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Maintaining an efficient and productive supply chain is the backbone of any successful business, and ensuring that your supply chain is well-managed and cost-effective is of vital importance.

Surprisingly though, many businesses aren’t operating the chain as smoothly as they could. When it comes to your logistical operations, you need to be thinking about several key things. For example, do you have:

  • Full data visibility across your business?
  • Teams that can communicate easily?
  • Teams that can make informed decisions independently?
  • A system where problems are caught and solved quickly?

If the answer to any of these questions isn’t a resounding ‘yes’, you may not be getting best use out of your tools.

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Coordination and tracking data between different departments and partners within the supply chain can be stressful. This, combined with the fact that 60% of online consumers between 18-34 expect same-day delivery, means pressure is mounting for businesses today.

This is where cloud-based ERP (Enterprise Resource Planning) systems can help. In 2017, 81% of businesses were either in the process of implementing an ERP, or had already completed an implementation.

An ERP system essentially streamlines administration, consolidating all information and business processes from across the supply chain, which has a hugely positive impact on productivity. Here’s how:

Improved communication and collaboration

The top two reasons why people implement an ERP system are to improve performance and make people’s jobs easier, according to research by Panorama Consulting.

The problem with traditional working practices is that different departments don’t necessarily communicate frequently or effectively; instead, they operate in siloes. This means it’s often difficult for employees to get the information they need at the right time.

An ERP is a standardized system that gives everyone access to the same platform and information in real time. Data can be viewed and shared easily—whether on mobile, tablet or desktop—meaning collaboration is easier, duplication of work is eliminated, and there’s capacity for better customer service.

Automation of time-killing tasks

An ERP system automates basic day-to-day business activities like workflows and record-keeping. Repetitive tasks that used to be done by hand, such as generating delivery notes and invoices, are significantly reduced, meaning supply chain workers can focus on more important tasks that add value and deliver results. For example, modern ERP systems increase on-time deliveries by 21% through automation, according to research by the Aberdeen Group.

Provides accurate and insightful reporting

The way data is interconnected in an ERP system means you can get a 360-degree view of the business at any given time, and then turn this raw data into actionable insight. Most systems have a dashboard view where you can see the bigger picture, drilling down into the data you need quickly and easily—whether that’s to fix a problem and make processes more efficient, or find a new business opportunity.

Over time, your supply chain data will accumulate, and machine learning tools can be applied. Applying machine learning and AI will not only reduce errors, but also help businesses make better decisions by generating forecasts and predictions based on previous activity within the supply chain. Businesses can ultimately price things more effectively, have better inventory tracking, and schedule assets more accurately.

Allows for effective, minimally invasive security

Many don’t see the connection between security and productivity, but the two are often closely linked. For example, if a business loses data, the aftermath can have a huge impact on everyone. As information is centralized in an ERP system, this makes it easy for businesses to set up automatic, scheduled backups to minimize downtime if things go wrong.

When it comes to identity and access management, IT security practices often hinder productivity. Employees can get accidentally locked out of systems, forget their passwords, or get bogged down in lengthy verification processes. With an ERP system, users can access important documents through a single sign-on service, which means they only have to remember details to access one system.

Machine learning tools within an ERP can also instantly block unauthorized access, and alert administrators of any suspicious activity. At the same time, an ERP can also recognize routine behaviors and make it easy for those who have the correct credentials to access the system, boosting employee satisfaction and productivity in the process.

Author bio:

Ben Chong is Team Leader at Washington Frank International, part of the niche IT recruitment firm Frank Recruitment Group. Ben specializes in hiring talent for ERP projects across the world.