Digital supply chain Control Towers are invaluable for helping multi-enterprise business networks better collaborate, improve efficiency, and cut costs. They can, however, vary greatly in the depth and degree of what they actually ‘control’ and how much direct actionability you derive from them.
Here is a brief overview of the core elements of control a digital supply chain Control Tower should have.
1. In-App Control
This may seem like a basic capability, but in fact it is surprisingly rare. Most supply chain Control Tower solutions offer various levels of visibility, whether through analytic dashboards or alerts; few allow users to take corrective actions from directly within the application. In-app control should be a core capability.
When issues or exceptions arise, you want to be able to resolve them immediately and effectively, not toggle between multiple systems. Similarly, having to message or call partners and wait for their responses further exposes you to errors and delays. A digital supply chain Control Tower is meant to make your life easier by streamlining standard flows as well as exceptions.
To avoid the hassle and simplify the problem-solving process, look for solutions that offer real-time alerts and in-app management capabilities, such as order splitting and consolidation and dynamic route and/or carrier assignment.
2. Holistic Cost Control
If you oversee complex, multi-party supply chains, be wary of Control Towers that only span a small segment of operations, as they capture a limited view of supply chain costs. Solutions that span transportation management, for instance, focus on transportation-related elements like freight costs, while warehouse management software will narrowly offer visibility into warehouse-related functions, such as handling and storage costs.
To improve real-time decision-making about spend, ensure the digital supply chain Control Tower you choose offers holistic insight into the full range of operational rates and costs incurred – from sourcing to routing decisions. Such a solution will usually be part of an ‘orchestration platform,’ rather than a visibility add-on to a specific supply chain segment. Digital Control Towers for Orchestration are designed to improve collaboration across the entire multi-enterprise network, so they’ll significantly widen your business’s span of visibility and cost control.
For superior levels of cost control, choose a granular and order-centric solution that can capture any cost and apply it at the appropriate level, whether sales and purchase orders, shipments, or product or SKU levels.
3. Customer Chain Control
Balancing customer satisfaction alongside growth and profitability is one of the most challenging endeavors in supply chain management. When issues and exceptions arise, businesses will almost always make budgetary sacrifices, for instance, by expediting an entire batch of orders, to maintain customer satisfaction. A noble gesture – but one that can be easily avoided through customer chain control.
By customer chain control, I simply mean granular visibility into, and control over, the movement of each individual customer order through the supply chain. This feature is unique to digital supply chain Control Towers that are order-centric and able to isolate orders (as opposed to shipment-centric, which manage orders in batches).
If rush orders are a cost leak and pain point, look for a supply chain Control Tower that will enable you to isolate and optimize every customer order – including expedites. That way, when exceptions arise, you can split the affected item from the rest of the standard shipments to prevent undue impact, and course correct for that item only.
MPO’s Digital Supply Chain Control Tower for Orchestration offers in-app management and holistic cost control. It’s uniquely order-centric approach also facilitates customer chain control, so you gain unprecedented levels of insight and actionability over individual orders and their every movement throughout.
To ensure you don't overlook any other fundamental capabilities, download our free checklist today!