Handling Different Types of Purchase Orders in Microsoft Dynamics 365

Handling Different Types of Purchase Orders in the Microsoft Dynamics 365

Handling Different Types of Purchase Orders in the Microsoft Dynamics 365 700 500 Xcelpros Team

By the Numbers

  • $35.88: The minimum cost of a PO according to APCQ.
  • $506.52: The estimated maximum cost of a manual purchase order according to APCQ.
  • $53-$741: The average cost range of POs according to CAPS Research.
  • $60,000: APCQ’s estimated annual cost associated with manually producing purchase orders.

POs and the departments that approve them

  • 8%: No approval required
  • 21%: Finance
  • 52%: Budget owners
  • 84%: Supply management


Today, purchase orders (POs) are the lifeblood of all companies, especially manufacturers. Being able to use POs properly helps in several different ways, including:

  1. 1.Simplifying the ordering process, making it easy to find approved items and place orders.
  2. 2.Aiding in budgeting by helping you determine how much you need to spend and how much you need to sell.
  3. 3.Enabling accurate planning by providing insights into company performance.
  4. 4.Warning of unexpected expenses when a PO is submitted, providing time to research it.
  5. 5.Confirming the quantity and price of goods bought or sold, eliminating miscommunication.
  6. 6.Providing legal protection against errors in quantities or unexpected price increases.
  7. 7.Controlling spending by limiting who can place and approve POs.
  8. 8.Tracking spending by providing details into where your money goes.
  9. 9.Helping manage vendors by seeing who delivers on time at the agreed price and who is late or constantly complaining.
  10. 10.Improving inventory management by telling you what should be arriving compared to what actually arrives.

Types of Purchase Orders

Most POs used today typically fall into one of four types. An automated purchase order system helps manage each of these types of POs.

1.Standard Used for one-time orders such as office furniture.

2.Planned purchase orders (PPOs)Typically lacking a delivery date and location, they are used for restocking items at irregular intervals.

3.Blanket purchase orders (BPOs), also known as “standing orders.”While similar to PPOs, they lack the known quantity and have uncertain delivery dates. Vendors may place limits on amounts so they can deliver.

4.Contract purchase ordersThey are used to set the terms and conditions for future purchase orders. Their primary function is ensuring a smooth ordering process.

The Disadvantage of Manual Purchase Order Systems

The job of a purchase order automation system is to send each PO to the appropriate staff member for review and approval. These systems leverage existing purchasing processes and rules to perform their jobs while protecting your business at the same time.

Modern automated systems often counter significant issues associated with older manual PO processes.

Figure: 1Disadvantages of an Manual PO System

Disadvantages of an Manual PO System

Compared to modern, automated systems, manually created POs tend to suffer from a number of drawbacks, including the following:

  1. 1.They’re less efficient
  2. 2.They’re paper heavy
  3. 3.They lack accountability
  4. 4.They open the company to security risks
  5. 5.They lack process regulation
  6. 6.They’re often time intensive

Using an automated system for POs in place of any older, manual processes results in a number of benefits, regardless of a company’s size:

  • Increased cost savings
  • Reduced human input error
  • More visibility into the PO process
  • Increased flexibility and control

Most importantly:

  • Improved process efficiency

Improving process efficiency is usually overlooked in a businesses day-to-day affairs, but this boost to efficiency is huge and provides a number of key benefits, including:

  • Significantly reducing the time between orders being placed and shipped.


  • Providing a verifiable audit trail so a manager wanting to know the status of a requested item can get a real-time view of the order. If a discrepancy occurs, the PO provides a written record.

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Benefits of a Modern PO Management System

According to a recent Altametrics blog, purchase order management “is an in-house procurement process implemented by businesses to ensure that every purchase is required, accounted for, and augmented for costs. The purpose is to ensure workers follow all policies and procedures before fulfilling a purchase order.”

Using a modern automated PO management system ensures that all orders are created, approved, and dispatched according to current policies and procedures set in place by the organization. These systems exist to ensure that your company has complete control of its purchasing and can make quick adjustments in the event of an emergency.

