How to Increase Accuracy in Supply Chain Management

Accuracy is an essential ingredient in supply chain management. Without it, managers have a more difficult time making the right decisions for their organizations.

There are three main ways organizations can improve the accuracy of their supply chain system. First, use barcodes and scanners. Second, use inventory management software to organize the data. Third, automatically update the accounting database at the same time as the inventory database.

1. Using Barcodes and Scanners

With the help of barcode software and portable scanners, organizations can easily keep track of their inventory levels, place orders and accurately assess their ever-changing inventory needs.

When new products arrive, workers can scan them in and instantly update their inventory database. This saves time and reduces the risk of errors creeping into orders and inventories. If employees have to type product numbers and quantities into a computer by hand, they are more likely to make errors than if they scan product barcodes.

2. Using Inventory Management Software

Barcodes and scanners are great tools, but unless they have an organized place to put their information, they are useless. Inventory management software helps companies stay up to date on their inventory situation. An electronic inventory database can be instantly updated via barcode scanners so that at any given time managers know how many products they have and how many they need.

Inventory management software is also a good tool for estimating future inventory needs. Based on past sale cycles and changes in consumer demand, the software can help managers order more or less of certain products to maintain a balance between being overstocked and out of stock.

3. Updating Accounting and Inventory Databases

If managers have to enter the same information into multiple databases, they have a higher chance of making a […]

Cost-Cutting Solution: Inventory Management Software

When it comes to organizations’ finances, some years are better than others. It’s no secret that for many in the private and public sectors, the last few years have been on the lean side.

It requires creativity for a company or government department to tighten its belt without cutting its services or quality. With fewer goods being sold, companies earn less money and the government takes in less in sales and payroll taxes.

How can these organizations effectively cut costs and maintain their overall strength? One way is with inventory management software. Inventory management software is an automated system for keeping track of inventory levels, product shipping and sales.

Two typical inventory-management problems that can hurt organizations’ financial health are having too much or too little inventory. Many times, a company or government department purchases products or parts in bulk to ensure they have enough on hand to meet demand the moment an order comes through. They also may think the discount they get by buying a large number of products or parts will offset any potential risks.

However, this strategy leaves them vulnerable to product spoilage and obsolescence. An overstock of products or parts also prevents the capital that was spent on them from being used in more productive ways. Organizations have a finite amount of capital to work with, so it’s important that they spend their money as effectively as possible.

Being understocked on products is what most organizations try to avoid. Not having enough inventory on hand causes manufacturing delays, and it can drive customers away.

To find a balance between an overstock and an understock of products, many groups turn to inventory management software. Using barcode scanners to receive, track and sell products, organizations can know […]

Supply Chain Inventory Management: Turning Methodology into Strategy

I’ve uncovered an interesting article by Chris Stephenson—writer for Manufacturers’ Monthly.  It was written a few months ago, but reads like a perfect companion piece to Terryl Benson’s post on supply chain inventory management—featured on this blog a few days ago.

Stephenson’s article talks about lean logistics methodologies as a primary improvement model for manufacturers, and how most enterprises fail to apply these methodologies across their supply chain networks.

The article provides a number of good recommendations, but three in particular stood out:

Invest time in back-end business planning, up-to-date enterprise and supply chain planning, and execution applications.
Review outdated legacy IT and traditional ERP systems to ensure they fit with your networked supply chain model.
Embrace technology to help meet customer demand for service through an increasing number of [service] channels.

What struck me about the article (aside from its reinforcement of sound, supply chain inventory management principles) was the way it outlined challenges currently facing the industrial private sector, and how they so closely parallel the logistical problems our government wrestles with.

At least, they are both uniform in their need for tighter integration, new enterprise-planning resources, and access to timely, reliable data sources.

Over the past year, Partnet had the opportunity to meet with government logisticians and planners from across the globe, and several highlighted these same concerns.  This is precisely why Partnet is developing new, integrated applications that improve supply chain visibility and reduce the need for planners and manufacturers to manage market variability with surplus inventories.

We feel it’s a step in the right direction.

New IT investments, however, are only part of the solution.  It’s up to manufacturing and logistics communities—whether private or public—to decide how to take lean methodologies and turn them into functional strategies.

(And […]

Contingency Contracts and the DOD’s Humanitarian Mission

According to the United States Southern Command (US SOUTHCOM), over 6000 US military personnel — alongside six naval vessels and 20 aircraft — are currently deployed to Haiti in support of the humanitarian relief effort to more than three million Haitians affected by the January 12th earthquake.

Increasingly, the US military finds itself in this position.  Because of its unrivaled ability to project and sustain large-scale operations over extended distances, the DOD is often called upon to support humanitarian assistance and recovery operations abroad—like those currently underway in Haiti, and now, Chile.  And increasingly, DOD is confronted with the problem of finding effective and feasible contingency logistics strategies.  In other words, finding fast, effective ways to supply our military personnel with the equipment and resources they need to carry out their missions.

In order to effectively manage its growing humanitarian commitments abroad, the DOD is looking towards IT-based solutions to facilitate its contingency contract process.  In the 2009 Quadrennial Defense Review, the DOD states that current supply-chain management processes inadequately address its responsibilities abroad.
“The conventional acquisition process is too long and too cumbersome . . . the Department [of Defense] must improve how it matches [logistical] requirements with mature technologies and maintain disciplined engineering approaches [to] institutionalize rapid acquisitions capabilities.” –Page xiv, 2009 Quadrennial Defense Review (Department of Defense).
Partnet is busy developing new IT-based solutions that will achieve this “rapid acquisition capability” the DOD is rightfully pursuing.  Among these innovations is an automated, contingency contract and planning tool that could be leveraged to enhance and support existing DOD logistical investments.  The goal is to create an integrated system capable of implementing contingency contracts with global vendors—as well as local suppliers—that quickly locates and sources mission-critical supplies […]

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