WHAT IS IT?
Phase Four is much like Phase Three, but the network is widened. Instead of making data easily accessible to other departments, the accessibility is extended to other businesses, both up and down the supply chain. This should not be a one-way street, ideally customers and suppliers will share data with each other, providing more visibility and productivity to everyone.
Rather than relying on phone calls and emails to communicate with customers, most information is transferred through the system. Customers have access to the system, likely directly or through a web interface, allowing them to get status updates or other information they need. In some cases, data is automatically transferred into the customers’ systems, meaning they have access to identical and up-to-date data. It works both ways, customers should provide access to their system, meaning the information needed to complete the customers’ jobs is automatically transferred, or at the very least available without having to call or email.
When done well, this phase means that customers can place orders electronically through the system rather than calling or emailing. They have access to all the information they need to make an order. This could be rates, availability, or expected due date. Your system captures the data needed and a job is created automatically. The customer can then track the job to completion, all without the need for disruptive calls or emails. This has the positive side effect of reducing the amount of admin work your staff need to complete such as job creation.
The same process applies when dealing with suppliers. They should be able to get all the information they need to complete the jobs without disrupting your staff.
The overall effect is an increase in communication with customers and suppliers while at the same time spending a lot less time communicating with them. It’s a win/win, everyone gets better and faster information available to them with a lot less ongoing effort. Better visibility provides more value and reduces the chance of nasty surprises, like finding out a job is delayed the same day it was supposed to be delivered.
Poor supply chain communication is the hidden productivity killer. It may only take 5-10 minutes to chase up information but doing it 5-10 times a day adds up fast. It’s not uncommon for 10-30% of the work day to be spent on the phone waiting for someone to find information.
EXAMPLES OF PHASE FOUR
Below are some examples of how this phase is supported.
- Customers keep track of progress markers on jobs through a web interface.
- Agents create jobs in your system when you are handling the import side for them.
- Reports automatically generated and distributed to customers or suppliers
Vastly improved productivity through:
- Reduction in admin work by data entry or sharing by customers and suppliers
- Instant two-way communication
- Reduced interruptions
- Improved data availability
- Fewer surprises