By Tom McDonough, Sr. Director Product Marketing, Oracle
Time is money. Knowledge is Power. These simple truths remain constant – not recognizing change in business conditions promptly can cost a business in many ways, and this is especially true for supply chain planning professionals. Hundreds of things can go wrong with a business plan as time passes; sitting on too much inventory costs money, but not having enough can dramatically impact customer service. Not being able to adjust rapidly to change can result in a multitude of problems for the manufacturing and logistics operations that take value-added steps in moving raw materials to finished goods.
Supply chain collaboration and visibility are critical in reducing the latency in decision making associated with not knowing the what, where and how much associated with plan disruptions. This is especially true between business partners often operating in different geographies, time zones and using different systems and performance incentives. While supply chain collaboration and visibility solutions have been developed and marketed by solution providers for over a decade, the ability to generate insights for effective, timely decision making remains elusive.
The two primary challenges to achieving timely insights are 1) bridging the multi-layer divide between trading partners which are tightly wound in the data management, business processes and even the culture of each and 2) having not only visibility into plan disruptions but also having the intelligence to know the upstream and downstream effects of this disruption. Effective solutions require unified operational, customer, product and machine data with robust, end to end, tightly integrated planning features, and the ability to leverage modern technology for the process management and integration challenges.
Trading partner agreements on collaborative solutions include common objectives and require shared goals defined by key performance objectives and, sometimes, even clear definitions of penalties for non-conformance. Sample initiatives include vendor managed inventory and forecast collaboration projects. In either case, attaining the common objectives requires sharing data and managing cross-organizational process. Operational data needs to be converted into actionable insights that reduce decision latency and promote continuous improvement.
Oracle supply chain planning delivers tightly integrated features from demand to supply, collaboration and visibility tools as well as technology solutions for common methods of messaging and process management. With connected financial, workforce, sales and operations, supply chain planning and execution are better aligned across the business.
Our strategy is to embed advanced technology like IoT and machine learning to drive better collaborative planning. For example, we recently introduced Planning Advisor which highlights and prioritizes planning disruptions. It provides a guided resolution process which greatly increases planner productivity, reducing manual hunting and enabling planner focus on more strategic activities.
Another important maxim for us is that customer actions speak much louder than words. We’re proud to have helped, Lidestri Foods, Inc, a family-owned food and beverage contract manufacturer, develop forecast collaboration with key suppliers using Oracle Cloud Supply Chain Planning. Over time, the company was able to convince its largest retail customer that, in collaboration with major suppliers, Lidestri could more accurately forecast end to end demand and supply. This increased trust and reduced planning effort for their customer and led to significant reductions in food waste and reduced operational cost for Lidestri.