Supply Chain

By Christian Green, Kepner-Tregoe

Cloud technologies have been available for more than 20 years, but supply-chain professionals have been slow to adopt cloud solutions. For many reasons, however, cloud solutions offer many benefits for the modern supply chain.

Tracing products though their entire lifecycle is much easier when using cloud-based solutions. Being able to track products also significantly reduces the possible loss of products, as they can be located at any stage of transport. Using cloud-based supply management also helps with quick decision-making and fast communications when you must reroute a shipment for any reason.

The Benefits of Cloud-Based Supply-Chain Management

The challenges of moving from traditional supply-chain management to cloud systems can be daunting, but the benefits can be greater than any risks or challenges.

The benefits of cloud-based supply management include:

  1. Scalability – Businesses are in a constant state of change, and your IT systems must have the capability to evolve if you are to adapt successfully to changing needs. Using cloud services will allow you to scale your offerings rapidly without a huge investment in infrastructure and software systems.

  2. Rapid deployment – Implementing new software in-house can take months, but when you are upgrading or implementing new supply-chain systems in the cloud, a specialist supplier can have your new service up and running within days, or weeks. It may take more time to transfer your data to a new cloud-based system, but most providers are able to offer expeditious services.

  3. Cost benefits – Scaling services in the cloud is much more economical than for an in-house installation. Resources are available immediately, and on-demand at the cloud provider’s facility.

  4. Efficiency – Utilizing cloud-based services allows you to move technical staff, who would have been performing system management tasks, to other areas, such as research and product development. This allows you to innovate quicker without having to assign additional staff. Outages are generally greatly reduced when using cloud services, because a dedicated team is available to limit downtime.

  5. Accessibility – Onsite systems may require employees to be on premises to access information. Cloud computing will be available to staff wherever they are. Drivers, managers, technicians and any others will be able to access the information they need from anywhere, greatly increasing efficiency.

  6. Flexibility – With instant access to information about the location of your products, combined with up-to-the minute news on any issues expecting transport, you will be able to make decisions quickly to reroute goods when necessary. You can see where shipments are moving slowly and act to move these quickly to their destination. Cloud services mean that much less will be left to chance.

One of the core problems of supply-chain management has always been knowing the location of your products at any point in the process. With normal, onsite operating systems, this often only requires a phone call or an email, and providing you with an answer, at best, within a few minutes, but more likely within a few hours, or even days.

Modern, cloud-based supply-chain-management systems will provide you with this information in real-time, on-demand. Supply-chain visibility, once regarded as the holy grail of supply-chain management, is now a reality.

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