The Infosys global supply chain management blog enables leaner supply chains through process and IT related interventions. Discuss the latest trends and solutions across the supply chain management landscape.

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Getting Serious about Supply chain collaboration

Based on the various client interactions & inquires so far, I  can say that organizations are getting very serious about collaborative  relationships with their suppliers and are investing a great deal of their time & resources in strengthening the relevant processes. In this blog, I share my thoughts on the market direction & activity in this space.  Supply chain collaboration is nothing new in the world of competitive supply chains, but collaborative relationships have so far been limited to mature and large suppliers. They were limited to suppliers  who can afford, and are mature in terms of IT infrastructure, to be connected with EDI. Organizations have realized that even smaller suppliers are important to be ahead in this competitive landscape, as disruptions from their end could potentially disrupt the entire supply chain.

Also the sky rocketing supply chain costs could be pushed back somewhat by setting up automated online collaboration, communication & data exchange processes, with small & Large suppliers, which reduces the overhead of resources to manage these manual  processes.
 
Transactional data /document exchanges like Purchase Orders & Shipping notifications were implemented using EDI by many organizations. Now the same basic  document exchange functionalities are being extended to smaller suppliers who do not need EDI to exchange documents but can do the same on the Web browser interface.  Customers are extending their planning processes beyond the inward looking planning applications to include extended supply chains, e.g. exchanging forecasts with suppliers and receiving their supply  plans. This has a potential to have a huge positive impact on supply chain agility - response times, long term planning accuracy,  improve compliance  and reduce supply chain costs resulting in contributions to revenue and profitability.

The fact that supply chain vendors have also ramped up their offerings in this space, by adding significant functionalities that could be used to fully exploit the potential of supply chain collaboration, has helped.  A case in point is SAP supply network collaboration (SNC). Organizations considering implementation of  collaborative processes should definitely consider SAP SNC , especially if they use SAP ECC & APO modules. SAP has added number of new and significant functionalities to position SNC as the module of choice for supplier collaboration to SAP customers. SNC supports large number scenarios for materials  & outsourced manufacturing suppliers like supplier managed inventory, Work order collaboration etc. Apart from these scenarios other functionalities like Quick view, micro blog,  integration with cFolders to upload documents etc. has also provided customers the end to end collaborative tools needed for their collaboration needs.

Implementing Supply chain collaboration and tools to support those processes needs a focused approach with due emphasis on considerations like IT & Process readiness, supplier segmentation, supplier onboarding, Deployment architectures etc. Organizations where time & effort has been spent to understand the various requirements & challenges in such implementations have been immensely successful in their initiatives.

I would be very interested to know your experiences and thoughts  on implementing supplier collaboration processes and tools.

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