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3 Must-Haves for Ensuring Supply Chain Continuity

In today's business environment, complexity looms large as supply chains rely more and more on manufacturing and distribution partners, and stretch farther and farther across the globe. With this complexity comes a higher level of risk, as companies lose visibility and control while still retaining accountability to customers and the brand's reputation. To counter this complexity, and the inevitable risks that come along with it, organizations need to create a core competency in resilience to ensure the continuity of supply.

Maintaining continuity of supply is essential to reliably delivering on your promise to build and fulfill your products and deliver services to your valued customers. At E2open, we believe this is the lifeblood of your company. There are many potential sources of disruption to continuity of supply, but these sources only become inordinate disruptions when companies have not integrated the three must-haves into their supply networks: visibility, intelligent response, and network-wide collaboration.

Instituting your continuity of supply checklist

By integrating visibility, intelligent response, and network-wide collaboration into your supply chain, you can recognize current problems immediately, or predict potential issues early. With this early recognition, you can perform “what-if” scenarios to determine the best plan of resolution to support your strategy, and then work with your trading partners to collaboratively ensure that those problems don't become crippling disruptions to continuity of supply and customer service.

Let's take a quick look at the “checklist” to ensure that you're set up for continuity of supply success:

Visibility

  • Do you have good data about what supply you have and where in your supply chain right now ? Make the shift from one-to-one, manual emails and spreadsheets, and move to a trading partner network for the most collaborative visibility, planning, and execution.
  • Can you get a clear picture of the context of the data? Data without context is simply visualization. To have true visibility, you must also consider the context of the data for the information to truly become actionable.   
  • Do you have a good handle on the impact of any deviations from the plan? A key question to ask is, “How will this deviation from the plan impact my ability to deliver products to customers?”
  • Bring all of it together with a platform capable of enabling a core competency in collaborative planning and execution, which is the central strategy of a business network.

Intelligent response

  • Have you looked for comprehensive visibility across your trading partner network to know what your alternatives are—whether in terms of alternate sources of supply or alternate means of transportation?
  • Based on predictive analytics, are you able to determine which scenario is preferable to support the achievement of your corporate priorities?
  • Can you run “what-if” scenarios to explore these alternatives? Are you doing so with a planning tool integrated with your network and process management capabilities?
  • Choose the best option and align your partners for execution and plan achievement.

Network-wide collaboration

  • Are you able to collaborate with your partners on solutions, get their verifiable commitment to the actions they will need to take, and ensure that they can and do complete these actions?
  • Have you implemented a strategic platform, one that provides all participants with access to common information (i.e., “a single version of the truth”)?
  • Have you established a communications capability tightly linked to that information and to the business processes it is in the context of, as well as the ability to track partner actions to ensure things get done according to pre-standing agreements?

By attaining these three must-haves with a business network that integrates your trading partner network with process management, planning, and analytics, you can see problems as or even before they arise, determine how to address them in collaboration with your trading partners, implement those fixes, and ensure they are carried out—all without having to rely on slow and error-prone manual methods.

For innovative companies, this vision for continuity of supply is a reality today. Begin this journey by implementing these three must-haves to successfully meet the complex challenge of ensuring continuity of supply and reap the many resulting business benefits, including the significant competitive advantage of being able to meet demand effectively and enhanced customer satisfaction.

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