The road away from spreadsheets, human intuition, and handshakes for supply chain management has been a long one. And a collection of best practices and standards for the SCM field has grown alongside amazing technological innovation.
As technology has advanced in the form of cloud-based software, many companies have come to realize the importance of end-to-end supply chain management as a reality. But how does this new visibility work? And what can it deliver to your company?
What Is the End-to-End Supply Chain?
The end-to-end supply chain encompasses the whole supply chain process. This system includes product design through procurement of materials and components through the delivery of finished goods to the customer. It also includes customer service and warranty responses.
A platform can offer actionable insights or prescribed solutions in a connected supply chain powered by advanced analytics. Supply chain components that previously operated alone or only in loose conjunction with one another are now fully integrated. And every component can communicate its current state. These components include:
- Product design
- Demand and supply planning
- Purchasing and procurement
- Inventory control
- Field service and returns
What Are the Benefits of an End-to-End Supply Chain?
The move to a connected supply chain is no small feat considering that data sets within supply chain functional areas were traditionally siloed. But the advent of flexible, agile, cloud-based software that collects and analyzes data in a digitized and connected factory makes the end-to-end supply chain possible.
Here are some of the most significant benefits of an end-to-end supply chain:
Traditionally, each cog in the supply chain focused on the downstream. Because other departments made decisions, they took what they received as inputs and parsed them to push them down the line. Software and connected environments allow visibility to be two-way, with each department accessing unsiloed data to “see” both upstream and downstream. This visibility, combined with advanced analytics, sharpens and automates decision-making.
Improved Demand Planning
Because the entire product cycle is included, demand forecasting can be more targeted. Tactical decisions can be made with real-time data for short-term drops in demand. Strategic demand planning can be deployed in times of disruption because planners have more confidence in data quality and insights.
Better Inventory Management
Tracking inventory in motion from supplier through delivery means companies can accurately utilize perpetual inventory systems. For manufacturers used to quarterly inventory that allowed little process improvement for system errors, the cost can be analyzed and managed to the unit from beginning to end. Software can enable tactics such as vendor-managed inventory to see actual counts and potential disruptions upstream and act accordingly.
A connected factory will utilize sensors, edge devices, and other monitoring systems to push data to the cloud. Demand and supply planning software allows automation of inventory, purchasing, and shipping functions. This reduces errors caused by bias, data entry, or those associated with outdated data.
Seamless Process Flow
Because the supply chain is fully connected and integrated, your entire supply chain system can be optimized with best practices to allow users to step in and understand exactly what’s happening at any stage. Programmed and automated decisions work side by side with better informed human decision-making to keep the process running smoothly by eliminating guesswork, errors, and intuition.
End-to-End Supply Chain Visibility with DemandCaster
Moving to an end-to-end supply chain has never been easier, thanks to best-in-class software from Plex DemandCaster. With a suite of specialized platforms, DemandCaster offers solutions such as demand and supply planning, inventory forecasting and optimization, and more to help you build a real-time, data-driven system with complete end-to-end visibility. Read more here to find out how DemandCaster can provide a solution that works best for your needs.