Having visibility of your entire supply chain is critical so that your business can continue to operate without interruption. As we’ve seen over the last few years supply chains are especially fragile and if only one element breaks down or if an unforeseen event happens, and the consequences can be less than ideal.
Yet while achieving visibility is something everyone would like there continues to be significant gaps for warehouses that impede this. One of the biggest contributing factors to this are technology systems that are unable to efficiently communicate with one another.
If this is the case how can businesses and warehouses better improve their supply chain visibility, avoid disruptions, and proactively address challenges when they do arise?
One of the major tools that help to manage a business’ supply chain is their WMS. Now we’re not suggesting that your WMS will be the be all and end all of your supply chain visibility, but it will play a major role as it is the main driver for your inventory management and control, as well as your warehouse fulfillment and logistics management.
Your WMS ultimately helps in providing visibility both internally and externally. These both influence your supply chain, and we’ll discuss how.
Internal visibility involves everyone within your organization. This would include your warehouse staff, procurement department, sales team, and finances, amongst others. Each has a role when it come to your supply chain. By increasing internal visibility each of these members of your organization will be better able to work and plan so that your supply chain is meeting your business’ needs and those of your customers and partners.
On the other hand, external visibility allows your organization to share information and aspects of internal visibility with those who have a part in or that rely on your supply chain like suppliers, customers, and various partners. External visibility thus lets those on the outside of your organization to plan and react accordingly by standardizing how information is shared with each of these entities.
A WMS can help in a big way to allow for the sharing of data either internally or with external parties. The quicker and the easier you make information available to each party the more efficiently your business can react ensuring that your supply chain remains uninterrupted.
As we mentioned before though communication, especially between systems, is often a barrier to supply chain visibility. So how can this be remedied? Consolidating your WMS and other key business tools on one platform is a great strategy to do this. By using one platform for your financial software, CRM, TMS, WMS, and other core solutions you make the sharing and access to information fluid. Furthermore, your staff do not need to learn multiple platforms, go between each for information, duplicate data, or support their processes with paper.
Akatia’s WMS for Salesforce, WAM, is a perfect example of this. Since WAM is on Salesforce you can make warehouse data available – for example to your sales team as they go about their customer interactions or as they do their costing and quoting (CPQ in Salesforce) – to all your supply chain related departments.
Consolidating your business tools also lessens the need for integration which can require significant maintenance and are cost prohibitive.
From the external point of view having a WMS allows you to create partner portals that are easily accessible and allow you to efficiently communicate information to external parties. This would include sharing inventory information, pertinent documents, and even allow simple task functionality like placing orders or arranging inbound shipments.
It’s thus important to look for tools and functionality in your WMS that will help your business better communicate supply chain related information. Here is a short list of some of the features and functionality to look for:
Integrated with CRM, TMS, financial software, carriers, and CPQ (configure products, price, quoting).
Out of the box reporting and dashboarding tools and features.
WMS with mobile scanner technology.
Process automation (if possible, configuring and not development).
Document generation and management.
Customer and partner portal that let you and your external parties communicate securely and efficiently.
Supply chain can be a challenge even for the best of businesses. As we’ve seen though the factors that lead to them like poor information sharing, and disjointed software solutions can be alleviated with the right approach and strategy. Having a WMS that allows for an internal 360 degree view of the warehouse and inventory, while also facilitating external visibility can go along way is reducing these challenges.
If you’re looking to transform the way you manage your warehouse and inventory, click the link below to get in contact with us. We’d be happy to speak with you!
Also for more information feel free to take a look at our Salesforce AppExchange listing for more information about WAM, the WMS for Salesforce.