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Global Supply Chain

Managing Risk and Supplier Relationships

As supply chains stretched around the globe, they also became increasingly vulnerable. Events in one country can easily create ripple effects that cripple a company halfway around the world. This means careful scrutiny of potential partners, not just when signing a contract, but as an ongoing risk assessment process. With global partners, businesses also face complexities around regulatory standards and compliance.

NetSuite’s End-to-End Procurement and Compliance

NetSuite offers powerful tools for managing supplier relationships throughout the entire lifecycle. Its built-in approval workflows automate processes like vetting new suppliers, monitoring performance, and tracking regulatory compliance.  The software makes it seamless to collaborate across teams (legal, logistics, quality), reducing paperwork and improving transparency. Companies can ensure that their sourcing aligns with their ethics and the changing regulatory landscape on the global stage.

Data, Data Everywhere (And None You Can Use)

Modern supply chains produce massive amounts of data. The problem? This data is often siloed in disparate systems, creating confusion rather than clarity. Spreadsheets, separate inventory software, and emails filled with conflicting figures hinder progress. Businesses find themselves unable to leverage the information right in front of them for smarter decision-making.

NetSuite’s Data Analytics and Demand Planning

NetSuite gives businesses a central hub for data – their supply chain data,  sales data, financial data, and more. It goes a step further though, integrating powerful analytics and reporting tools. This transforms raw data into valuable insights. For example, by analysing historical trends alongside external factors, NetSuite’s demand planning software allows for improved supply and production forecasts. Managers gain crucial visibility, letting them optimise inventory, prevent shortages, and better adjust to shifting demand.

What We Have Learned and Can Take Into 2024

Agility as the New Priority

The pandemic demonstrated that supply chains require more than just speed. True resilience demands adaptability. Businesses need the ability to react swiftly to market fluctuations, shifting supplier capabilities, or transportation disruptions.  Outdated management systems and siloed data can hinder this agility. NetSuite’s cloud-based ERP empowers companies to respond strategically in an unpredictable environment.

In the wake of a global upheaval, the supply chain post pandemic has emerged as a complex puzzle that businesses are urgently piecing together. Adaptability and resilience have become paramount as companies work through new challenges to meet evolving market demands. 

As we step into a future shaped by recent disruptions, it’s critical to understand the transformations within supply chains. This insight not only prepares us for potential hurdles but also uncovers opportunities created by these shifts. The focus on building robust systems underscores the importance of strategic planning in achieving long-term success in our interconnected economy.

Supply Chains In the Eye of the Storm

If the pandemic exposed one thing, it was the hidden fragility of our supply chains. Overnight, businesses experienced cascading disruptions, demand shocks, and the strain of adapting to remote operations. Global supply chains were always complex, but those complexities took on a new level of danger. In the post-pandemic landscape, it’s not enough to return to ‘business as usual.’ Organisations need tools and strategies to build long-term resilience into every link of their supply chains.

Disrupted Flows, Shifting Demands

Predictability used to be a fundamental assumption in supply chain management. No longer. Manufacturers struggle to secure raw materials, shipping logistics are plagued by delays, and consumer behaviours have shifted in surprising directions. Businesses operating with outdated systems can find themselves paralyzed by this volatility. They lack the necessary speed and flexibility to adjust in meaningful ways.

NetSuite and Real-Time Visibility

NetSuite’s cloud-based ERP solution becomes a lifeline in these conditions. It provides businesses with real-time visibility across their entire supply network. Inventory levels, logistics data, sudden changes in demand – all of this crucial information is gathered within a centralised platform. Leaders have actionable data at their fingertips, allowing them to make smarter, faster decisions that mitigate disruptions. If something goes wrong, they can reroute shipments, expedite production, or seek alternative sources without losing critical time.

