Will Supply Chains Go All-Digital in 2017?

In a recent post, one blogger described how more companies would move towards fully digital, connected supply chains.  Although he was writing specifically about the Food Industry, the move toward an all-digital supply chain makes sense across practically every single industry.  

Manufacturers are partnering with more suppliers than ever before. This vast network of geographically dispersed and culturally diverse partners is difficult to oversee. That can expose companies to risk of falling out of compliance, or putting an unsafe product on the market.     

This creates the need for a centralized system where full transparency and visibility are possible. For food supply chains, digitization through a quality management system (QMS) software solution means tracking products from farm to fork.  But, the concept of a fully digital, connected supply chain clearly applies to other verticals.

A Digital Quality Management System Makes Sense in Every Industry

Consider the electronics industry. Raw materials are mined by one or more supply chain partners. These materials are then manufactured into components by other partners, which are then used at a different facility where final assembly is completed.

Quality management systems automate and digitize supplier qualification records so the right suppliers are being used.  That makes compliance reporting far easier.  Companies will also have an easier go at tracking supplier workflows to ensure processes are being completed on-time, on-budget, and without any adverse events. 

In the pharmaceutical and medical industries, contract manufacturing organizations are used to save on costs and meet customer demands. However, problems can arise when there isn't active communication and quality standards aren't set. Finding errors early on and keeping a record of non-conformances is crucial to avoid problems later in the supply chain. And if it reaches the point of sale and the customer's home, any quality errors could be disastrous and costly.  

Why the Successful Companies Will Move Away from Outdated QMS

The most successful companies will ditch the manual systems of the past where things were done on Excel sheets or, worse, paper, and choose to digitize their supply chains.  The easiest way to make that transition is through a comprehensive cloud-based and/or on-premise quality management system.  

A digitized, fully connected supply chain where everyone is on the same page is the best way to ensure stronger collaboration. It also empowers a business to maintain control over supply chain partners and vendors to retain quality standards. If there is a problem, users can identify it more quickly and correct it before the product reaches market.   

Finally, digitization allows companies to respond better to customer demands, market changes, and the loads of data received through stronger visibility and transparency. In a post for CFO.com, Kris Timmermans argued that digitization enhanced a supply chain's agility and allowed it to scale up and down as circumstances require and do so more rapidly without affecting product quality.

The goal of the fully digital, connected supply chain is to create one holistic network within and outside of the company that mitigates risk and instead enhances efficiency and, ultimately, value. This can often be achieved by implementing a best-in-class quality management system.

To learn more about collaborating with suppliers on quality, click here

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