The supply chain is a very broad category in business. According to Logistics Viewpoints contributor Chris Jones, all types of firms will come together in the effort to bring objects from the planning stage to a successful sales process. He recently suggested several strategies to help companies interact with very different partners.
Large firms with sophisticated processes may end up trading with small, underdeveloped allies. Making these transactions as smooth as possible could be a boon to overall logistics success.
Making integration work
B2B integration is absolutely vital in supply chain management. The rapid and unencumbered flow of information from one partner to another is the lifeblood of an effective and productive professional relationship. However, according to Jones, some large companies may be thrown off by the discovery that smaller trade partners have no IT capability and no way to make quick B2B information exchanges.
The answer to the question of a lower-tech partner, Jones stated, is to meet the small company more than halfway. He suggested that large firms can craft a data exchange portal that could simulate the capabilities of a B2B integration system. They cannot overhaul their allies' networks, nor is it their responsibility to do so. However, extending system capabilities to make submitting information easier could represent a positive change for companies, one that could speed the entire supply chain.
High tech and low tech are not two completely separate categories of firms. Jones stated that some small partners may have advanced data collection in some areas and not others. That could simply mean a hybrid B2B integration solution based partly on automated data collection techniques and partly on capturing information that is gathered manually.
Training does the trick
CFO contributor Sawn Casemore recently suggested that one of the actions companies can take to improve communication is to boost employee engagement. Though automation and new technological systems are indeed important value creators in logistics, he stated that the people behind supply processes are extremely important. Systems that closely examine performance could boost output.
Casemore explained that firms could boost their workers' skills in the communication and efficiency fields by constantly training and retraining. He noted that many supply chain managers view training as a one-time process, a view that could lead to weak retention of skills and abilities. Repeated reminders of priorities, under a variety of circumstances could have workers putting lessons to work.