For more than 25 years, companies and solution providers have tried various methods to connect enterprise systems operating at different nodes of the supply chain to enable supply chain digitalization. The goal of these investments has been to gain the benefits of information exchange and to orchestrate supply chain operations:
- EDI executed through third-party value-added networks
- Control towers layered on top of enterprise applications
- Point-to-point integrations of enterprise systems based on information exchange protocols like FTP and AS2
- First-generation multienterprise supply chain business networks designed to share data through proprietary cloud applications
Ultimately, all approaches have failed to enable true supply chain digitalization in the form of highly-collaborative, network-wide supply chain process execution and orchestration—this can more accurately be labeled “supply chain work management.”
The primary factors leading to the overall industry-wide failure to achieve supply chain digitalization and highly orchestrated supply chain work management include:
- Low Engagement and Productivity: Point-to-point (P2P) integrations are built over time to exchange selected data between the company and one partner or a small group of partners, and it is prohibitively expensive to extend these integrations to all supply chain partners.
- Slow Response Time: While control towers provide some visibility into the flow of orders, shipments, and deliveries to points in the supply chain and generate exceptions, they are not connected to supply chain partners to enable collaborative resolution. This leads to the need for follow-up emails and phone calls that result in a longer resolution time.
- Limited Third-Party Usage: While portals might be considered a shared application, they take a one-size-fits-all approach and lack the customized experiences required to meet the unique needs of different supply chain partners. The failure to deliver customized experiences, while maintaining a consistent and unified navigation, leads to low adoption or limited usage of portals.
- Difficult Scaling and Evolution: Business users responsible for digitalizing shared supply chain partner processes must rely on IT groups for all deployments and customizations. As the business process evolves, business users create more and more customization requirements for IT and must wait for solutions. This dynamic means supply chain digitalization projects evolve much too slowly. To be successful, the business users leading digitalization need the digital tools to evolve processes themselves without creating new requirements for IT.
Five Critical Capabilities of Opus Solution Designer that Support Supply Chain Digitalization.
Opus Solution Designer is a simple and powerful tool that enables digital business users to quickly and easily make changes to user experiences, data models, access rights, workflow (and much more!) to ensure solutions meet current business / supply network needs and can be updated as requirements change. The five core capabilities of Opus Solution Designer include:
The Incident process in the Supply Chain Work Management solution provides three base states for an Incident, including “To Do,” “Under Investigation,” and “Closed.” A manufacturing company might want to add an additional sub-state called “Triage” for one of the process networks to encourage users to create all types of issues. The manufacturing company can then use the “Triage” state to decide if an issue can be resolved quickly or if it requires further detailed investigation.
Expand Shared Data
Say a manufacturer and supplier partner want to better understand why a received item was put on “Quality Hold”. The manufacturer who has deployed Supply Chain Work Management can use Opus Solution Designer to add an additional field, “Reason for Hold,” to the Incident Management process. Adding this additional field would also help the supplier more quickly understand what they need to do to resolve the issue. Having more complete explanations for issues, such as quality holds, enables the manufacturing company to use this data more effectively in continuous improvement projects.
With a virtually unlimited number of processes that can be supported with the Task Management capabilities of Supply Chain Work Management, expanding shared data makes clear the input data that is expected from partners. For example, to create a purchase order collaboration process, the supplier response subtask could be expanded to include fields for “Original Due Date” and “Requested Due Date” fields.
Customize Out-of-the-Box Solutions
Manufacturing companies may want to adopt an agile methodology to implement the TraceLink Supply Chain Work Management solution, thereby minimizing the risks of waterfall implementation and speeding reaction to changing business needs. Companies can quickly start with the out-of-the box processes included with the Supply Chain Work Management solution and begin by deploying them at a small scale for internal engagement. Business users can then iteratively test the solution, learn from the results, and use Opus Solution Designer to make custom changes to processes, data attributes, or role-based access, and then expand the solution to external users in measured steps and over time.