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Working Remotely in Supply Chain

The Covid-19 epidemic has highlighted the vulnerabilities of the traditional physically offices and ways of working together with external partners and suppliers. It introduces many companies to start working remotely in supply chain. How will that influence the way we work together? What are the benefits and how would Supply Chain management have to ensure adoption of a new culture and new technology? Read this text and learn about working remotely in supply chain.

Higher productivity and job satisfaction
Statistics are indicating that nearly twice as many are working from home full time. That is nearly twice as many as ten years ago. Why so? People feel a higher satisfaction, productivity and organizational commitment as well as decreased stress levels and exhaustion. This could also be the case when working remotely in supply chain.

Hire the best people
Some companies have gone all the way and are no longer maintaining an office. They have people working all around the globe and are trying to exploit new technology to the fullest. The “all remote model” allows companies to hire the best people wherever they are. For some companies it would mean reducing cost because they would not have to pay high rent and perhaps also high salaries.

Effective culture
The company named GitLab has over 1000 people located in 60 countries around the world. They have no physical offices. They have not only experienced a financial impact but are also reporting a cultural impact. Normally offices breed politics. Intrigues, backstabbing, toadying and other forms of power brokering behavior thrive behind closed doors. Removing the walls fundamentally changes organizational culture. The assumption is, that a dispersed company committed to open discourse, with no political manoeuvring, will work more cohesively than a standard co-located company.

Harness and grow supplier innovation
Supply Chain innovation is a way to create new competitive advantages. Suppliers and partners play a key role. Best-in-class companies work closely with suppliers and partners long after a deal has been signed.

In most circles today, this is called “supplier relationship management.” But that translates to one-way communication (telling the supplier how to do it). Two-way communication, which requires both buyer and seller to jointly manage the relationship, is more effective. A more appropriate term for this best practice could be “alliance management,” with representatives from both parties collaboratingr to enhance the buyer/supplier relationship.

Doing this in a remote setting could mean building a “collaboration platform”. In this platform the supplier/partner could be onboarded/offboarded, it could be a way of working with problem resolution ensuring that the relationship stays healthy and vibrant. It could be a way of sharing progress on key targets. Not to forget to mention that it is a brilliant way of working towards Supply Chain innovation.

The potential is big. According to a recent survey done by State of Flux, 64% of the questioned companies use portals for handling contracts with suppliers. Only 21% use portals to manage the relationships with the suppliers and only 6% use technology to manage supplier Innovation.

Improve Joint Planning
Besides working remotely in Supply Chain towards innovation, a collaboration platform is also a great way to engage suppliers and partners in the planning, both on a strategic and operational level. Sales and Operations Planning (S&OP) processes and Supply Chain Risk Management have become increasingly important, when developing a shared view of how to run a company. A collaboration platform, that builds on real-time data, can support lowering business risk, improving visibility and communication so the decisions that are made are as effective as possible.

The Supply Chain of yesterday, where stable conditions, standardized products, low cost production and very inventory-based operations will most likely not come back. Instead we will have a Supply Chain of tomorrow, characterized by increased uncertainty, more customized products, a very conscious consumer. By applying technologies that will be part of the future industry you can support your Supply Chain organization in meeting these demands. You can learn more about this at Optilon SCC2020.

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