Once generated, these purchase orders are considered a binding contract

  • Company A agrees to pay the stated price for the listed items upon delivery from Company B.
  • Company B agrees to provide the goods on time, and at the agreed-upon price, terms and conditions.

If any mistakes are realized, a modern PO management system provides a streamlined way to quickly resolve any discrepancies.

Properly managed POs:

  • Eliminate overpayments
  • Reduce damaged goods
  • Save time
  • Eliminate inefficiencies

Modern PO management systems start by examining a company’s current methods to identify bottlenecks and ways to improve efficiency. These systems can strictly adhere to existing procurement policies and procedures using simple guidelines. This enables shop floor workers to make requests converted into accurate POs.

PO management systems also help to organize existing information. For example, they can create a real-time vendor management database showing which companies are approved. This lets buyers know who they can deal with to get what they need and when.

Another tangible benefit is the ability for workers to track the status of any current POs directly. Instead of having someone else take time away from their duties to provide an update, workers can quickly log into the system and find out themselves.

The best PO management systems make it easy to create and track POs and share the information seamlessly with other departments when included as part of an overall Enterprise Resource Planning (ERP) solution.

Procurement and Dynamics 365 Supply Chain Management

One of our favorite ERP solutions is Microsoft’s Dynamics 365, a modular ERP system that includes asset management and procurement functions in its Supply Chain Management module.

Located in the Asset Management > Common > Procurement > Work order purchase requisition section, this software shows a list of purchase orders related to work orders. It also shows how the purchased goods are used for assets, maintenance jobs, spare parts, and work orders.

This module can be configured to indicate any potential delays. The system can generate notifications giving management teams different options to resolve the issue

  • Wait out the delay or
  • Find an alternate supplier.

As well, work orders, job orders and purchase orders can all be tied to each other through the Supply Chain Management module. The end result is visibility:

  • Purchasing knows what items are in the pipeline,
  • The warehouse knows what is coming,
  • Production knows when the materials it needs will arrive, and
  • Sales knows when customers can expect delivery of their finished goods.

Note: Click here to see how to create a purchase order in Dynamics 365 Supply Chain Management.

Dynamics 365’s Supply Chain Management module also lets you control other aspects of the purchase order process. It provides a number of critical business functions, including creating purchasing policies, product receipts and invoices, and more. More than just a PO management program, Supply Chain Management also has direct ties to rebates, production controls, service management, transportation, warehousing plus sales and marketing.

By providing everything from an overhead view of your entire supply chain to the status of an individual PO, Supply Chain management provides companies of any size with the information they need to control their inventory.

The Bottom Line

Purchase orders continue to be an integral part of all businesses. Continuing to enter this data manually—and trying to keep track of it all on paper—makes the process cumbersome and prone to mistakes and expensive errors.

An automated PO management system, like that included in Microsoft’s Dynamics 365 solutions, helps reduce the number of manual inputs, ensures only permitted vendors are used, and simplifies the approval process, even automatically approving smaller purchases, debiting them to a department’s budget, or forwarding them to the correct department for approval.

Connecting this PO management system to your overall inventory control system is one of the best ways to ensure you always have the right materials on hand to meet your production and sales goals.

Best techniques for tracking and managing raw materials

Best techniques for tracking and managing raw materials

Best techniques for tracking and managing raw materials 700 500 Xcelpros Team

At a Glance

  • 18% – The hike in the Raw Material Price Index from 2020-2021 with at least another 10% hike expected.
  • 60% – The increased amount of raw materials extracted, harvested and consumed since 1980.
  • 117% – The increase in raw materials costs for non-food agricultural materials since 2000.
  • 359% – The cost increase in rubber since 2000.
  • 62 billion metric tons – The amount of raw materials used per year in 2008, an 8-fold increase since the early 1900s.


