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Fine tuning a supply chain is a challenge that has never been perfected. Part of the reason why is that there are simply so many moving parts operating independently and cooperatively. And in today’s globalized economy, those parts are spread out across the globe.

Dealing with the scale and complexity of even a modest supply chain takes a huge effort. Calibrating costs, deadlines, materials, and staff all according to the broader strategy of the business makes supply chain management an endless frustration.

It is exactly because of this complexity that IT is your supply chain’s greatest asset. You can work to improve every aspect of your processes and procedures, but the only way to have a meaningful impact is by relying on technology first and foremost. To understand how crucial this is, consider some unique supply chain challenges that IT is uniquely capable of solving:

Streamline Efficiency

Minor instances of delay and waste distributed throughout your supply chain add up to major costs and compromises. Organizing your supply chain to work as efficiently as possible is achievable with the help of technology. You can get a top-down perspective on individual elements or the supply chain as a whole while consulting real-time metrics. It is only with this kind of broad and deep oversight that you can spot the worst inefficiencies.

Maximize Productivity

The productivity of your supply chain has a direct impact on your revenue and bottom line. But maximizing output requires more than just hard work. You need to be able to rely on IT that shows you where and how process improvements could increase your output. IT also helps you put precise adjustments into place throughout the supply chain.

Optimize Resources

You either can’t or don’t want to make a major new investment in your supply chain capabilities. That means you have to make the most of what you have already in terms of staff, facilities, equipment, vendors, etc. Without the aid of IT, it would be impossible to adjust all the variables necessary to stretch your available resources to their limit without causing disruptions. In the absence of IT, a supply chain does not have a real means to improve.

Standardize Processes

One of the most persistent headaches for any supply chain manager is trying to standardize processes in order to achieve consistent, predictable supply chain outputs. This is so challenging because so many processes are happening simultaneously across the distributed network of the supply chain. IT links all the input points and gives them a common platform to share information and implement processes. If there is a way to do things better, everyone implements the improvements at the same time.

Secure Loyalty

Your supply chain exists on the back-end of your business, but it has a big impact on the overall quality of the customer experience. When an order does not arrive exactly as expected, it directly cuts into your customer base. And typically those mistakes and inconsistencies result from problems in the supply chain. Relying on IT like IoT and AI, in addition to ERP systems for manufacturing can help you smooth out every wrinkle in your supply chain. As a result, the kinds of operational mistakes that needlessly alienate consumers begin to decline. Perfecting your supply chain is an effective and necessary way to cultivate repeat customers.

Some of this information is probably familiar to you. But it’s worth reviewing simply to underscore that IT is the solution to every modern supply chain problem. And it’s the accelerant for any modern supply chain strategy. If you consider your supply chain to be a necessary evil, IT is the way to transform it into your greatest asset.

Photo: @joelfilip

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