How Much Technology Does Your Supply Chain Embrace?

Juniper_Innovations_how_modern_is_your_supply_chainMany Supply Chains have embraced ERP, WMS, TMS, APO and many other solutions to advance efficiencies and have more productive working practices.  Has your Supply Chain however gone far enough?  Compare how your Supply Chain management works given the advances in technology available.  How far are you really embracing technology or are you still stuck in the 1990’s?

Fancy a working lunch?

Once upon a time you’d arrange to physically see colleagues in a meeting room, pass around photocopied agendas and minutes, have someone take notes to be typed up later and maybe have a few sandwiches and pots of tea & coffee.  These days however with online software such as Skype, AOL Instant Messenger, Campfire, Convore, IRC, Eqo, Zoho Chat, or other online chat software, meetings are remote, last all day and the need to gather around in a single location is nearly a thing of the past.

With these applications, text chat is at the core however document sharing, video conferencing and voice chat is only a click away.

For us, this speeds up project implementations, system designs, data analysis, sales demonstrations and process consultancy.  It reduces travel time, expenses, elapsed project time, makes better use of people’s working time and enables better round the clock support where required.

Let me type that up and get it over to you

Following your meeting you’d ask someone to type up the minutes, actions, other notes and documents before printing and sending them to colleagues to review, make amendments and pass them back. Only for you to review and agree the changes.  Whilst emailing and office software on laptops and PCs has sped this up, there can still be longer than necessary elapsed time between agreeing and approving changes.  These days collaborative real time document sharing enables online sharing of documents for real time editing, locking down of document sections under change control and enabling online agreement in real time.  With online editing software such as Google Apps, Microsoft Office 365 &’s Chatter, editing is no longer back and forth.  It can be achieved and shared immediately.

Sorry I missed your call, when you get this message please call me back..

When you’re trying to meet or get in contact with colleagues, meetings used to be pre-arranged either in office sites or pre-agreed off-site locations.  If your colleagues turned up on time then great, if not you’d have to wait.  Then came mobile phones, texts and push emails allowing you to keep in contact, however you suffer from restrictions such as one to one conversing and relying on colleagues to reply to your messages.  So making ad hoc arrangements with a group of colleagues is still a challenge.  With mobile apps however such as Beluga or GroupMe you can send a message to a whole group instantly, reduce and eliminate phone tag by opening the app to see everyone’s location and arrange to meet in a central location.

The systems a bit slow today, but after we’ve rebuilt the server things will improve

When networks ran slow, server usage was being pushed to the limits at peak times and co-workers productivity suffered, the solutions were to add more or rebuild servers.  Then outsource server solutions came to the rescue when your business used third party hosting to improve network and server performance at a lower cost.  Now Cloud solutions are available, allowing increased server performance and storage at the click of an online button, with pay as you go options for businesses to only pay for what they use and flex up and down as they see fit.

Productivity will improve when one of the trainers visits and completes the course with the employees

Training used to be limited to trainers scheduling a site visit or your employees going to a training centre.  Trainees used to come back to the office armed with folders full of print outs, many of which would be put in storage cupboards and never read.  Then came electronic documents being emailed to to trainees however these still suffered from not being kept up to date and shared with employees as business processes changed.  Large training documents also suffered from being stored on a PC or server and like their printed versions before them, never opened.

Nowadays we use realtime online help notes with our solutions that allow collaborative editing, alignment to business processes and can be found easily within the software solution you are using. This can be supplemented with video tutorials specific to parts of the system that actually show you buttons to press, folders to use and how to successfully overcome technical and business problems. Approaches like this can improve productivity quickly since they are being used to solve specific problems on demand.

So how much are you embracing modern technology?  Or do you find yourself 10, 20 or 30 years behind?