Today, manufacturing relies heavily on the ability to acquire raw materials, both directly and indirectly. Examples of direct raw materials are the chemicals, textiles, minerals and other components that become finished products. Indirect raw materials are components added to other parts that together make a finished product. Accurate tracking of these materials is a good way to determine if a company flourishes or fails. Both of these material types are listed as current assets.

Tracking raw materials typically starts when they enter a warehouse. Their value is calculated from the start of a given time and adding costs such as storage, shipping, processing and labor to determine total value. Before you can build, mix or blend your products though, you have be sure to acquire them. Obtaining the essential materials you need to create your products is the end result of an involved process.

Obtaining Raw Materials

One of the first things to do before you start acquiring raw materials for your products is sufficient planning. Raw material planning can be used to determine how quickly you use each item, but only once you understand your inventory turnover rate – the number of times you use your raw materials.

In a previous post, we stated that “Materials planning is the method used to determine the requirements and quantities of raw materials to implement production.” If you don’t have enough raw materials on hand, you can add delays to your production schedule, or even lose orders altogether. If you keep too many materials on hand, there may not be enough budget available for other projects, like capital improvements.

A critical part of materials planning is understanding lead time: how far in advance do you need to place orders with your suppliers to get what you need in order to satisfy your customers?

Being sure you can order what you need requires a procurement management plan that, “defines requirements for a particular project and lays down the steps required to get into the final contract,” including raw materials.

This plan sets and defines everything you need to manufacture your products: what to buy, who to buy it from and how much you’ll pay. This includes determining purchase costs plus delivery and storage costs, also referred to as inventory costs. Placing an order, or receiving one from a customer, often uses an order management plan.

If your departments are unable to report how much of a given product, or the raw materials required in the process, are on hand, entire orders can be lost. When production tells sales one thing, but inventory says something else, the end result can be chaos. This is where accurate, frequent, communication that tracks the flow of raw materials through the entire acquisition process becomes critical.

Inventory Management

“Inventory management is important to small businesses because it helps them prevent stockouts, manage multiple locations and ensure accurate recordkeeping. An inventory solution makes these processes easier than trying to do them all manually.”

A chef can make a large salad using a full head of lettuce but only a teaspoon of spices. Managing inventory is often similar: A manufacturer is likely to have some items they use in large quantities, such as active pharmaceutical ingredients (APIs). Equally important are the catalysts and other chemicals bought in much smaller lots. Like a chef making a salad, without their ingredients, they don’t have a product.

Inventory management not only tracks what you have on hand, it also looks at your supply chain: making sure you have options for getting what you need when you need it. One part of inventory management is getting your basic supplies: making sure your customers receive their finished products when they need them is another. Having viable shipping options to ensure your merchandise arrives on time means gathering even more information and constantly updating your options. A common option used by a large number of companies, especially retailers, is vendor managed inventory.

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Vendor Managed Inventory

Commonly referred to as VMI, vendor managed inventory is when a company lets its suppliers determine the amount of product a company has in stock. If you walk into a grocery store you might see people who are not market employees stocking shelves. These are vendors – these employees track inventories, place orders, monitor shipments and stock shelves.

According to American Express, benefits of a VMI include:

Figure: 1Benefits of Vendor Management Inventory

Example of a Barcode

  • Improved efficiency You have the right quantities on hand to meet your needs without going overboard and having too much or too little.
  • Cost reduction Having accurate inventories means few if any disruptions to sales, thereby providing better customer service.
  • Reduced complexity Depending on your products, you may be able to reduce the number of vendors. The result is a predictable and reliable inventory schedule.
  • Data insights Your supplier can anticipate demand, helping you prepare for seasonal and market-driven trends.

