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I am pleased to share with the Supply Chain Expert Community this guest blog post from the University of San Francisco:

 

The use of web-based technology and communication is a necessary component to provide the best outcome for a supply chain system, especially if a company wants to remain competitive in a challenging economy and a global marketplace. However, bridging the gap between knowing what needs to be done and implementing those changes can pose a formidable challenge. 

Increasing knowledge of available software and harnessing the communication skills needed to implement the technology are two vital components of any online supply chain management program. With or without special training, supply chain managers can use the following tips to make the transition smoother for all key players.

1.  Do your research and take the time to know the pros and cons of various software packages ahead of time.

  • Be sure your company has an organizational system in place before choosing software and spend the time to clarify what goals you want to accomplish with the integration of technology before you meet with software vendors.
  • Keep your managers in the loop. Taking the time to plan for and respond to obstacles in the beginning makes the transition easier. Listen to individual concerns and what managers foresee as challenges with the other vendors and clients with whom they interface.

2. Once you have identified a system, keep your communication with all affected parties positive and well-informed.

  • In an economically challenging climate, managers are multi-tasking more than ever. Make it clear how getting on board with your new technology will make their job easier to manage after the initial investment.
  • Communication will flow better; the supply chain will move faster; and with the language barriers removed in software applications, all links along the chain become marketable on the global level.  Communicate these pros explicitly to all your managers.
  • There are always glitches in the adaptation process of any new software; be sure to have support in place to address the specific concerns and problems that might arise. If you cannot address a concern immediately respond with a timeframe for follow up.
  • Find out what the obstacles are and address them head on.  Is a vendor afraid to security breaches; is a client reluctant to take on anything new because of time constraint issues or budget constraints; has someone posed concerns that include a bad experience with similar technology? Listen and take the time to address the resistance on a case by case basis.

3.   One key point of installing technology into a supply chain management system is to leverage more efficiency, power, and competitive advantage out of your investment.

  • With the active collaboration of managers along the supply chain, you will compound your investment, and so will they.
  • A well-planned educational campaign to give management the tools and answers they need to make informed decisions will help your organization build the trust it needs to enforce the control necessary to achieve your specific goals you will now be able to keep track of more efficiently, such as:

o   time compression

o   increased labor efficiencies

o   increased response time

o   streamlined communication

o   and other competitive advantages unique to your own industry

4.  Stress the potential for increased collaboration and profitability for all parties; remain flexible when rolling out conversion timelines, maintain strong communication and follow-up once the process begins.

  • International vendors and clients may need additional training or time to make the transition; be supportive and stress the potential for increased profits.
  • Communicate updates through managers along the supply chain; encourage team interaction.  Has one group solved a problem that can benefit the whole supply chain?
  • Set out a timeline to re-assess the needs and the goals as the market changes, or with the addition of new suppliers. 

While no one can predict all challenges present during the implementation of technology to supply chain management, putting the time in to plan, predict, and personalize the software transition process ahead of time will help boost collaboration, trust, and efficiency of the process over the long haul. Technology is a vital piece of the puzzle in securing and maintaining the competitive edge in an ever-changing and global marketplace. Supply chain managers willing to put in the time to assertively lead technology transitions can reap big rewards with proper planning, education, implementation, and sustained follow-up.

This guest post was provided by University Alliance and submitted on behalf of University of San Francisco. University of San Francisco offers online supply chain management courses that are designed to help professionals advance within the field.

 

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