Increasing Supply Chain Traceability

- February 14, 2013 2:48 PM
Categories: Commentary | Tags: ,

Grant Davis is a Data Modeler by day and a writer by night. When Grant isn’t trying to climb through the computer screen he writes for BMC, a leading mainframe operations provider.

 

Today, products are being shipped and received have at a rate that’s never been seen before. Because of this, supply chain procedures must adapt to a changing environment – a major focus being on traceability. Without traceability, product accuracy and customer satisfaction is compromised.

With today’s technology, supply chain leaders should have no problem with traceability. There is too much money at stake for any resources to slip through the cracks. Adequate software and supply chain management can increase traceability to the point where minimal revenue will be lost, and business practice can reach full potential in 2013 and beyond. Here are a few ways you can improve traceability within your supply chain:

Make everything electronic.

Paper needn’t be involved with any shipment, delivery or inventory file. File cabinets are a thing of the past (and if they aren’t in a specific company, they should be). Customers and information are too valuable to let anything get lost in translation.

Each customer and piece of information is important in itself. Additionally, a satisfied customer will most likely bring in future customers by recommendation. Similarly, a piece of information likely depends on a similar source of data, and if any disorganization occurs, the information is compromised. Electronics make the traceability of every business activity much more simple and retrievable.

 Reorient software

Having one software management system per company activity (payroll, shipping inventory, etc.) needs to be phased out. There is software nowadays that enables a business to monitor an entire supply chain from a central screen. This is very important for any key decision maker, as troubleshooting becomes much easier when everything can be viewed in one place.

Traceability is directly related to software and operations oversight in a supply chain. For instance, if a product delivery in Indiana is going to be late, the business manager in Miami needs to know this before it actually happens to prevent further compromise to the chain. Software that enables a person to distinguish problem areas and their severity before making a decision can really influence customer service. The more consolidated the software, the easier it is to trace both business transactions and the products themselves.

 Cross-train employees

Business can falter because an employee in Department A doesn’t know how Department C functions. Because of this, it has become increasingly important to cross-train employees laterally and vertically within a company. A payroll processor should understand the basics of network management, and vice versa. This enables employees to be more multifaceted.

Knowledgeable employees that are pushed beyond their daily routine can help a manager understand and trace problems within the business structure. If a problem with payroll happened after the information was given to the bank liaison, the payroll employee should be able to estimate what may have happened because he or she has knowledge of the steps in the operation before and after their role. 

Traceability increases both accuracy and accountability among enterprise practices. With customer demands being nearly instantaneous in 2013, efficiency and promptness are crucial. To reach these pinnacles of operational performance, traceability must be maximized. To fix a problem or speed of a service, decisions must be made on the basis of accurate and transparent information across all facets of a business.

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