Pick a company. It can be in any sector. It can be any size. The company has a great strategy and a product or service that has potential to be the next big thing. What is the one link in the process of getting that service or product to market that can completely derail corporate growth?
The answer, of course, is supply chain. Without an efficient operational process, from start-up to enterprise, that company is going to struggle and possibly fail. Today, there are technology tools on the market that can help companies streamline everything from back-end supply to order delivery. There are a lot of options, but few are able to integrate all of the complexities of supply chain under one efficient dashboard.
This article takes a closer look at Microsoft Dynamics GP as a one-stop-shop for improving operational logistics.
Supply Chain Management Benefits and Drawbacks of Technology
As far back as 2013, MIT Sloan Management Review was publishing surveys from industry leaders that said the biggest drawback to operational improvement was the increasingly dispersed global supply chain. Supply chain challenges lead to higher costs, production mistakes, and in worst-case scenarios, lost clients and damage to the corporate brand.
Supply chain consultant Bossard suggests the important role that technology can play in making or breaking supply chain success:
Having access to the latest technology has proven to be a challenge.
Those who are able to effectively utilize the latest technology to their
advantage have been able to see the direct results to support
new product development.
As companies grow and spread out across geographies, it is typical for all of the elements of the supply chain to handled by multiple legacy platforms that could include accounting, billing, sales, and supply chain or project management. Standardization is difficult, as these disparate, often customized applications are not fully interoperable. Subsequently, while enterprise and mid-level organizations often rely upon technology to manage the supply chain, it is increasingly difficult to spot overarching patterns that negatively affect business performance. Processes are unwieldy, yet entrenched, and business leaders are hampered in their decision-making efforts because they don’t have the ability to make quick shifts in the marketplace (usually because they lack the data to drive insight).
Increasingly, these companies are transitioning to enterprise resource planning (ERP) software to manage supply chain and apply an integrated solution that brings together these disparate functions under one intelligent technology umbrella.
ERPs Unleash Supply Chain Management Benefits
Enter the era of the ERP. These platforms house all crucial business functions under one centralized hub, providing corporate leadership with a 360-degree view of their business. Microsoft GP is an advanced ERP platform designed to handle all of the front and back end business functions, including:
- Accounting and finance
- Human resources
- Inventory control
- Sales and receivables
- Supply chain management
- Workflows and project collaboration
GP is the string connecting all of these business functions. The practical application of one platform means all functions are integrated. Compare the before and after workflows of a typical sales process in order to fully understand the supply chain management benefits that naturally flow from installation of Microsoft Dynamics GP:
Sales Workflows Before Microsoft GP
Sales Workflows After Microsoft GP
Sales rep visits customer site only to find out that their previous order hasn’t arrived yet. Customer is upset at delay and sales rep feels blindsided.
GP travels with the sales rep, who has accurate up-to-the-minute details about client interactions with any department. The sales rep is more fully informed, organized, and efficient. Also, supply chain functions can be automated, which will help streamline order delivery to help prevent out-of-stock errors.
Sales rep closes deal and fills out order paperwork. Paperwork is manually entered several times into separate systems including: sales; production; inventory control and billing.
With GP, data is entered once and populates across multiple functions. This eliminates workflow redundancies and busywork that keep employees from focusing on what’s really important.
Managers fail to spot inventory trends that could lead to product shortage related to weather, market, or other issues.
Built-in reporting has cross-functionality across multiple departments. Reports can drill down for departmental managers or give the big picture details that the c-suite demands. These reports are not dependent upon IT to produce; instead, GP provides on-demand, standardized reporting for management.
Inter-departmental platforms are hyper-customized and virtually unrecognizable outside that user group.
Microsoft Dynamics GP has the familiar look and feel of many of the products office teams have used for years.
We know that the logistics of the supply chain stretch across multiple departments. The biggest benefit to Microsoft Dynamics GP is that these often-disparate departments are now unified, which allows for better insight and more efficient workflows.
Other benefits of Microsoft Dynamics for the supply chain include:
- Reducing complexities by consolidating technologies.
- Reducing costs by improving staff efficiencies.
- Automating and streamlining manual processes such as purchasing bottlenecks.
- Improving order accuracy by eliminating many redundant manual processes.
- The ability to monitor short and long-term purchasing trends that have a big impact on cash flow.
- Improving inventory accuracy by establishing a leaner, tighter controls process.
- Increase sales and improve customer relationships though improvements in corporate responsiveness.
An ERP platform can help combat the typical roadblocks to supply chain management that often plague companies – and hamper their growth.
Optimizing the Supply Chain
In contemporary times, supply chains can be sources of competitive advantage as efficient management of the supply chain leads to cost savings and synergies between the components of the supply chain leads to greater profitability for the firms.
“Supply Chains as Sources of Competitive Advantage”
One of the most crucial Microsoft Dynamics GP supply chain management benefits includes the ability to streamline the relationships between upstream and downstream stakeholders. GP impacts every link in the supply chain infrastructure, including raw materials, transport, inventory storage, production, and sales fulfillment.
The name of the global business game today is improving back office efficiencies while responding to business imperatives faster than the competition. Technology platforms like Microsoft Dynamics GP can help organizations get leaner by reducing costs. This could include automating basic internal functions that help you reduce the number of FTEs. Or, it could include removing the roadblocks that cause customer frustration when products or services are delayed. It can also improve order accuracy with the reduction of manual order entry – and manual errors.
Astutely managing supply chain is the number one improvement that can affect every department in your organization. Microsoft Dynamics GP can provide the leverage to change operations to achieve competitive advantage. Here’s how technology can actually optimize supply chain to make it a driver – not the hindrance – to your business:
- Computerized and integrated processes will reduce errors and consolidate inventory, shipping, tracking, and invoicing in one place.
- ERP platforms can also allow transparency for customers, letting them go online and check the status of an order. This transparency can stretch all the way to the back of the supply chain process, by providing accurate real-time data at every point in the business.
- Microsoft Dynamics GP can also be integrated with inventory control tools such as Panatrack, a scalable solution to manage a warehouse. Shipments can be validated against Dynamics GP as they happen with a simple handheld device that scans orders as they enter the warehouse. This is real time updating that ripples across the GP modules. Imagine the benefit of this real-time transacting in your warehouse management structure!
- Optimizing the supply chain means simplifying processes to improve their efficiency. The more links in the chain, the more room for error and the more time it takes to achieve fulfillment. Lowering the risks associated with the high costs of shipment errors while increasing communications with a global network of suppliers is simply good business sense.
Reducing the vulnerabilities associated with supply chain malfunction should remain a top priority for everyone in the business. The clear business mandate for all companies is plain: Reducing inefficiencies means cutting costs. Cutting costs means eliminating legacy technology platforms that make for inefficiencies. Integrating best-in-class technology models will improve your business by increasing customer satisfaction.
The entire idea behind Microsoft Dynamics GP is to create a seamless approach to the myriad parts and pieces that make up today’s modern supply chain functions. One software platform can improve logistics and drive sales. But making the switch to such a powerful application will take stakeholder buy-in, a solid implementation plan, and the will across departments to make it happen.
Here’s one of the biggest questions that every company must consider at some point in their growth trajectory: Is your technology helping or thwarting your success?
If you are interested in learning more about Microsoft GP’s features, please check out our previous post. Want to get started with GP? IES is standing by to show you how. Take a test drive of Microsoft Dynamics GP to start the process of organizational process improvement.