Welcome to the Digital edition of our FMCG supply chain guide. The related Source, Plan, Make & Deliver overview articles can be found here. Each discipline is a key room in the Enchange Supply Chain House which provides a guide to your supply chain improvement journey. What, you do not do Digital? You will fall behind competition, and very quickly.
The dictionary definitions are very simple and hardly inspiring but Digital is fast becoming the most important investment for companies seeking a successful FMCG supply chain.
1. Data expressed as the digits 0 and 1, illustrating if a signal is present or absent.
2. Showing the time of day on a watch as digits rather than hands.
3. Related to IT and the internet, e.g. the digital revolution has made it easier to work remotely during COVID-19.
That digital revolution has been part of our lives for some time but the pace of change is now frightening and exciting in equal measure. How many people remember having to get up from their seat to change the channel on the TV? And in 1970’s UK there were only 3 channels and not all in colour!
How many people have never and will never use a telephone attached to a wired socket in the house? How do you use that rotary dial thing? A push-button phone was a huge step forwards at the time but seemingly still from the Stone Age.
Can anyone imagine running a business in 2021 with the cutting-edge innovation that was Windows 3.1. And people still complain about computer speed and functionality today. You don’t know you’re born!
These are but three communication examples of thousands and thousands of innovative changes which have made live easier, safer and more enjoyable. Then again, the sight of a family of six in a restaurant all tapping away on mobile telephones as food goes cold does not strike me as a fun bonanza.
Digital in the Enchange Supply Chain House
After that nostalgic look at life before the unstoppable digital tsunami gained momentum, let us look at some of the important Digital elements you must consider for a successful, competitive supply chain operation.
Data management describes the process of capturing, organising and storing the data you generate for and from your extended supply chain and related operations. Effective data management is critical in supply chains as sensible use will generate analytical information to help drive operational decision-making. Do you have a data management specialist? Do you take actions on data or information – they are not the same? Are you capturing data relevant to your business needs?
If you click the link above you will see the important difference between data and information. Information management is one step beyond data management, i.e. what you do with data to convert it into information and onwards to actionable decision making. Management includes how the information is disseminated around the business, to whom and at what time. How is your valuable information communicated to the supply chain and wider business? Is it timely? Do actions really follow?
ERP, Planning Tools, WMS
Your supply chain will rely on various IT packages to manage decision making on demand signals, movement of raw materials and finished goods plus physical distribution. Stocks have to be under control and secure wherever they are along the supply chain. Depending on your aspirations you may use rudimentary packages or big-name, all-encompassing software. Does your business still rely on spreadsheets? Are the available systems fully exploited? Are they integrated?
This is a simple process led opportunity to optimise output from your existing hard- and software assets and the network. Optimisation ensures that your automated IT assets are synchronised across the business to reduce time, error and risk. Is your expensive IT doing what it says on the tin? Do you know the rate determining step for your critical decision making?
Supply Chain Analytics
Despite investment in sophisticated systems, there are still significant opportunities to improve supply chain performance. Frequently, complex IT projects automate traditional ways of working but result in little improvement or quite the opposite, things are made worse with increased noise and nervousness in the various processes. Analytics allows you to see precisely what is happening in your supply chain, why, and the potential benefits of a solution. Do you know what is actually happening in your supply chain? Do you want to know more about supply chain analytics?
In future articles we will look in more detail at the Digital specifics you need in place to support and fuel the extended supply chain and your Route to Market deployment.
Read all of the posts in my series on the Supply Chain Excellence page of our blog where you can also subscribe to our updates.