Working with a single VMI has some negatives as well as positives. Three of the biggest challenges, according to AmEx, include:

  • Loss of control Someone else determines what products you have and therefore what you’re able to sell. Using a VMI also means an outside company has access to your private data. Data security can be a major issue, especially when you first start working with a vendor.
  • Limited options It’s tough to make a fruit salad when the only fruit available is an orange. Your product choices may be limited and you might become dissatisfied if your vendor fails to deliver at the best price.
  • Market agility Working with a single vendor reduces your ability to pivot when markets change. For example, some whiskey manufacturers were having problems selling their goods when the Covid-19 pandemic took hold. A few of the more enterprising companies were able to switch from making whiskey to producing alcohol-based hand sanitizer. Using a VMI might eliminate this flexibility to quickly change in response to market conditions.

Looking at your options and picking the best ones often comes down to software. Managing your raw materials and inventory accurately, especially when your company is growing and has distant suppliers, generates a lot of data. Managing this vast amount of data requires capable software.

Software Options

Depending on your needs, two types of software can help with your raw materials management, inventory management, order management, procurement management, stock management and resource planning needs:

  1. 1.Customized products designed to perform a specific function for a single industry with a company at a particular size. If your company is unlikely to grow, one or more of these products might be perfect for your needs. Using this type of software, you will likely need one product for each requirement. This is likely to mean using several different providers, potentially creating data exchange roadblocks. A second option offers greater flexibility, the option to handle many of these needs in a single package while also growing with you.
  2. 2. A modular Enterprise Resource Planning (ERP) product such as Microsoft Dynamics 365 Supply Chain Management is a large, versatile product capable of helping you track inventories from far-flung suppliers into, through and out of your warehouse. Microsoft Dynamics products are based in the cloud and offer added data security since they’re built on Microsoft’s Azure platform. Modular systems let you add sections when needed while maintaining constant communication between the modules. Using a system from the same company also ensures constant data flows, reducing inventory data errors.

The Bottom Line

Especially today, managing raw materials accurately requires a lot of work and attention to detail. Errors at any stage of the process – from ordering to shipping, storing or using – can result in expensive repercussions.

Finding the right software solution means evaluating your current and future inventory needs. What do you need now? Will solving today’s problem also work in 1-5 years or will it require an expensive overhaul?

The bottom line is that you should consider an investment in a modular product that can grow with your company over time, and not one that becomes obsolete the minute you expand.

Corporate Purchase Order Automation - Best Practices

Corporate Purchase Order Automation – Best Practices

Corporate Purchase Order Automation – Best Practices 700 500 Xcelpros Team


Chemical company purchasing focuses on boosting profits through a simple chain of obtaining required materials and services. In today’s rapidly moving digital world, purchasing requires a comprehensive strategy that can adapt rapidly changing conditions.

Is your company still using manual archaic systems to manage purchase orders? An antiquated purchasing process can easily lead to mismanagement and simple user errors, reducing your profits.

Times, however, have changed. Using a technology-driven approach that automates the entire supply chain and includes real-time supplier collaboration saves time and money. These systems increase efficiency while boosting profitability.

Figure: 1 Integrating the Purchase Order Process

Integrating the Purchase Order Process

Companies using software tools lacking a common design and style, especially those made 3rd-parties, are looking to cause data errors. Having a common suite of tools for daily use that can share information goes a long way to reduce errors and improve efficiency.

For example, connected business solutions from Microsoft help streamline internal processes. They automate repetitive tasks so your people don’t have to.


of companies agreed that there are loopholes in their PO practices.


of organizations reported having plans for addressing purchase order management inefficiencies in the near future.

Source : A survey of Finance Personnel, 2017

Figure: 2 The Purchase Order Lifecycle

The Purchase Order Lifecycle

Procurement and the Purchase Order Life Cycle

Buying raw materials and finished components starts with negotiating terms and then acquiring goods or services from approved vendors. It also requires establishing payment terms and evaluating suppliers based on past transactions. Other steps are sending purchase orders, receiving purchased goods and processing invoices and payments.

The purchase order lifecycle has six core steps:

1.Vendor Selection: After receiving supplier quotations, buyers shortlist the ones meeting company requirements and budgets. While that happens, the procurement team verifies the supplier’s integrity, taking stakeholder input to reach a unified decision on which suppliers to use.

