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Effective supply chain management is critical and directly impacts a company's bottom line. Companies are beginning to realize the performance potential of their supply chains lies in achieving visibility into their operations. By extending supply chain solutions with mobile technology, organizations gain real-time visibility into the portion of their supply chain outside the four walls, reducing costs, improving business performance, and delivering a competitive advantage.
Businesses face a number of challenges in their supply chain, including costs, lack of real-time visibility, lack of flexibility and antiquated legacy systems.
According to Supply Chain Council, supply chain management can account for 60 to 90 percent of all company costs. Missed shipments, late pick-ups, lost revenue, customer service issues, broken service level agreements, fines and penalties seep money from the bottom line.
In the automotive aftermarket industry, success relies heavily on the availability of parts, accuracy and speed of delivery. According to the Automotive Aftermarket Industry Association, data errors, including distribution, errors in order processes and invoices, cost the industry more than $1.7bn annually.
Lack of real-time visibility
Many businesses concentrate so much on front line operations that they neglect the equally critical back-end operations, resulting in a lack of real-time inventory data. In the best cases this could result in small fines; in worst cases, huge penalties, ruined company brands, human illness or even death.
For example, in the food service industry food pathogen outbreaks and food recalls can be a supply chain headache. With real-time inventory data, managers can immediately determine which stores received product from the affected lots and pull it quickly, resulting in huge savings, safety for consumers, brand security and greater control.
Lack of flexibility
Supply and demand for products are constantly changing, due to fluctuations in the economy, fuel prices, consumer preference, competition, and more. The mobile extension of the supply chain technology needs to be flexible and capable of adjusting with the fluctuations of the marketplace. Many supply chain systems are cumbersome and reactive, making appropriate changes too expensive and slow to implement.
Many operations are still relying on legacy systems, such as excel documents or paper notebooks, to track their operations. These are antiquated and lack visibility. Managers are unable to get the data they need about what products they have in inventory or where their items are. These systems provide a historical "what was" look at the supply chain versus real-time "what is right now" view - making data obsolete by the time anyone sees it. With the introduction of new mobile technology, the supply chain has the ability to become a dynamic working machine that streamlines processes, reduces errors and drives overall business performance, resulting in a strong competitive advantage in your industry.
What's all the SaaS about?
SaaS-based mobile software products are becoming the go-to solution for organizations that wish to improve the performance of their supply chain by achieving visibility, collaborating with customers and reducing operating costs. According to the Supply Chain Council, focused initiatives in supply chain management can result in 30 to 35 percent in cost reductions and liberation of working capital. Dollars resulting from effective supply chain management can be used for significant advancements, from reinvesting in your technology to deliver enhanced or new products and services, to hiring new intelligence and expanding your organization.
SaaS-based mobile software products can increase efficiency of operations, productivity of employees and drive business performance. Additionally, SaaS-based mobile software products are affordable, scalable, flexible and intuitive.
The transportation logistics space is the fastest growing segment of SaaS adoption - especially when tailored for the key requirements of niche industries, such as the courier, medical specimen, retail distribution and food service sectors.
For couriers, SaaS-based mobile software reduces fuel and fleet-related expenses, as well as increase productivity. Intermountain Express provides overnight delivery services to the automotive repair industry and wholesale dealerships. By adopting a SaaS-based GPS-based application that offers instant package tracking and proof-of-delivery, the company realized immediate savings of over $5,000 a month by decreasing time to locate shipments, accurate tracking of drivers and shipments and route optimization.
For clinics and labs, SaaS-based mobile solutions can increase timely pick-ups and reduce the number of lost specimens. Bio-Reference Laboratories, Inc. (BRLI) is one of the largest full service laboratories in the nation, handling 16,000 specimens processed from over 2,900 locations each year. By adopting hand-held mobile technology and tracking software with integrated GPS technology, the company reduced missed specimen pick-ups by 61 percent; saw a return on their investment within six months and increased customer trust and retention.
For retail distributors, SaaS-based mobile software can track orders, deliveries and employees in real time to improve efficiencies, productivity and customer retention for auto parts distributors. This technology can bring real-time visibility to the distribution process in the highly movable auto parts industry-a key advantage for distributors.
For the food service industry, SaaS-based mobile software gives food service businesses 360-degree visibility for superior inventory management and recall readiness - resulting in fresher goods, safety for consumers and tremendous savings, security and control for businesses.
What to Look for in a Mobile Software Provider
• Experience - Look for a provider who has years of experience working with organizations similar to yours. Nothing beats a word of mouth referral from a trusted colleague in your field.
• SaaS-based delivery model - SaaS-based products in this economic climate are smart. The products can be up and running in less than 30 days, scale easily and are cost-effective and there is no need to install and run applications locally.
• Strategic Partnerships - Partnerships with carriers and other existing business applications are vital to success of the mobile software deployment.
• Superior Training and Support - If employees don't use the system, the investment is a wash. For successful adoption, find a provider who offers extensive expert training and ongoing support.
• Rapid ROI - Rapid implementation means that you will see quick returns on your investment. If you're not measuring performance before and after, there is no way to accurately analyze your results. Use an ROI calculator or similar tool to benchmark your improvements.
Investments in SaaS-based mobile technology are no longer business strategies for early adopters. To compete, companies must invest in mobile technologies for their supply chain management that reduce costs, increase efficiency and productivity and provide visibility to managers to enable smarter and faster decision-making.
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