There is a scene in the movie "Bull Durham" in which the coach of a struggling baseball team is extremely frustrated with his players. What has always stuck out to me in this scene was the coach’s demand for the team to get back to basics. A big quote that has stayed with me was, "You throw the ball, you hit the ball and you catch the ball."
Let’s apply the same thought to the supply chain.
You buy the inventory, you transform the inventory and you sell and service the inventory.
At the center of every supply chain is inventory. All actions and reactions are first and foremost based on understanding the status of your inventory.
To succeed in the digital economy, companies must be able to deliver what the consumer wants, when they want it at the price they’re willing to pay. If the consumer doesn’t understand the status of the inventory, it becomes difficult to meet their needs profitably.
Additionally, the pace of change makes fulfilling those needs an even greater challenge. Distribution channels are changing. Tools are changing. Customer expectations are changing. In order to survive, your supply chain must have flexibility built into its foundation. If you’re not flexible enough to adapt to the changes and expectations, someone else will.
Even with these changes and expectations, you still have to buy the inventory, transform the inventory and sell and service the inventory. To accomplish the basics, you have to be able to see and understand the status of your inventory and you have to trust the information. It seems so simple. Yet many companies struggle with the visibility of their inventories and these foundational areas.
I’d like to encourage all of us to step back and make sure we have the basics covered so we can ensure future success. Let’s start at the beginning.
You Buy the Inventory
Full inventory visibility is critical when you are about to buy inventory. There are multiple data points to take into consideration. On time delivery, acceptable quality and proper storage areas are among these points.
In order to get better pricing, the buyer has to know how much inventory is on hand versus how much is required. Material requirements planning (MRP)/advanced planning systems help calculate that buy. However, the calculation is only as good as the data within. As a result, if the inventory data isn’t accurate, timely and relevant, the MRP suggestions won’t be either.
If the buyer isn’t aware of acceptable vendor performance in on-time and quality deliveries, problems will surface further in the supply chain processes. The result: excessive costs for rework, downtime and returns.
Likewise, if the warehouse isn’t provided some indication of where to store the inventory or when to move it, and has to wait for data entry to catch up, then they may lose the status of the inventory. The problem snowballs with increased non-value added processing time.
Accurate inventory visibility is critical for systems to work. Manufacturing may start the transformation process but end up stopping due to part shortages that the system of record was not aware of, adding extra costs to the process. Programs like point-of-use and vendor managed inventory can help “lean out” your operations. But, if you don’t have accurate inventory status, these programs will not provide the results you’re looking for. They may even end up becoming a liability.
The Path to Inventory Visibility
To help solve these concerns, DSI’s Digital Supply Chain Platform™ has many different prebuilt and pre-integrated apps that aid in the transactional support required to ensure the information in your systems of record is accurate, timely and relevant. The support provided includes incoming/receiving, quality inspection, directed put away, cycle counting, vendor managed inventory and full support for any remote locations.
The Digital Supply Chain Platform also provides the ability for companies to change their business processes as needed to take advantage of continuous improvement programs without waiting for major software upgrades. DSI provides companies the capabilities required to excel in buying the inventory through improved inventory visibility and adapt to new tools and processes.
Want to discuss ways of improving your inventory visibility? Contact us today.
Stop by next week to learn about optimizing the next step: transforming inventory.