2.Negotiation and PO Dispatch: Buyers and suppliers negotiate the delivery timeline, set on time in full (OTIF) key performance indicators (KPI), establish a payment process, agree on quality standards, dispute resolutions, confidentiality, risks, change in requirements and other details. Suppliers and buyers sign purchase contracts, locking in the price and other terms.

3.Purchase Order Creation: Once the procurement team receives approval on purchase requests, it creates a purchase order containing product details, pricing, delivery terms, freight methods and other details. When dealing with multiple line items, some buyers’ systems may create purchase orders for each item.

4.Receiving goods and quality checks: Vendors send shipments according to the buyer’s instructions and terms in the PO. After receiving the supplier’s shipment, the buyer conducts a standard quality check, confirming it matches the PO’s requirements and packing slip. The receiving clerk verifies the item count is correct and conducts a surface level check for damages, noting any errors or damage. When the shipper and receiver numbers and quality levels do not match, relevant parties are provided details on what was found. After disputes are resolved, the receiver records the receiving information into the inventory management system.

5.Processing invoice payments: The supplier invoices the company, which routes it to the Accounts Payable(AP) Department. An AP clerk inputs the invoice, verifies details and charges against the PO and posts the PO or invoice. The transaction creates an open invoice against the supplier in the system. The open invoice now appears on an aging report.

6.Processing the payment for the purchase: As the invoice due date approaches, an AP clerk prepares a payment proposal that follows a standardized company workflow. Approval typically depends on the invoice amounts with higher figures requiring higher-level executive approvals. After getting approval, another AP clerk prints checks or sends electronic payments before posting the payment and clearing the open invoice.

What do these steps tell modern businesses? Each overly-simplified step shows that being detail oriented is a primary requirement. Anything that reduces human error and improves the overall accuracy of the purchase-to-pay lifecycle must be considered.

Small companies may skip the PO process, relying on strong relationships with only a few vendors. When verbal deals break down into a battle of “he said, she said,” the result is often an unnecessary legal battle. Having an automated written process keeps everything documented, safeguarding your company from potential losses.

Underlying Reasons for a Purchase Order Failure

There are plenty of reasons, including human error or process failure, why a purchase order system can fail. Some of the reasons are:

  • Authorization limitations

    In most cases, only an authorized person should sign a purchase order, obligating the company to pay it. Situations may arise when the authorized agent doesn’t receive the PO or forgets to complete the sign-off. In such cases, Accounts Payable may refuse to accept the invoice.

  • Using wrong codes and supplier names

    The person assigned to complete the purchase may lack crucial details such as the full supplier name and business code. Incomplete or inaccurate forms wastes time and money.

  • Not completing all essential columns and boxes

    When handling POs manually, there are no system reminders to fill in every mandatory data field. Missing data in one field can have a domino effect on other areas.

  • Failing to use the preferred suppliers’ list

    In an automated PO management system, a preferred supplier list is given preference. It forces the buyer to stick to what is listed. Choosing suppliers outside the approved list requires providing an explanation to management, even when the altered decision benefits the company. Automated systems often have a trigger, requiring management approval before the PO progresses. Manual processes are challenged to monitor approved supplier checks.

  • Delivery Delays

    One of the apparent problems faced in manual Purchase order processing is enhanced visibility in delays of goods/ services delivery. Typically, a high volume of orders or errors results in the supply system slowing down or losing track of vendor shipments.

Automation as a Solution

While digitizing purchase orders requires a significant initial investment, it’s a long-term solution resulting in a tangible return on investment. The sooner a company upgrades to automated electronic invoicing solutions through enterprise resource planning (ERP) software, the faster it sees the benefits. Producing electronic POs in an older ERP removes paper but doesn’t end manual processes. Buyers still need to extract the PO from the ERP and email it to the supplier.

Having an automated PO system that easily fits your business requirements makes purchasing more efficient. It should have features such as automatic purchase order creation and approval routing. It should notify suppliers via email or through an alert triggered in an online supplier portal.

