Will the Supply Chain Scrooge Steal Christmas this Year?

  • Supply Chain
  • Data-Driven Enterprise

Even if you aren’t a supply chain professional, you have likely either heard about or experienced the current supply chain crisis firsthand. Shortages are leaving almost fully assembled goods (like cars and electronics) waiting for critical parts for delivery. Process Manufacturers can’t complete in-demand products due to missing ingredients. Finished goods are sitting on boats waiting to be offloaded – or sitting in terminals waiting to be loaded onto trucks or trains. Warehouses are empty and everyone from the media, to retailers, to the White House, is predicting it may be more difficult – and more expensive – to get gifts for everyone on your list this year.

But, if you are a supply chain professional, this is a different kind of nightmare. Your suppliers are struggling to deliver necessary goods – leaving your customers empty-handed. And no matter how much everyone understands the current situation, being caught in the middle is neither a good feeling nor is it good for business. Your on-time, in-full (OTIF) rate is suffering. Your contracts are in peril.

So, what can you do?

Better Understand the Current Condition of your Supply Chain

Your ERP is at the heart of your business, managing a constant data stream that represents all that is happening in your supply chain and your financials. The ability to access that information and make sense of it provides you with actionable insights that can be used to make crucial decisions.

In February 2020, just as COVID-19 lockdowns loomed, a large pet food company faced the potential that a certain amount of perishable ingredients and finished products would spoil if not dealt with immediately. Their SAP ERP system contained references to both raw materials and finished goods that needed to be relocated from warehouses not equipped to store perishable materials to other warehouses, stores, and end consumers. Accessing that information promptly, making sense of it, and using it to make informed decisions about their supply chain proved to be much more complicated than expected.

They needed their SAP data transformed into self-service operational reporting, allowing business users to quickly create views to examine key areas of a business process to understand performance or identify potential issues. Magnitude Angles for SAP was able to take their complex organizational SAP data, organize it into recognizable business processes with an understandable structure and language, interconnected by relationships. These relationships allowed them to quickly add fields, like master data, from related objects and processes to create a more complete picture.

The resulting picture of their supply chain and bottlenecks allowed them to save millions in perishable goods that would likely have been wasted otherwise. Because Angles executes ongoing order calculations, everything is traceable. And, by detecting the relationships, future bottlenecks can be predicted and prevented. In the case of a late supply order, Angles can pinpoint which customers might be impacted – so your business can not only inform them but determine an alternate way to fulfill the order.

Make Necessary Changes to your ERP in Real-Time

Just as necessary as quickly gaining visibility into supply chain bottlenecks, organizations need to be able to quickly and efficiently act on any insights that are produced from such increased transparency.

For companies that need to quickly pivot in a time of supply chain crisis, it is important to have automation tools that allow you to swiftly swap in new materials for those that are delayed or add new vendors to replace those with limited supply. Manually adding this to your ERP system can be time consuming and error prone, leading to more delays during a crisis in which every minute counts. With Magnitude’s Process Runner software, companies can automate thousands of SAP transactions directly from Microsoft Excel. With Process Runner, enterprises can manage their SAP data in real time, taking action with SAP Tcodes like downloading material document lists (MB51), creating or changing master data (CC01), and creating customer master data (XD01).

During a supply chain crisis, an automation tool for SAP can enable companies to turn insights into action. It can also be incredibly valuable when dealing with thousands of transactions that need to be altered. While adding a new vendor to your ERP system might be a simple entry, changing all of a company’s orders to that vendor could prove to be more difficult. Process Runner can save organizations 90% on their SAP data processing times. Uploads that once took 30 hours of work are reduced to just three. And the time savings can be immediately realized on an enterprise’s first run of data uploads.

ERP data automation and management tools allow companies to not only act in the moment, but also be more prepared in the future. The current supply chain crisis isn’t predicted to get better soon, but even if it does subside, it is important to be prepared for future fluctuations. Having automation capabilities at the ready allows for just that.

Stay Up to Date with Your Supply Chain

This is a bit of a no-brainer – the more you understand about your supply chain in real-time, the better equipped you will be to make the necessary decisions that will set you apart from your competition. However, there are challenges involved:

  • User Adoption

    Typically, user adoption – or lack thereof – boils down to two issues. The first is access. Your business users need self-service access to operational reporting that doesn’t require raising a ticket with IT. The second issue is trust in your data. If your business users can’t access the data, they need to answer the questions they have, they will look for another solution. That’s why your operational reporting solution for ERP data needs to include customizable templates for your industry’s most used and more valuable reports – and data from your ERP needs to be queried in real business English, rather than in the complex vernacular or your ERP.

  • Integrations

    Most companies don’t use an ERP within a vacuum. Rather, the ERP is part of an enterprise architecture that includes middleware, potentially a data warehouse or even data lake, and of course Business Intelligence tools to visualize analytics and create reports. Your ERP should seamlessly integrate with all those tools so that the critical data stored in it is easily accessible when the business needs it – and in the format they need it in.

Magnitude’s Continuous Intelligence Platform Can Help

With integrated enterprise data solutions, companies can kickstart the cycle of continuous intelligence and tackle challenges that arise in our ever-evolving, constantly pivoting, and increasingly connected world.

The key is to find systems and tools that complement each other. With the case of the pet food company above, the enterprise needed a tool (like Angles for SAP) that allowed them to have a more complete picture of their supply chain while providing analytics regarding its processes. That’s where automation tools (like Process Runner) come into play, allowing enterprises to act on those insights and automate them for future process improvement. These tools allow for the direct integration of data back into business systems, through user-friendly interfaces to promote adoption. It is not only vital that a business’s software solutions complement each other, but also that they work well with programs many of your business users are familiar with, like Microsoft Excel. This business intelligence cycle is completed under a data governance framework supported by these applications.

With Magnitude technologies, you can work to solve current logistical issues and integrate key data sources from your enterprise architecture, allowing you to improve supply chain operations during these trying times and prepare for future volatility.