How to Find a Supply Chain App for Your Needs in 2019
Prioritizing the strategic importance of technology that supports your supply chain is essential. Mobile Solutions are an integral part of the technology landscape that supports all steps of the manufacturing process. Organizations that have mobilized solutions such as enterprise resource planning (ERP), enterprise asset management (EAM) or field service management (FSM), warehouse management system (WMS), Inventory Management System (IMS), etc., are more prepared to tackle the digital transformation. By 2018, mobile has served as the key to unlocking the “supply chain digital transformation.”
Shockoe creates supply chain apps designed to support new production strategies, reduce time to manage and log resource and production activity, bring greater accuracy to tracking and analyzing data, and support the automation of production centers. Warehouse management, manufacturing, and distribution, have several opportunities to leverage mobile in the workforce in the supply chain.
In working with our clients, the list below is the starting point for mobile solutions. These supply chain app options support the manufacturing and sales process through an ecosystem of inventory apps, customer-facing apps, and order fulfillment apps.
Mobile Apps to Consider by Point in the Supply Chain
Planning & Production Apps
- Managing parts and resource staffing requirements
- Production workflow management
- Inventory and asset management apps
- Logistics and supply chain coordination
The Manufacturing Business uses Production Planning Apps, but also across the entire supply chain. Consquently, production planning apps allow users to manage the process in three primary ways:
- Augment your Production Planning System: A Production planning solution is the first step in transforming the planning process from a manual process, based on spreadsheets, to one based on integrated sales history-based forecasting and confirmed sales orders/release schedules. Mobile apps allow your team to make real-time decisions based on information obtained through a Mobile App.
- Managed Strained Resources: What happens when you find out that there will be a 10% increase in demand next month, but no idea if you have the resources? What happens if your demand shifts mid-cycle? You can control master scheduling via a computer, but why not get the insights to do it on your mobile app?
- Disconnected Plant Floor: Errors mean waste, unhappy customers, and non-compliance. As your business grows, mobile is the only way to ensure your team can be there to know what’s going on at any given moment. Operators and Managers need to focus on the task at hand, not on managing issues. Thankfully, Mobile Apps give managers and operators a complete view of the manufacturing operation.
Order Management & Accounting Apps
Mobile Apps that fall into this category include:
- Order management apps, pricing, and fulfillment
- Real-time quote generation
There are two types of helpful applications that support the order management and accounting process. Order Management and Fulfillment Apps will support users with:
- Two-way transmission of orders, inventory, shipping, & Invoices
- Track process of fulfillment orders real-time and close the fulfillment loop
- Enable shippers to track order progress
- Real-time quote generation also has some great benefits.
Order Fulfillment and Compliance Apps
Mobile Apps that fall into this category include:
- Order status and delivery
- Product traceability and quality
- Logistics and supply chain apps
- Machine level compliance and intelligence
Similar to the production & planning stage, order fulfillment falls apart due to inefficient operations, a lack of both integration and inventory knowledge. Mobile Apps can relieve the following key pain points experienced:
- Automate Entry for Order Fulfillment: We see our clients continue to use a manual process for order entry as their go-to option. Unfortunatly, this leads to inaccuracies in the order, from the items needed to fulfill it, to where it is being sent. Mobile apps equip operators with the equipment necessary to drop manual entry errors on things like product SKUs, quantity, and shipping address.
- Resolve Inventory Inaccuracies & Inefficiencies: Having the right inventory is only half the challenge, operators need to know where it is and how to get to it. Mobile is not the only solution for this. There are two things your team needs to do:
(1) Make sure to have a floor layout that makes inventory visible. (2) Track inventory as it enters and exits the warehouse in a centralized system. Mobile apps enable employees to be quick and efficient, in real-time.
- Team Communication in Fulfillment: Miscommunication can cause shipping delays as much as a disorganized warehouse. If the team is on different pages, with no direct access to managers, time is inevitabley wasted trying to locate team members. As a warehouse manager, you may have all the vendor information you need, but that won’t help your team unless you communicate the information that they need. Wth a supply chain app in hand, your team will be in constant communication.
When prioritizing and considering mobile supply chain solutions to support the manufacturing, administrative, and customer engagement process, Shockoe suggests using three key metrics. These metrics focus on supply chain app development, rather than alternative mobile applications or the technology portfolio.
Reduce Manual Labor and Increase Productivity
Delivering a successful customer experience, subsequently driving more revenue, requires mobile leadership and prioritization activities to go beyond building apps for customer-facing roles (i.e. Work Order Management or Sales). Back-office workers, technicians, and managers need mobile access to enterprise systems to perform their jobs better and serve customers more efficiently. For example, think about creating a better mobile experience by integrating with ERP or WMS systems, giving employees more freedom to do their jobs anywhere and everywhere. Critical features for a mobile supply chain functions are scheduling, measuring, and dispatching the workforce.
Leveraging the mobile context will allow organizations to accurately measure and improve the productivity of each individual. Going beyond technology and mobility, an app that enables the workforce can also collect essential data for future planning. In turn, the organization can better analyze how much more work it can take on, whether there are enough people to support the forecasted workload.
Historically speaking, revenue was only accounted for from a customer standpoint. Integrating new technologies to create a mobile supply chain allows monitoring and assessing revenue percentages at the process level. Quickly obtaining the percentage of revenue contribution at each step in the order-to-cash process is valuable information for real-time decision making and forecasting. Mobile solutions can track performance at each step which gives both locations with context.
These values help show whether a measured process is underperforming or contributing significantly to the overall revenue. Whether it’s an investment in an asset management app or an inventory management app, whatever it is, a more granular overview of information can help target your areas of growth, need, and reward in the supply chain.
Automation, IoT, and Machine Learning are popular terms. What manufacturing companies need to worry about and set goals for is the extent of the automation planned and how these emerging technologies can help. Once the business understands its goal, mobile solutions can embrace IoT devices to enable the desired automation. Allowing employees to track automated processes on mobile devices can decrease error rates, speed fulfillment processes, and settle cash faster. The continuing development and availability of newer and better technology imply that processes can be made to work faster, repetitive work can be automated, FTEs can be reduced, operations can be systemized, and customer handling can be improved. Tackling automation, IoT, or machine learning requires a set of tough decisions:
- To what level will I automate the process?
- What aspects of the process will I automate?
- What tools will alert and track my employees to the process?
The mobile supply chain is the next era of communication, collaboration, and responsiveness to the customer, driven by the ability to meet ever-more-stringent deadlines and delivery dates. Start from your key challenges and business objectives, use the right metrics to focus on, and plan your journey for successful implementation of mobile, IoT and emerging technologies. Shockoe works in the supply chain to focus on manufacturing apps and technology that support essential business processes. Mobile Solutions are at the forefront of all digital transformations and can support all areas of the manufacturing process. The right mobile app can help manage several areas of the manufacturing process and beyond.
Alex has more than 10 years of international experience in Strategic IT Transformation and Custom App Development. His expertise in various industries ranges from Consumer Goods to Retail to Finance while assisting clients in the areas of Business Strategy & Development, Security & Compliance, and Technology Transformation. As one of Shockoe’s founding members, Alex is focused on business strategy, security & compliance, digital innovation, mobile management, and operational transformations.