There is increasing awareness that collaboration is the key ingredient for effective supply chain operations, and perhaps more importantly, for risk reduction. Recent industry research (from Ethical Corporation) found that industry collaboration is the "single most exciting opportunity" for global supply chain sustainability in 2015/2016.
But how can you incorporate collaboration in the heart, soul and economics of a buyer-supplier relationship? University of Tennessee research over the last decade points to a methodology researchers have coined as Vested Outsourcing - or simply Vested for short. Vested agreements bring parties together through a powerful mindset and commitment to invest in mutual success through collaboration.
One of the key reasons organizations are pursuing more strategic and highly collaborative relationships is to reduce risk. The increasingly complex nature of supply chains means that disruptions are also much more common. These disruptions can be caused by anything from political unrest to extreme weather, or even a lack of communication between internal teams and external partners along the chain. Collaborative technology systems can take the fragmentation and uncertainty out of supply chain risk assessment and response by avoiding, controlling and/or evaluating all risk factors across the global supply chain.
Thus the current thinking is that the key to insulating or at least buffering the supply chain against costly delays, failures and major risk factors is through collaborative software platforms.
Use of collaborative technology and processes improves visibility, and shares risk-related information across the entire supply chain.
According to data from Gartner and ARC research, over the past decade companies have spent billions of dollars on product data management, enterprise resource planning, transportation management systems, warehouse management systems and other “Big Data” programs. But in order to use the data already collected from such existing applications, new classes of software are needed. This will mean revised supply chain execution portfolios and the adoption of “cross-functional platforms” that support integrated, end-to-end business processes. Easy to say, but not so easy to implement perhaps.
Software that collects and shares information from multiple technology sources and service providers will make it easier for organizations to access a wealth of information across supply chain trading partners. This technological collaboration can include suppliers across every tier of the supply chain.
That sounds like technological collaboration. Is your supply chain ready for this level of integration?
With a proper governance framework in place, technology could be the tipping point that that makes supply chain collaboration real, rather than simply a nice talking point, in 2016.
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