By Bogdan Fedorciow, EVP, International

Contact: b.fedorciow@eyefreight.com | +44 1628 851 151

Last week I attended Supply Fest 2014 at the British Museum in London. This supply chain management conference considered two issues always at the forefront of operations: minimizing cost and reducing risk. For effective supply chain operations, managers should tackle both simultaneously.  The host as well as the presenters did a great job of sharing compelling information, answering questions, and maintaining a healthy level of audience engagement, so full credit goes to them as well as to the team who put the event together.  I noticed an overarching theme was collaboration, and four key topics emerged as the day progressed:

  • Communication – Real time information from all actors in the supply chain at each touch point is critical.
  • Value and benefits versus effort and complexity – Determining which supply chain projects get priority is challenging.
  • Understanding the cost to serve – Receiving early warnings if a shipment will not be arriving on time is key to achieving desired results.
  • Varying degrees of collaboration – From visibility of information to co-shipping with suppliers, taking advantage of opportunities to collaborate can drive success.

Eyefreight hosted a round table discussion, titled: The Biggest Bang for your Supply Chain SaaS Buck. This discussion posed the questions:

  • With evermore enterprise software applications becoming available as SaaS solutions, which ones are best suited to leverage cloud technology (and why?).
  • Assuming some solutions have the ability to deliver wide reaching benefits to key constituents within the Supply Chain while others often deliver less value and come with higher risk, how do you determine where the right fit is for your organization?

I would like to thank everyone who chose to attend this discussion. The audience input contributed to a very interesting outcome.  I shared our findings on stage with the audience, and I would like to share these with those who were unable to attend the event. Interesting to note, these findings mirrored the topics mentioned above: communication, collaboration, and value and benefit versus effort and complexity.

Communication

The idea of disparate silos of information was common to many companies, with many different actors both inside and outside the organization needing to access key information – information that is often sent and received through email in the form of documents and spreadsheets. Exacerbating this already painstaking communication process is a lack of integration. Legacy IT systems, processes, and procedures that may have been right for the business in the past have not evolved at the rapid pace of the marketplace and changing customer needs.

Varying Degrees of Collaboration

Visibility

  • System integration with 3rd parties (e.g., LSPs and suppliers)
  • Enable pro-active decisions
  • Accurate logistics data supporting customer service
  • Support strategic decisions with granular reports on logistics KPIs and LSP performance

Optimization

  • Enable optimal central planning
  • Leverage state-of-art academic research in transport science
  • Create synergies between outbound and reverse logistics

Collaboration

  • Collaboration between different actors of the supply chain
  • Co-shipping

Value versus Effort

To answer the question: “Which applications are best suited for the cloud?” Transport Management Systems were identified as one of the best. The discussions revealed the following:a really productive Transport Management System will have all of the transport vendors connected, which is in line with most companies’ preference to avoid hundreds of outside parties connecting into their internal systems.  Furthermore, a SaaS product running outside of the firewall is the best way to secure an organization’s internal environment.  Therefore the most secure solution is a Transport Management Solution in the cloud.

Many participants agreed a system accessible by as many key actors (both inside and outside the company) as possible enables a company to increase communication, better understand the true cost of serving customers, and ultimately facilitate collaboration.

In summary, Transport Management Systems are the best place to start for a SaaS supply chain solution.

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