executives make better and faster decisions by decoding data science to automate forecasting and optimization for timely information. An essential aspect of its platform is the ML-based insights it provides. However, ML needs data, which is why data integration – the ability to connect to a variety of data sources, ingest that data in not only batch, but real-time – is critical.
“This is why we leverage SnapLogic to rapidly ingest data in a quality manner by transforming and cleaning the data before it comes into our data lake. With SnapLogic, we have the ability to build our data pipelines declaratively, rather than with code, and that allows for more reliable, resilient and reproducible deployments, which reduces our time to market considerably.
“SnapLogic’s cloud-native nature and functional capabilities also enable Stemly to enjoy both a hassle-free and maintenance-free mode of operation. I’m really looking forward to our joint collaboration and the future of our relationship as we take on an increasing number of big-name customers with even bigger data problems to solve.”
David Britten, APAC Managing Director, Corpay Cross-Border Solutions
“Cross-border payments are integral to international business operations and are necessary in a global economy. However, foreign payments can be slow and complex and lead to supply chain disruptions. In some instances, cross-border payments can take several days, passing through numerous financial institutions before reaching the end recipient.
“To ease supply chain challenges, small and medium-sized enterprises (SMEs) must seek innovative payment strategies to make cross-border payments in a frictionless manner. There are several tips SMEs can use to deal with supply chain problems including:
Setting up an adequate multi-currency budget with a flexible approach
Having an ongoing strategy and plan incorporating risk management strategies
Investing in innovative technology to streamline cross-border payments
Leveraging a specialist cross-border payment solutions vendor
“As cross-border payments grow in popularity, moving beyond legacy technology in favour of modern solutions is the key to making payments efficient, fast, and transparent, minimising supply chain disruptions.”
Angus Martens, Business Manager, Conrad Martens plumbing and hot water
“Since the onset of the pandemic, the construction and trade services industry has experienced the impacts of supply chain disruptions and material shortages. Businesses have simultaneously faced delays in sourcing materials and increased material costs. These issues have created more challenging conditions for many businesses that previously relied on materials being readily available and predictably priced for their day-to-day operations.
“Below are our top tips that we have found helpful in tackling supply chain issues:
- Diversify your supply chain by establishing relationships with alternative suppliers.
- Move from ordering materials ‘just in time’ to holding greater stock levels.
- Prioritise ordering materials as early as possible to allow a buffer for any unexpected delays.
- Use a risk assessment approach to help prioritise which potential supply chain issues are most pressing. Develop contingency plans, such as researching whether substitute products are available in the market.
- Manage customer expectations by being transparent and realistic about timeframes and potential delays.”