When your advanced ERP—like Microsoft Dynamics 365—has an online supplier portal, your vendors can receive purchase orders, make modifications, send order acknowledgments and generate accurate invoices.

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5 Steps to Creating an Automated PO System

There are five steps required to create an automated PO system:

  1. 1.Integrating the purchase order system with ERP
  2. 2.Creating an electronic PO requisition and approval process
  3. 3.Transmitting electronic purchase orders to suppliers
  4. 4.Providing suppliers with easy online access to view your POs, acknowledge orders, and send advance shipment notices (ASNs) instantly
  5. 5.Streamlining supplier transactions to help manage your purchase-to-pay process

Key Benefits of Automating Purchase Order Process

Chemical and pharmaceutical companies plus their suppliers gain several benefits from using an automated purchase order system. These benefits include:

Providing suppliers with 360-degree views of orders, invoices and payments

PO requisitions automatically route for approval

Increasing invoice accuracy and reducing duplicate data entry

Saving time and resources while making users more compliant

Minimizing inconsistencies and reducing opportunities for error

Streamlining the entire PO process, promoting faster speed and better efficiency

Enhancing productivity by managing multiple orders simultaneously

Reducing long-term expenses

Streamlining inventory management and improving decision-making capabilities

Figure 3 Upgrading to an Automated PO System

Upgrading to an Automated PO System

Improving Supplier Interactions with Dynamics 365

Dynamics 365 works with Microsoft Office 365 to simplify and automate daily tasks, letting your procurement team focus on managing purchases.

For example: Your buyer receives an email from a supplier requesting additional details on a quote. The system recognizes the sender, enabling the buyer to easily pull up prospect cards within Outlook. From this dashboard, the buyer reviews the account that includes the supplier’s existing quotes, ongoing orders and purchase history. While the buyer manages the quote, supplier and product information auto-populate, helping him get it done faster.

Another example is while your buyer is sending a purchase requisition, a message is sent to their inbox from a potential supplier they recently interacted with at an event. The system recognizes the supplier’s email address is not in the supplier database, prompting the buyer to add it. Without leaving Outlook, the buyer creates a profile in Dynamics 365 Finance.

Both of these examples show how automation reduces time spent on administrative tasks, allowing your purchasing team to quickly respond to quotes and ultimately improving overall customer service.

As a business owner, imagine receiving an email from a high-priority customer needing an order delivered fairly quickly. Fulfilling that order depends on receiving materials from your suppliers. Without leaving your inbox, you can check inventory and discover that you don’t have enough stock on hand to fulfill the order. Your sales team can quickly send a PO directly to the Buyer with “approval to proceed.” In the same interface you create and send a purchase order to the vendor and a quote to your customer.

With Dynamics 365 and Office 365 working together, you can take quick action right from your email – allowing you to spend more time managing your business and connecting with customers.

Key Takeaways

Efficient purchase order automation increases the point of revenue, makes the operational process easier and reduces error rates.

The mature and robust functionality of an automated purchase order system ensures better functioning of the Purchasing department, with a cloud-based procurement solution offering greater transparency on purchase order management with even greater ease of access.

CONTACT US and get started with your Purchase Order automation process using Power package with Microsoft Dynamics 365 Supply Chain!

Maintaining an Integrated Supply Chain Key Solutions

Maintaining an Integrated Supply Chain: Key Solutions

Maintaining an Integrated Supply Chain: Key Solutions 700 500 Xcelpros Team

At a Glance

  • Many organizations that fail to recognize supply chain as a strategic business function, tend to not move to a digital supply chain and lose out on the benefits that come with the transformation.
  • Traditionally, manufacturing companies have treated supply chain as a transactional function, a bargaining chip to reduce price and secure on-time delivery of raw materials. The modern supply chain is viewed as a strategic asset to the organization, integrated deeply with other business functions, aimed to increase customer satisfaction.
  • Companies unable to track hidden costs across the supply chain lose track of actual costs, damaging their bottom line. Proper supply chain monitoring can save anywhere from 20-30% of distribution costs.

