Whether it is global trade tensions, natural disasters, or a pandemic, firms across all industries are facing increasing uncertainty and risk today. In responding to the supply chain challenges like unexpected or sudden shifts in supply and demand, companies are changing their priorities when it comes to supply chain management.
Pharma companies are increasingly focused on how to use digital technologies to improve supply chain agility, scalability, and on-time, in-full (OTIF) delivery performance. Organizations realize the importance of being able to react quickly to sudden changes and orchestrate a quick and effective response working closely with supply network partners.
A high level of supply chain agility enables firms to more easily and successfully navigate change—to anticipate, prepare for, and adapt to a "new normal," and effectively take advantage of new business opportunities when they arise.
The critical capabilities that enable supply chain agility
An agile supply chain is one that is capable of coping with uncertainty and instability in both supply and demand. Organizations with agile supply chains are able to respond rapidly to the changing conditions of the market and the shifting needs of their customers. They can adapt quickly to unexpected circumstances and change course fast to mitigate risk and take advantage of new business opportunities.
Supply chain agility is characterized by the following five key capabilities:
- Alertness: Monitor and track change in supply chains and quickly identify emerging trends, threats, and opportunities.
- Accessibility: Ensure quick access to relevant and accurate demand, inventory, and production data to optimize business decisions.
- Decisiveness: Rapidly determine what action to take in response to changing conditions affecting the supply chain.
- Speed: Take the necessary action in the shortest amount of time possible
- Flexibility: Adjust structures, processes, tactics, and strategies in response to changing circumstances
Learn more about how your company can build a more agile and resilient supply chain. Download the eBook: What You Must Know to Survive a Supply Chain Crisis: 5 Priorities from 4 Industry Experts.
Benefits of supply chain agility
Supply chain agility is achieved when an organization can quickly detect and react to change, whether that change is a threat or an opportunity. Agility also means that supply chain partners can quickly determine and execute the necessary actions to remedy a situation—even if it means readjusting existing business processes.
To achieve supply chain agility, you need a high level of visibility that spans the end-to-end supply chain. In addition to enabling organizations to react faster and more effectively to changing conditions and sudden disruptions, increased supply chain agility helps companies recover quickly from setbacks. It helps drive productivity and profitability by enabling businesses to consistently meet customer and patient demand on time and in full.
Improving supply chain agility with digital tools
The first thing that organizations can do to improve supply chain agility is to implement more effective supply chain management. They can do this by moving away from time-consuming manual data collection and instead leverage digital network-based systems for consolidating, integrating, sharing, and extracting insights from supply chain data. Organizations that leverage digital supply networks and multienterprise work management applications break down data silos and promote a seamless flow of information between upstream and downstream trading partners. These technologies can be used to increase visibility across the end-to-end supply chain and drive enhanced collaboration across the supplier network.
Technologies like digital supply networks help you achieve greater supply chain agility. They enable faster incident management and issue resolution, helping organizations overcome poor visibility and slow reaction time. They help eliminate blind spots in the supply chain, accelerate data-driven decision making, and promote collaboration across the supply network.
Digital supply chain networks facilitate real-time information exchange and encourage joint planning. Multienterprise work management software strengthens buyer-supplier relationships by offering a shared workspace in which all stakeholders can participate in real time to evaluate different scenarios and proactively manage supply chain performance. And cloud-based platforms offer firms the scalability, speed, and flexibility required for achieving lasting supply chain agility and resilience.
Enhancing supply chain agility in the pharmaceutical industry
The pharmaceutical industry, which was severely impacted by COVID-19, is poised to benefit significantly from supply chain digital transformation efforts. Disruptions, shortages of key materials, increased production costs, heightened concerns around theft of critical products like testing kits and vaccines, and transportation delays are just some of the many problems plaguing the pharma value chain today. By focusing on supply chain digital transformation, the pharma industry will increase supply chain agility and be in a better position to protect against these threats.
TraceLink's cloud-based digital supply network and multienterprise work management applications designed specifically for the pharmaceutical industry supply chain and serve as the foundation for your digital transformation, enabling supply chain agility and giving you the power to respond effectively to any challenges the future holds.
Learn about organizations are increasing supply chain resilience. Download the IDC Whitepaper: Solving the Pharma Supply Chain Struggle.
Supply Chain Agility FAQs
What is supply chain agility?
Supply chain agility refers to the ability to cope with sudden fluctuations and volatility in supply and demand and adapt rapidly to the changing needs of the market and consumers.
What is an agile supply chain?
An agile supply chain is one that can pivot quickly in response to unexpected change or rapid shifts in supply and demand. It can swiftly align its operations with changing market conditions and adapt fast to unexpected circumstances.
How do you create an agile supply chain?
You can create an agile supply chain by diversifying your supplier and manufacturing base, fostering effective collaboration between lines of business and among trading partners, and automating supply chain data collection and analytics processes. One of the best ways to improve supply chain agility is to leverage digital networking technology and multienterprise work management software, which help facilitate real-time information exchange, increase end-to-end supply chain visibility, and support collaborative workflows that allow for faster issue resolution.
What are the key characteristics of supply chain agility?
Supply chain agility is characterized by alertness, or the ability to detect and anticipate potential change and possible opportunities; accessibility, the ability to access accurate and relevant data about and across the supply chain; decisiveness, the ability to decide on an appropriate path of action to take in response to change; speed, the ability to take the necessary actions in the shortest possible amount of time; and flexibility, the ability to adjust tactics, strategies, processes, and structures in response to changing conditions.