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Today’s global sourcing environment is increasingly complex, where multiple functions, processes and suppliers in different countries need to work together like a virtual orchestra to produce products within short timelines. Failure to get the right quantity of your product in front of a targeted consumer when they are ready to buy can mean failure of a product, brand or company. Supply Chain Management tools help retailers get products to market on time through creating visibility into critical issues (Critical Path Management) which could impact the product lifecycle.

As supply chains grow in complexity with increased product volumes, processes and links in the chain, information visibility becomes critical. Unfortunately it also becomes more difficult as multiple versions of documents such as cost sheets, design samples and supplier scorecards are created in different formats. Problems occur when information is not centralized or there are inadequate ways to share information. The result of such information gaps is a lack of awareness into potential supply chain problems and an inability to provide early warnings and synchronize real time responsiveness.

Given the complexity in today’s supply chains where multiple internal departments and third parties are involved, the reality is that each link in the chain might have their own information management processes which are not linked to the broader supply chain. These processes are often not automated and might involve a separate ERP system, spreadsheets, PDF’s and communication such as phone calls, and emails. Sharing and updating information is often done manually, resulting in delays and errors in information sharing. These processes are often cumbersome and don’t easily scale when the operation grows.

SupermarketAs retailers struggle to maintain margins, increase market share and meet market demands, pressure has increased on supply chains for savings through leaner inventory, and more efficient processes. These pressures include demands for sourcing lower cost raw materials, relying on higher quality suppliers, producing and shipping products faster and just-in-time with shorter lead times and managing a bigger list of KPI’s to ensure quality, compliance and supplier performance. Existing workflow process tools whether they are called critical path management, calendar management, product development trackers or something else, are often time intensive and manual, such as spreadsheets or weekly roll-up meetings, and don’t have collaboration built in to enable automatic information sharing.

What’s needed?

Retail supply chain management solutions that manage the entire flow of a product from concept to delivery. A solution that incorporates information from the planning, product development, sourcing, production and logistics stages into complete view in real time, enabling a more flexible and responsive supply chain. A complete set of sourcing management tools that cover:

Customization – The system should be flexible to enable customization for particular user needs.

Alerts – Should be generated automatically through a system, by email or SMS and sent directly to the appropriate person for follow up.

To do lists – The ability to proactively plan work that needs to be completed in time to ensure the critical path is preserved. This should seamlessly integrate with a user’s dashboard and offer the user a tailored view of the activities needed for completion.

Automatic roll-up of information – At any time the system should be able to report the entire status of a project in a report or dashboard.

Analytical capability – Users of the system should be able to drilldown into particular issues and adjust and optimize the critical path based on their learning.

Planning functions – the tool should allow tasks and resources to be shifted and adjusted based on requirements of the project.

Intuitive interface – The user should be able to quickly and easily learn and adopt the system, much like they could with a Microsoft Office program.

Web based – The system should be easily accessible with a range of internet speeds, browsers and levels of IT sophistication

Forward thinking tool designed to help retailers navigate the complexity of today’s global sourcing environment. As the supply chain evolves so does the need to utilize technology for supply chain speed and scale. While it is currently used to some extent by retailers, the potential of sourcing management tools is only beginning to be utilized. In today’s difficult economic and retail climate, companies will continue to look for ways to optimize their operations and reduce costs. Increasingly they will turn to tools such as Supply Chain Management (SCM), Total Sourcing Management (TSM) to enable such efficiency and savings. To learn more about today’s sourcing management tools or for more information please Contact Us or visit www.cbxsoftware.com.



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