The Supply Chain Challenge

Supply chain management is one of the most critical elements of success for any business in today’s global market. However, its application is undermined by many companies as business leaders face challenges to control the cost of a supply chain without compromising on its efficiency. Since COVID-19 we have witnessed drastic changes in methods and methodologies for streamlining supply chain operations. It, however, doesn’t take away some key fundamentals required for healthy functioning of a company’s supply chain and inventory management.

According to the Logistics Bureau, for companies running global operations, their supply chain cost could rise as high as 90% of their total expenditure.

The Supply Chain Slowdown

The problem lies in poor strategic management. Supply chain managers are focusing on cost minimization, most of them without having detailed field knowledge of how the system works, and the result is it is impacting other areas of the process such as inventory optimization, ‘on-time delivery in full (OTDIF)’ and customer satisfaction. Trying to improve one KPI is resulting in a cost spike in other areas of operations, which can have a long-term impact on revenue.

FIGURE 1 Where Business Leaders are Falling Short

Where Business Leaders are Falling Short

A robust supply chain needs strategic alignment and planning in line with the overall business functioning. For example, in order to control cost, you need to first understand the key drivers of cost in the supply chain and most importantly how to measure the supply chain cost. While the strategy is important, establishing an integrated supply chain requires a synchronized approach to planning, execution, and application of technologies in order to create an end-to-end unified system across the entire organization.

FIGURE 2 Key Elements of an Integrated Supply Chain

Key Elements of an Integrated Supply Chain

In this article, we will touch upon some interesting facts that make an appealing case as to why the Supply Chain strategy needs to be digitally enhanced and properly integrated with other parts of the business.

Switching from Traditional to Next-Gen Digital Supply Chain

The rapidly evolving business landscape is disrupting the way companies function. Moreover, the advent of the latest technologies and growing competitive markets are driving companies to push their limits and redefine supply chain operations.

Is your business ready to embrace a digital supply chain as a key distinguishing factor for its competitive advantage?

Most SMBs are holding back the transformation due to the fear of possible risks that could surface. Per our industry experience, it’s due to the age-old perspective in which company leadership is analyzing their supply chain. In most of the cases, we found that they are way behind the entire purview and don’t realize the true potential of a well-integrated, technologically advanced supply chain.

Traditionally, business leaders focused on pricing and product quality, but priorities today have completely shifted. Major Objectives and Key results of organizations are geared towards optimized supply chain and operations to boost businesses forward. With Industry 4.0, advanced analytics, and robotic process automation rising, companies are realizing the need for an integrated supply chain. This has become even more true as the Covid-19 crisis continues. Demand planning and fulfillment, supplier-customer relationship, customer retention, on-time delivery are some of the major expenses of a company. An efficient supply chain not only helps with cost reduction in these segments but also ensures growth, profitability, and customer satisfaction.

Top Reasons to Upgrade Your Operations with a Next-Gen Digital Supply Chain:

Shifting from a plant-level production planning to a demand-driven focus with customer-centric mindset but not compromising with the product quality

Getting rid of outdated processes and technology to match the transforming global business landscape

Reducing cost to formulate a more efficient value chain to remain cost-competitive in the market

Ability to outsource parts of your supply chain process in order to reap economic benefits and superior supply chain network design

Achieving more efficient product lifecycle management

Collaboration with stakeholders to integrate business processes for increasing visibility throughout the value chain

The Impact of Supply Chains

An integrated supply chain influences the overall functioning and improves profitability of the business. Going digital and increasing interoperability across these functions sets a business up to accelerated growth. Let us discuss a couple of key areas that are impacted by a well designed supply chain.

FIGURE 3 Upgrading the supply chain will improve your bottom line

Upgrading the supply chain will improve your bottom line

01. Supply Chain and its Impact on Customer-Centricity

When business leaders discuss improving their supply chain, their main focus is usually related to accelerating growth by cutting down costs, achieving better lead time, and ensuring on-time delivery; as all these factors contribute towards business development. What slips from their mind is what customers really care about. It all starts and ends with customer satisfaction. Delivering the right product at the right time improves your organization’s brand value and credibility to customers.

