As we march steadily on into the digital age, the demand to become more integrated with technology, and to avoid letting that technology become obsolete, grows more essential with each day that passes. Just as the old adage says that your new car loses value the moment you drive it off the lot, business owners can feel a similar sort of exasperation at the thought that despite their best efforts, they may be losing untold amounts of money as a flaw in their operations remains undetected.
These operational faults come in many forms. In fact, some exist merely because the processes they affect have not adapted quickly enough to remain relevant in an ever-changing market. Truly, for these hiccups that have been “grandfathered in” it’s important to remember that what worked for Grandpa’s business won’t work here.
Supply Chain Management in the Digital Age
Of course, it’s unlikely that your business is run entirely through the fax machine and the power of a graphite-tipped pencil. You have daily meetings with distributors, weekly stand-ups with your procurement team, and analytics on every facet of your business broken down to the minute and the penny. However, it is the very multifaceted nature of your operations that can lead to the type of oversight where these obsolete processes slip through.
Companies that have inventory management as a significant part of their business model are particularly at risk of this type of hazard. They may have great processes for onboarding new clients, or a wide breadth of partnerships that help them expand into more and more territories each year. But managing their inventory—from production to distribution to warehousing—and being able to give accurate estimates on project completion, is an ever-evolving puzzle that demands a host of time, money, and energy to solve. Throw a crisis like a recession, a natural disaster, or a pandemic into the mix, and having forward-thinking operations in place suddenly becomes a matter of life and death for your business.
Keep it Simple
Luckily, there is no shortage of tools to help you simplify your inventory management, and finding the right one will help you reap the benefits of a fully integrated business model.
- More integration in systems means fewer errors. If you have an inventory control system that is made up entirely of Microsoft Excel and QuickBooks, you will constantly be having to rely on the accuracy of your employees as they enter the data manually. As keystroke or computational errors give way to problems down the road, more time will have to be spent monitoring and updating work that has already been done. As you start to integrate your business processes, you will find that there is usually a piece of technology that can exchange two tools for one.
- More integration in systems means more time saved. Not only will you gain efficiency by reducing the time spent monitoring data entry, but having access to more accurate data will make for more accurate reports on improved key performance indicators. Standardizing these processes will increase productivity and reduce the amount of time spent holding redundant meetings.
- More integration in systems means a more agile business. Ultimately what we have been discussing is utilizing technology to hone efficiency within supply chain management. As companies integrate more of their processes they will become more flexible when encountering unforeseen challenges (like making informed decisions on the fly to shift operations to meet a need), and more resilient in the wake of a crisis (because more of their digital presence will be better protected).
Utilize & Move Onward
Utilizing technology to promote best practices within an integrated supply chain is the key to longevity in today’s ever-evolving digital marketplace. Choosing the right tool for your business will be made easier by identifying which one best simplifies your operations. Not only will this lead to greater revenue and time saved, but morale will improve as people’s jobs become easier, and productivity will increase.