De-risking the supply chain: how to leverage your data

When supply chain disruption occurs, businesses need the visibility and agility to make data-driven decisions that deliver products and profits, while exploiting the cloud to expedite data sharing and access. Enter the intelligent ERP
Night Photograph Of Complicated Intersecting Highway.

The performance of global supply chains is reliant on a combination of interdependence and interconnectedness to deliver goods and services to consumers. This is aided by predictable buying habits, access to goods and consistent shipping patterns.

But in recent years, covid-19, 2021’s Suez Canal blockage, and the ongoing Russia-Ukraine war have exposed the vulnerability of supply chains and forced businesses to re-evaluate how they de-risk their business networks to ensure customers get the goods they need on time while maintaining quality and profits.

Some have chosen to reroute their entire networks. Globalised supply chains have enabled companies to source the cheapest possible quality components, materials and products, but lengthy networks spanning multiple countries increase the risk of disruption. Near-shoring and reshoring of production are becoming increasingly common as companies seek more control over risk factors by moving production closer to the end consumer.

Visualisation solutions keep supply chains moving by bringing data to life, giving manufacturers access to insights in context

It’s an example of intelligent decision-making that can be enhanced further by hard numbers. “Data sharing across extended supply chains, facilitated by cloud ERP software, is providing businesses with greater accuracy in planning and execution, from production to fulfilment, that can be accessed anywhere at any time,” says Andy Coussins, head of international at Epicor. Predictive insights into expected fluctuations in supply and demand allow manufacturers, distributors and retailers to adapt at speed and avoid stock-outs or excess stock.

“These visualisation solutions keep supply chains moving by bringing data to life, giving manufacturers access to insights in context, specifically for the function they’re tasked with,” Coussins adds. “Epicor’s dashboards can be configured to an individual’s role, so they have the latest relevant information available when and where needed.” This expedites decision-making and ultimately ensures a right-sized supply chain, so the right amount of stock is in the right place at the right time.

Supply chain in the cloud

Moving supply chain data and business-critical applications from on-premises solutions to the cloud can also increase resilience against many threats, including cyberattacks, by tapping into Epicor’s partnership with Microsoft to leverage the Azure platform.

Businesses have no control over the timing or duration of major events, such as natural disasters or wars, but many are taking action to reduce shutdown periods when they occur. One strategy is to diversify their supplier community. If disruptions impact one geographic region, organisations must quickly shift sourcing to alternative suppliers.

To do so, these key supplier relationships and the ability to send electronic orders must be in place ahead of unforeseen disruption. Epicor’s supplier portal ensures a broad community of suppliers is available to fulfil demand, regardless of whether any part of the supply chain is disrupted.

But partnering with the right suppliers can be complex and due diligence is essential. Dashboards on historical supplier performance, such as order accuracy, fulfilment rates, on-time shipping, and payment history, are helping organisations to align with the most reliable trading partners across their supply chain.

Trading risk for reliability

Reliability also comes in the form of the production and maintenance of reliable products. “Fines and production shutdowns can occur if minimum requirements or regulatory mandates are unmet. The cost of quality issues is then passed down the supply chain, often ultimately to the consumer,” says Coussins. To support quality assurance, Epicor has developed Advanced MES solutions and digital work instruction solutions (Epicor Connected Process Control) - driving productivity, quality, as well as worker safety, that are embedded in the production process and deliver greater oversight into quality events - when there are issues with products, components, or ingredient quality in the manufacturing lifecycle.

Businesses are also starting to measure and monitor other risk factors posed by trading partners in their supply chains, including financial performance, regulatory compliance, and adherence to ESG and sustainability policies. Any of these could impact a supplier’s cost structure and overall viability.

Sustainability is increasingly important as businesses are tasked with meeting ambitious net zero goals, and it’s also at the heart of cloud-based ERP solutions. Modern, cloud-based ERP solutions drive sustainability by helping businesses to minimise waste all along their supply chains. They also optimise transportation to minimise carbon footprint and drive maximum equipment uptime and performance to reduce energy consumption.

A sustainable, lean and data-driven supply chain will give businesses the intelligence and agility to pivot to keep their supply chains moving when the next disruption occurs.

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