What the customer cares about is receiving quality products on the promised delivery date without having to spend too much time or effort. This can be seen in Amazon’s announcement of one-day delivery. Late and inaccurate deliveries bear a significant impact on customer loyalty.


of industry professionals predict that their supply chain is going to be a key driver of improved customer satisfaction by the end of the year.

Source: Accenture

Your procurement division must understand the importance of cost-saving, but they need to be in line with the expectations of the customers and procure quality raw material for manufacturing the items. If expectations on raw material quality is not set, you could save money purchasing raw materials upfront, but end up spending more in the long run.

Let’s take a look at Kimberly-Clark’s journey to understand this better:

Kimberly-Clark is a manufacturing-focused organization that up to a few years ago did not have a supply chain division. Sandra MacQuillan, their first Supply Chain Officer, built a solid team to ensure the supply chain was focused on customer satisfaction. In the process, she integrated various functions such as procurement, quality (know more on quality management by clicking here), logistics, manufacturing, safety, etc. that are interconnected and delivered for one common goal – that is customer satisfaction.

Kimberly-Clark was able to achieve 25-30% cost savings by interconnecting various aspects of the Supply Chain, focused on better customer service, resulting in improved efficiency.

If you connect with the issues faced by Kimberly-Clark, or your supply chain is functioning in silos, it could be the best time to make a change. You can take this opportunity to update and integrate your supply chain with overall business functions and work towards a common goal like customer Satisfaction. A strongly integrated application will have the ability to incorporate holistic business functions including analytics, collaboration with notification, secure information sharing, control-based decision making using Artificial Intelligence, and more.

FIGURE 4 KPIs that are critical for supply chain monitoring

KPIs that are critical for supply chain monitoring

02. The Role of supply chain in sustaining business long term

According to the Logistics Bureau, nearly 50% of companies shut down within the first five years of operation. One critical factor contributing to these failures is an inefficient and poorly conceived supply chain. Supply chains in most organizations have evolved as a practice, rather than a well-designed process.


of companies with robust and high-performing supply chains are able to outperform their average peers in terms of higher revenue growth. This fact signifies the positive implication of a connected supply chain for a business.

Source: Deloitte

5 Steps to Integrate your Supply Chain

Break down organizational silos

For an effective, integrated approach to Supply Chain Management (SCM) the organization must operate end-to-end as a unified entity.


Define organizational objectives

Move beyond basic business and functional unit design and metrics. Look at the organization holistically and define the objectives as a complete entity.


Align business processes

Take a cross-functional approach to business process design. Start at a high level and map out the supply-chain flow with the goal of creating an end-to-end mapping of the business process.


Design the IT architecture to support an integrated approach

Leverage a cross-functional approach to IT systems design. As much as possible, standardize the organization in terms of the applications that are used. Seek to eliminate as many disparate applications as possible in favor of a common set of applications across the business.


Reshape leadership and culture

For most organizations, the major roadblock in delivering an integrated approach to supply-chain management is culture change. Change of this magnitude must be driven by solid leadership. There should be strong collaboration to drive the effort to deliver an integrated supply-chain organization.


Final Thoughts

There is no way the importance of an integrated Supply Chain should be overstated or undermined. If you or your organization have not prioritized your supply chain efforts, it’s never too late to take the first step.

An intelligent ERP software comes with a holistic supply chain module along with advanced analytics to support the following functionality.

  • A manufacturing execution system
  • Financial and cost accounting
  • Inventory and warehouse management
  • Purchasing and planning of materials
  • Product information management
  • Sales and marketing of the products
  • Transportation and logistics management

In order to push a company forward especially post-COVID-19, a sound digital supply chain strategy would be needed.

Do not let operational inefficiencies limit your business, long-term goals

Act Now