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How To: Automation at the Bottom of the Supply Chain

Posted by Dileepa WIjayanayake on Jan 2, 2019 6:59:00 PM

Supply chain management is often the key to running very large organizations, and acts as a health pulse for the company.   Where organizations heavily depends on their vendors/suppliers, supply chain maps the gaps between the organization and their vendors and suppliers.

One of our largest customers has 200,000+ vendors and suppliers.  They manage all their vendors/suppliers with a few systems, but what about the processes for each of those systems?

One of the simples processes that execute in any supply chain is to make sure each supplier/vendor is still compliant. This is easily accomplished through a questionnaire that is routed to each vendor, then the answers to the questions determine if the vendor/supplier needs a compliance audit.  When you have 200,000+ suppliers/vendors, it's a very massive task and it can get disorganized very quickly.  This is where a workflow tool, such as FlowWright, becomes a necessity.

There are many processes that need to be automated within the supply chain.  Almost always what we see what the industry calls the bottom up strategy, where a company say's "let's automate at the bottom", so that small changes at the bottom, when they propagate to the top convert into large results.

What that does mean? The supply chain process that selects complaint vendors/suppliers might be wrongly selecting non-compliant vendors and suppliers due to the fact that low level processes did not perform the accurate compliance validation of vendors and suppliers. 

In an automated world-if the bottom of the supply chain processes are already performed, meaning the compliance validation of vendors and suppliers, then the top most processes will have more accurate information and run smoother.

Automating the supply chain by our customers has lead to the complexity of a process into sub-flows.  Sub-flow really help in large step and complex use cases. In the example above, the large number of vendors/suppliers can be partitioned to different parts of the supply chain-which aids in efficiency overall. 

From a top to bottom view of the supply chain, you might partition based on compliance or non-compliant, or by industry vertical, but in most cases, this partition is also determined by how the bottom processes are partitioned.

Helpful hint: Always start/automate at the bottom and work your way up.

Have questions about how to improve or automate your supply chain process? Let's Talk!

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Topics: supply chain, automation, workflow solutions