A healthy supply chain can be an anchor of stability and security when waves of economic uncertainty come crashing down. If anything was especially hard-hit when COVID-19 first struck like a tidal wave, it was this portion of business owners’ operations.
Regardless of a company’s size, supply chains worldwide felt the adverse effects. Purchased products that would typically package and ship the same day they were ordered, suddenly took several weeks to arrive and items that were already expected to experience shortages – such as toilet paper and cleaning supplies – were even harder to keep stocked than managers anticipated.
Supply chain management and ongoing optimization take a united effort and won’t be accomplished in one fell swoop. But enterprise resource planning software can help in this process by increasing visibility and leveraging data to provide better forecasting across your organization and its various departments.
As detailed by Thomas Insights, here are a few of the ways in which ERP can improve supply chain management so processes can be more streamlined, even in troubled waters.
- Improves customer satisfaction
The customer is the be-all, end-all of any business. If the customer isn’t 100% satisfied with their product or service, no one else is either.
But you can improve the customer experience by fully integrating your ERP software into your current accounting system or replacing wholesale. Truly responsive ERP solutions come equipped with features and tools that allow you to gather intel on what your customers most want out of the items they buy or the services they need. That data can be used to inform how you produce goods and implement the processes that help to make it of a higher quality.
Put another way, the intelligence gleaned through ERP can be used to make products better by providing clarity into what the customer wants and where products are in the development phase. Pairing the information from customers with visibility during fabrication can help ensure manufactured goods are in line with expectations and delivered on schedule after identifying and clearing bottlenecks.
- Enhances efficiency
If there’s one thing business owners have in abundance, it’s data. Even if they don’t have it at their fingertips, they certainly have the means of collecting it, whether through ERP software, customer relationship management programs or other more informal processes. The problem is this data can be easily lost or difficult to compile when it so often exists in its own separate silos.
ERP software solves this issue by gathering all the facts, numbers and details you’ve collected over time so that it’s all in one place. This more centralized database – whether on-premises or in the cloud – enhances time management and helps make sense of the data through analytics. Analytics can help you make smarter, more informed decisions about key business functions, including how the supply chain should operate and what steps are needed to enhance optimization.
- Makes inventory management simpler
Inventory decisions depend on data; typically, the best predictor of purchase decisions is past behavior. Sales orders provide this information, but COVID-19 was unlike anything the world has experienced and created significant supply chain disruptions for retailers and their suppliers. To guard against future issues, General Mills plans to rely on more third-party manufacturers for development and reduce the length of time before shelves are restocked. The Wall Street Journal reported that the cereal and packaged goods giant plans to partner with 20% more food manufacturers than it had before the pandemic, according to John Church, the company’s chief supply chain management and global business solutions officer.
If you don’t have these types of resources or connections, ERP makes inventory management more precise through automated forecasting and tracking. Workers can use this intelligence to glean insight into what’s being consumed the most and at what pace, all on a real-time basis.
- Keep tabs on shipping
Most business activities slowed down or paused altogether in March, April and well into May. But one thing that surged was shipping. Just ask the U.S. Postal Service, UPS and FedEx. With millions of people still working from home, the dramatic growth in shipping is expected to continue. ERP solutions help you stay on top of where shipments are on their route and the estimated time to arrival. Many software bundles also offer recommendations on which shipping method to use depending on your needs, whether it’s speed, affordability, safe arrival or all three.
Don’t let the aftereffects of the coronavirus crisis sink your supply chain. Microsoft Dynamics 365 will help ensure it stays buoyant. Contact The TM Group for more information on integration.