When it comes to developing reliable supply chain connections, it's important to consider that there are multiple sources of data that produce multiple instances of the data that is collected. The majority of manufacturers have at least 2 sets of applications that are used for managing their supply chain. Those include an ERP system and an EDI/transaction management system. The question is, which application set can deliver the best and most reliable visibility into the supply chain?
I've been harping on what it takes to be visible... that is to have visibility into your supply chain. The truth is that gaining visibility is an ongoing process that is never really 'done.' But that's the nature of the supply chain. Once you have good connectivity with one trading partner and the facilities they use, another trading partner comes along with an entirely different set of connections and different service providers.
When we talk about having visibility into the supply chain, most of us think about being able to track the data about what orders are in what process of being delivered to their destination. When products are on the shelf, even though they may not yet be in the hands of the consumer, they have been delivered to the retailer, so the responsibility of delivering the product has been completed. But there are situations where the liability remains with someone other than the retailer, and it's possible to monitor the transport at a more granular level in some cases.
Is a Supply Chain Management Control Tower the only way to go? What issues are not yet solved with our current thoughts on SCM Control Towers? Are we looking at some type of a “Commercial Network” instead; or are looking at “SCM Control Tower 2?” In any event, there is a requirement for further automation of the process.
When is a commodity not a commodity? When each individual item is made to order. Not just made for the P.O. but to the specifics of the customer's requests. With traditional supply chain practices it's easy enough to get the order right for the specified number of items in the package. But when that package count is 1, there is literally no margin for error.