The shift to remote work has left a majority of businesses technologically underprepared – and remote work is only the tip of the iceberg when it comes to structural changes.
There’s a renewed urgency for digital transformation, especially in supply chains. A recent PwC COVID-19 Pulse Survey revealed that 72% executives believe their companies will benefit from resiliency and agility in the long term, with nearly 50% expecting long-term benefits from technology investments and new ways to serve customers.
Digital transformations offer supply chains incredible opportunities to minimize risk and revenue loss by maximizing efficiency, customer satisfaction, and business growth. Digital transformations are also often daunting to approach and sell internally.
That’s why it’s vital for businesses to start with investments that yield the fastest and most valuable results.
With the shift to remote work catching 72% of businesses technologically unprepared, there’s no question a digital transformation is in order. Now more than ever, board members understand the urgency and necessity for a systems upgrade, they’re just wary of the associated risks and expenses.
There are several ways that ambitious supply chain leaders can prove their visions and make a compelling case. To start, bold projects no longer have to cost millions and take years to break even or self-fund. Technology that is neutral, cloud-based, and can support real-time integration can typically begin enacting transformative change and generating value within 2-4-month increments, with breakeven in less than one year.
For fast time-to-value, choose configuration over customization. Solutions that are hard-coded, modular, built around a point solution, or attained through multiple acquisitions with integration complexity, or hybrid approaches are inflexible and take far longer to implement and generate value. Configurable platforms, on the other hand, are inherently adaptable and scalable.
Opt for a unifying technology over a ‘rip and replace’ approach. For example, if you’re looking to create a standardized solution, but have multiple ERPs and WMSs running on different versions in different locations, a rip and replace can take years and hundreds of thousands of dollars to accomplish. Alternatively, a single, supply chain cloud platform can create a standardized solution – such as a Control Tower or Order-Centric TMS – across multiple different ERPs and WMSs in about half a year.
The quicker the go-live, the sooner you can start generating value and the faster your investment becomes a self-sustaining budget. Limit the scope of your vision and, again, choose a solution that will work with your legacy systems, as well as orchestrate across external parties.
Consider the company’s priorities and the most viable actions for improving them. For retailers and fulfillment organizations that might mean getting an order and logistics management solution up before Black Friday or resolving pain points in returns management, which have seen a sharp rise during the pandemic. Shippers and LSPs might want to implement a global Control Tower, Visibility, or TMS solution for improving the efficiency of transport flows across their supply chain networks. Whatever your need, focus first on the area that allows you to act fast and gain the greatest value. And remember that even complex solutions can be easier to roll-out in regular bursts than you realize.
The key is to invest in a solution that is capable of “business releases,” or deployment in several, quick iterations according to an agile implementation methodology. The agile approach creates immediate value within each short-term release – which, depending on the company, solution, and project scope, could occur every two to three months.
“It’s important to define success through a series of small, quick wins that show frequent progress and meet promised deliverables.”
~Bryce Boothby, MPO board advisor and former executive of Flextronics, Celestica, ModusLink, Regenersis PLC, and Lulu.com.
Delivering visible change and positive impact every quarter helps the board, your team, and especially your business partners stay energized and motivated by the initiative.
The beauty of choosing a neutral or agnostic supply chain cloud platform is that you’re investing in a technology that will nimbly guide you through the various stages of maturity.
So many companies found themselves technologically under-prepared in this crisis because they have not yet digitized, lack choice, and the ability to monitor and quickly execute. It’s incredibly worthwhile to choose a supply chain technology your business can grow with.
A typical journey of quick wins might start with a Control Tower and Visibility. As an initial objective, centralize and digitize your data to gain insight into the status of orders, inventory levels, and transportation options across the network.
Next, you might seek to enhance collaboration. Leveraging a unified supply chain cloud platform, start standardizing processes and workflows among internal teams and across external partners that reflect end-to-end objectives, such as expanding into multi-modal, multi-regional supply chains.
Afterward, focus on optimizing. Broaden your network with new suppliers, carriers, and other partners. Onboarding with a natively unified platform is fast and easy, so once you expand options, the platform will automatically apply smart business rules, factor in features, requirements, and constraints, and select the optimal partners to fulfill every order, enhancing margins while lowering costs.
Once the framework of your digital supply chain is set, the sky is the limit. A flexible and configurable supply chain cloud platform will support you technologically in every stage of your business growth thereafter – from omni-channel fulfillment to product and service portfolio expansion to creating a unified customer experience on a global scale.
MPO offers the world’s only natively unified cloud platform for supply chain orchestration. The platform’s neutral integration layer enables agile implementation, so solutions can typically begin going live in a couple of months, allowing our customers to drive break-even value in under a year. To learn more about our platform and what we offer, please browse our solution briefs, solution toolkits, or feel free to reach out to discuss your business initiative and how we can provide fast time-to-value!