Guaranteeing future supply chain success on a cloud platform

There is increasing pressure on Australian manufacturers, wholesalers
and distributors to continuously rethink their supply chain processes and
systems to keep up with the flux in the global marketplace. Many have turned to
lean manufacturing and efficiently managed supply chains to compete
successfully, though these strategies also come with their own challenges.

That supply chains have matured over the years to become faster and more
interconnected is undisputed; however, they’ve also grown more complex. Regardless
of whether the manufacturer or a distributor has a single location or a global
network of distribution, manufacturing and 3PLs, the modern manufacturing
business is global, and distributed.

Manufacturers and distributors often have to manage orders and payments
in different currencies, tax rates and government regulations, as well as
fulfil and ship products across international borders. The downside of lean
manufacturing practices and complex global supply chains is that businesses are
increasingly exposed to disruption, with added cost and risk.

To meet these requirements, businesses are often forced to piece
together multiple systems and processes that unfortunately obscure visibility
and insight, such as separate systems for order management, CRM, inventory
management, accounting, shipping and more. They conflict with key objectives to
increase agility, reduce cost and risk in the supply chain and drive innovation
through collaboration internally and with external partners.

To compete in a global marketplace, manufacturers and distributors need
to do more than merely introduce an efficient manufacturing or supply chain
system; they need to integrate and automate all of the business processes and
data to support expansion, as well as to ensure cost-effective and profitable
operations. They also need to be able to operate and have complete visibility
of the entire business in real-time, which is only possible by operating the entire
supply chain from a centralised system on the internet, giving deep and up to
the minute visibility of every interaction, transaction and relationship
occurring in the business in every market, anywhere in the world.

Cloud computing plays a crucial role in helping Australian
manufacturers, wholesalers and distributors achieve supply chain success beyond
traditional borders faster. Apart from enabling businesses to operate in global
markets in real-time, the cloud allows them to establish a core platform for
manufacturing, wholesale distribution, customers and supply chain that they can
access anywhere and anytime, without considerations of currency and foreign
exchange. A business can have all of these components in a single cloud
business management system, which can completely transform and modernise
manufacturing and supply chain, and can also be replicated for any new
relationship.

Businesses have been traditionally using fax, email and spreadsheets,
giving people access to various applications, or even relying on integrating
with the suppliers, manufacturers or distributors’ systems in some other format
to get complete visibility of their supply chain. All of this resulted in
delays to gather, enter and collate this information, leading to heavier costs that
impact their competitiveness in the market.

By transitioning people, processes and partners to the cloud, manufacturers
and distributors are achieving the key objectives of a modern supply chain,
rather than facing the disparate data, high costs and rigidity of traditional
software and servers.

Key gains for businesses include greater visibility, improved agility
and resilience, reduced cost and risk, and innovation through collaboration.

Greater visibility

Limited visibility impacts any effort to increase supply chain
efficiency, assess supplier performance, rationalise spend and ensure optimal
inventory levels across channels. By modernising systems around a more unified
architecture that makes on-demand visibility into real-time data possible,
manufacturers and distributors are better positioned to sense and respond to
customer demands and synchronise operations with a global supplier base.

Improved agility and resilience

A key differentiator in the modern hyper-speed digital world is the
organisation’s ability to be agile, reacting swiftly to address challenges and
seize new opportunities as they emerge while strengthening their resilience to
withstand change. Progressive organisations are moving to cloud systems to
launch ventures in new markets or geographies, eliminating the substantial time
and cost investment demanded by traditional in-house systems.

Reduced cost and risk

Instead of tracking costs in the aggregate, leaders are monitoring and
managing at a more granular level, costs surrounding logistics and fuel,
tariffs and potential contingency expenses to identify incremental savings. Top
performers are also slashing inventory costs with better demand-driven insights
through unified, real-time data sets in the cloud while mitigating risk and
strengthening compliance with internal and external requirements.

Innovation through collaboration

By moving supply processes to the cloud, it is now possible for data to
flow seamlessly across an extended network. Organisations and their trading
partners can also communicate with the same data, audit trails and real-time
accuracy at every stage. Stakeholders can share container, pallet, location,
forecasting, scheduling and unit-level data, while the common platform opens an
avenue for manufacturers and distributors to capture ideas from partners to
drive innovation in product quality, features and logistics among others.

Cloud-based business management software is a proven integrated platform
that can support global distribution and the many complex processes and details
that are part of every transaction. By integrating all supply chain processes
in a single, unified system, manufacturers and distributors are positioning
themselves to replace complexity with fluidity, and educated guesswork with
real-time transparency and execution, working towards achieving success in
volatile, fast-changing markets.

Written by Mark Troselj, managing director of Asia Pacific and Japan,
NetSuite