Four key ways to deal with supply chain complexity

14 August 2014 | Mike Flanagan

Mike Flanagan, general manager of supply chain management applications at FinancialForce.comOrganisations of all shapes and sizes are faced with their supply chains becoming more complex to support the diverse levels of size and needs in new suppliers and customers. 

As this complexity builds, are your teams spending more time entering and managing data rather than focusing on growing your business? It’s now more important than ever to maintain a well integrated, audited and secure system that can be precisely reported on at every level.

A strong supply chain strategy can be an extremely powerful competitive differentiator, allowing organisations to react quickly and precisely to changes in customer and market demands. With most organisations managing the procure-to-pay and quote-to-cash processes in multiple systems, requiring cumbersome integration points and without real time visibility, businesses should focus on the following.

1. Manage multiple fulfilment models in a single system

Where’s my customer’s order? This is a question that any employee, regardless of job title or department in the business should be able to answer on the spot. By ensuring that your data is in real-time and easy to access you will always be able to accurately support all your B2B and B2C clients and customers.

2. Complete inventory visibility from procurement to delivery

Eliminating communication barriers within the organisation allows you to effectively manage inventory. This is going to be very helpful when considering business expansion, as the issues can be addressed before the business grows and problems are compounded. With globalisation increasing and the UK in a better position to export around the world, a comprehensive view of the supply chain on a global scale is important.

3. Control spend with confidence

Supplier agreements are not effective if they are not leveraged. Capturing cost is pointless if it cannot be associated with the appropriate budget, sale or project. By avoiding contract leakage and managing margins from quote to sale, a full view can be taken and ensure a clearer forecast is given.

4. Simplify proposals and contract management

Customer contracts can span a long period of time and will inevitably change. Managing change and tracking the contract history is almost impossible if you are doing it via spreadsheets and an assortment of MS Word documents. Using the correct tools and information to easily handle change and analyse the total contract value throughout the life of the contract ensures that no complications or misunderstandings occur.

With the right cloud-based ERP system in place all of this is possible and more. Flexible, scalable systems that integrate with your CRM system can make a huge difference to your supply chain management and provide a distinct competitive advantage.

☛ Mike Flanagan is general manager of supply chain management applications at

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