NetSuite and Real-Time Visibility

NetSuite’s cloud-based ERP solution becomes a lifeline in these conditions. It provides businesses with real-time visibility across their entire supply network. Inventory levels, logistics data, sudden changes in demand – all of this crucial information is gathered within a centralised platform. Leaders have actionable data at their fingertips, allowing them to make smarter, faster decisions that mitigate disruptions. If something goes wrong, they can reroute shipments, expedite production, or seek alternative sources without losing critical time.

The Need for Real-Time Visibility

Legacy supply chain management systems often leave business leaders with an incomplete and disjointed understanding of their supply networks. Fragmented data creates a reactive – instead of proactive – environment. Essential decisions get made with inadequate information, leading to unnecessary costs, lost opportunities, and strained operations.

NetSuite delivers an antidote to this problem. It offers real-time, end-to-end supply chain visibility through its centralised platform. Inventory levels, shipment tracking, demand shifts, and supplier updates are accessible seamlessly throughout the organisation. This data empowers businesses to pivot proactively when necessary and adjust their strategy before problems escalate.

The Need for Real-Time Visibility

Legacy supply chain management systems often leave business leaders with an incomplete and disjointed understanding of their supply networks. Fragmented data creates a reactive – instead of proactive – environment. Essential decisions get made with inadequate information, leading to unnecessary costs, lost opportunities, and strained operations.

NetSuite delivers an antidote to this problem. It offers real-time, end-to-end supply chain visibility through its centralised platform. Inventory levels, shipment tracking, demand shifts, and supplier updates are accessible seamlessly throughout the organisation. This data empowers businesses to pivot proactively when necessary and adjust their strategy before problems escalate.

The Importance of Diversified Supplier Relationships

With globalisation fueling a reliance on geographically diverse suppliers, companies must prioritise careful partner selection, continual monitoring, and compliance protocols. Unexpected events – whether economic, political, or environmental – can significantly impact an interconnected network.

NetSuite facilitates better management of supplier relationships throughout all stages of the process. Secure collaboration tools, compliance workflows, and automated vendor assessments reduce complexity and mitigate risks associated with partners around the globe.

Demand Planning in a Volatile World

Traditional demand forecasting methods, primarily based on historical trends, fall short in today’s marketplace.  Rapidly changing consumer behaviours, global events, and external market forces introduce new sources of volatility. Accurate forecasting now requires businesses to consider a wide array of internal and external factors.

NetSuite’s powerful demand planning tools give companies a crucial advantage. By integrating multiple data sources, including  internal sales trends,  real-time market shifts, and even AI-powered trend analysis, the platform offers more accurate forecasting of market needs. This information enables businesses to efficiently optimise their inventory levels, minimise stockouts, and identify upcoming sales opportunities.

Building the Resilient Supply Chain of the Future

The events of recent years made one thing certain: change is constant. Supply chain resilience is no longer a luxury; it’s a necessity for sustained growth and competitiveness.  NetSuite offers a proven, scalable solution that can help businesses of all sizes weather future storms. Its cloud architecture, comprehensive feature set, and commitment to integration provide a foundation that evolves with a business’s specific needs.

The challenges in optimising supply chains won’t disappear by themselves. By partnering with NetSuite, businesses establish adaptability as a core competency, positioning themselves not just for recovery, but for long-term growth. To see how NetSuite can address your specific challenges, contact a specialist today.

Frequently Asked Questions

How has the supply chain evolved post-pandemic?

The pandemic exposed the limitations of relying on single-source suppliers in far-flung locations. Many manufacturers are now moving parts of their operations closer to home, in a process called nearshoring or onshoring. This shortens lead times and makes it easier to shift production quickly if needed. Additionally, businesses are increasing inventory buffers, investing in predictive analytics software, and building more sustainable supply chain practices to increase overall resiliency.

What changes are being made in manufacturing supply chains?

Supplier Diversification: Instead of relying on just one or two key suppliers, manufacturers are expanding their network to include backup options or geographically diverse partners. This mitigates the risk of a single point of failure.

