6 minute read

The amount of change in the supply chain since I first became a practitioner more than 25 years ago is eye watering. Today, supply chain practitioners operate in a world of ever- increasing complexity, where competition is global, disruptions are constant, supply and demand variability is increasing, and talent is scarce. Operations have to keep up with the increased speed of the market or face losing market share.

All of this leads to the need to compress process times. With the new Top Gun movie finally coming out on May 27, I felt it would be appropriate to quote the main character of the movie, Maverick: “I feel the need, the need for speed.”

In fact, I believe the need to increase process clock speeds is one of the biggest challenges facing supply chains today. It also offers one of the biggest opportunities for a competitive advantage. The ability for supply chain ecosystems to quickly sense, analyze and respond is the new competitive frontier.

In our complex supply chains, an opportunity or crisis can emerge in an instant. C-suite leaders want increased speed and agility and they expect the supply chain to lead the way. The supply chain can’t wait until the end of the month, week or even day to respond. Customer expectations continue to increase and they expect a near-immediate response. This, of course, is all being driven by services from companies like Amazon who are now offering 2-hour drone delivery in some locations.

Research shows that it still takes many companies over six months to create and deliver a new product to market. So it seems supply chain practitioners still have some work to do. How do we speed up the supply chain while ensuring synchronized and aligned operations across an ecosystem of partners? Real-time visibility and dynamic collaboration.

The Challenges of Fragmented Supply Partner Collaboration

In my experience, most companies have fragmented supply partner collaboration capabilities that rely on manual and limited tools like email, spreadsheets, EDI and conference calls. To make matters worse, there are often multiple groups within a company that interact with suppliers using different tools.

For instance, a purchasing group might use EDI to communicate orders out of their ERP solution, while a supply chain planning group might use spreadsheets to communicate forecasts downloaded from their planning solution. Disconnects and misalignments lead to missed opportunities, higher costs, increased operational risks and slower reaction time to changes or disruptions.

"The number one strategy for improving resilience and agility is to deepen collaborative relationships with key customers and suppliers.”Gartner Inc., The Journey to Effective Supplier collaboration

As performance becomes increasingly connected to a company’s ability to collaborate with supply chain partners, companies face a variety of challenges. These include:

  • Supply chain activities and the associated data mostly reside outside a single enterprise;
  • Enterprise business applications are not designed to run multi-enterprise processes;
  • Heterogeneous data from a variety of operating systems makes leveraging data very difficult; and
  • Engaging and collaborating with business partners on a one-to-one basis is time-consuming and expensive.

Traditional supply chains still have enterprise-centric processes, leverage mainly internal, enterprise data and are facilitated by solutions designed for single enterprise operations. This leads to delayed updates, limited visibility insights, a reactive mode for both planning and execution, optimization by object rather than outcome, and decision making mainly based on humans (80/20 distribution). Dysfunctional multi-enterprise collaboration leads to the “Bullwhip Effect” where relatively small changes in demand by consumers can produce a whip-like effect on the demand signal used by upstream supply chain partners.

Accelerating Clock Speed Through MESCBN

Companies today need to effectively and efficiently manage their end-to-end supply chain from their supplier’s supplier to their customer’s customer. Luckily a new type of solution, Multi-Enterprise Supply Chain Business Networks (MESCBN), purpose-built to facilitate multi-company and multi-echelon collaboration is available. MESCBN Platforms support a community of trading partners that want to coordinate and execute on business processes that extend across multiple enterprises. MESCBN Platforms are quickly becoming foundational technology for more mature organizations, implemented to coordinate, automate and transform an organization’s extended supply chain within the overall business ecosystems they operate.

Nulogy was recently named a Leader by Quadrant Knowledge Solutions in their Multi-Enterprise Supply Chain Business Networks 2021 Spark Matrix report. Quadrant Knowledge Solutions said the following about Nulogy’s MESCBN Platform: “Nulogy’s unified multi-enterprise supply chain business network (MESCBN) suite enables organizations to achieve deep collaboration and two-way real-time visibility between suppliers and brand manufacturers. […] The platform helps organizations drive agility and improvement across business processes, manage costs, enhance on-shelf availability, optimize operational excellence and efficiency, and mitigate carrying cost and material waste.”

Quadrant Solutions Nulogy MESCBN Leader

When I led supply chain operations at a Fortune 500 food company 20 or so years ago, including helping to manage their contract manufacturing partners, I could only dream about seamless flows of multi-enterprise information that enabled dynamic partner collaboration.

Do you feel the need to speed up your supply ecosystem operations? I truly believe the need to speed up your supply chain by a factor of ten isn’t a dream or even a movie: it’s reality, and it’s a necessity to be competitive. Now is the time to address your critical collaboration shortcomings in your multi-enterprise supply ecosystem. Nulogy can help.

Download our white paper to learn more about how a multi-enterprise platform can prepare your business for the future.

Written By
May 10, 2022

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