Nearshoring/Onshoring: In response to disruptions, we’re seeing a trend of bringing some manufacturing closer to target markets. This lowers shipping risks and can be beneficial for time-sensitive production.

Transparency and Traceability: Companies are using tools like blockchain and advanced tracking technology to gain full visibility into every step of their production chain. This helps monitor sustainability initiatives and spot possible bottlenecks.

How is automation impacting supply chain management?

Automation is one of the most significant shifts happening across the entire supply chain sector. Here are a few examples of its  effect:

Warehouse Automation: Automated picking/packing, self-driving forklifts, and robotics optimise fulfilment, reduce errors, and help meet rising demands in e-commerce.

Data-Driven Insights: Supply chains generate huge amounts of data. Automated analysis, powered by tools within a good ERP system, transforms raw data into actionable insights about demand, transportation costs, and more.

Real-Time Inventory Tracking: RFID tags, GPS monitoring, and interconnected logistics networks allow for constant visibility on inventory. This improves decision-making and minimises stock outs or overages.

What measures can address post-pandemic supply chain disruptions?

Agility Over Efficiency: While cost-cutting will always be a factor, long-term resilience outweighs chasing the absolute cheapest model. Flexible plans and diversified networks help weather sudden shocks.

Embrace Visibility Technology: Real-time data is crucial. Legacy systems, spreadsheets, and siloed information aren’t enough in today’s climate. Businesses need modern ERP technology for supply chain-wide visibility.

Contingency Planning: “What if…” scenarios and crisis drills should become standard processes. This means mapping out backup transport routes, alternative suppliers, and emergency action plans in advance.

In managing complexity and costs in the supply chain, what should be prioritised?

End-to-End Process Visibility: Understanding how processes interlink across the entire network is critical. It highlights inefficient procedures and identifies potential weak points.

Flexible Logistics: Partnerships with flexible transportation providers help when shipping routes suddenly become unreliable. This could mean diversifying carriers or working with 3PL providers who have vast transportation networks.

Inventory Right-Sizing: Using tools like accurate demand forecasting and smart allocation technology help businesses carry the right amount of stock without wasting valuable capital.

What risk management strategies are crucial for today's supply chains?

Predictive Analytics: This moves beyond historical trends, giving a forward-looking model of potential threats, supply delays, or demand shifts. Companies can then act preemptively, not just reactively.

Multi-Tier Supplier Relationships: Maintaining a healthy, ongoing dialogue with suppliers beyond just the main tier increases transparency and strengthens collaboration to solve problems proactively.

Strategic Buffer Stocks: While carrying too much inventory is costly, the pandemic made a powerful case for keeping strategic reserves, especially of critical components.

How are companies tackling skilled worker shortages in the supply chain sector?

Upskilling Programs: Many businesses are investing in training their current workforce on advanced technologies and processes essential to keep supply chains moving.

Technology as a Bridge: Using tools like AI, predictive maintenance, and automated alerts can ease pressure and minimise the need for specialised labour for certain tasks.

Creating Growth Paths: Making skilled worker positions in the supply chain appealing long-term requires good wages, opportunities for professional growth, and modern working environments.

Tiernan OConnor

Tiernan O'Connor is an accomplished Sales Director and NetSuite expert at DWR Consulting, a top-tier NetSuite Solution Provider and Implementation Partner. With over 25 years of experience in Sales, Marketing, Cloud ERP and technology, Tiernan has become a trusted authority in the NetSuite Partner community, helping businesses of all sizes streamline their operations and achieve success. Tiernan's in-depth understanding of NetSuite's capabilities and his extensive experience in implementing cloud-based ERP solutions have positioned him as a thought leader in the industry. He is known for his ability to identify and execute tailored strategies that meet each client's unique needs, ensuring they unlock the full potential of NetSuite's powerful features. Connect with Tiernan on LinkedIn

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