Supply chain control towers are often misunderstood and the term control tower itself can mean different things from different vendors. We have tried to categorize the control towers you’ll see from analytics to operational control towers in previous posts and today we want to focus on the innovation that is happening with control towers focused on the end-to-end supply chain.
When you are evaluating and purchasing a control tower to extend your current systems and give your planners a tool to be more productive and focus on value-add activities, make sure you look for the following:
1. Customer Order Focused
As we look to provide better experiences for customers, it’s not just about improving customer service but improving the source of the issue in many cases which is order fulfillment.
A modern control tower is focused on the end-to-end customer order and ensuring fulfillment across all the supply chain steps needed to deliver it on-time and in-full. While you may run across control towers for other supply chain functions such as just transportation or analytics focused, most organizations are looking for a control tower solution that can act as the single source of truth for the end-to-end customer order for your planning team across the various supply chain functions.
2. Multi-Party Supply Chain Support
Our supply chains are increasingly becoming multi-party, with 74% of companies feeling that the number of entities in their supply chains has increased in the past three years, according to PwC. In that same research, 95% of those companies felt like discrepancies between these entities increased over this same period.
What does this tell us? It tells us that while organizations are being forced to expand their supply chain execution through suppliers and partners, our control over these third parties remains suspect at best. It’s added complexity to our supply chains and in turn, remains an area of struggle when trying to provide a consistently high experience for customers through OTIF orders.
A modern control tower should help better collaborate with suppliers and partners across your multi-party supply chain ensuring that you have the visibility, control and orchestration necessary to use any party in your supply chain in the most cost effective way to deliver more OTIF orders.
3. End-To-End Visibility
Supply chain visibility is another buzzword in our space and every control tower will provide visibility. When we use the term end-to-end visibility, however, we are talking about going beyond simple track and trace and having visibility into just transportation steps. It’s about getting more granular milestones and visibility into all of the key processes in the supply chain that affect a customer order being delivered OTIF. That could be steps in manufacturing, inbound with suppliers, pick & pack, transportation, customers and more.
A modern control tower will provide the configurability needed to set up the milestone steps in your supply chain that are crucial to your business and your end customers experience.
4. Real-Time Exceptions Management
Having visibility is step one but being able to take quick and deliberate action on it is the critical final step. If your control tower is end-to-end as stated above, you’ll now have more lead-time to react to exceptions that occur with your ever-increasing order volume. By identifying potential problems with orders in real-time earlier in the process, we are able to actually do something about the issue vs. apologizing to the customer after the fact.
A modern control tower will not only provide you the visibility into exceptions management earlier in the process but it will give you a single view to re-plan the customer order to ensure less problem orders remain that way.
5. Order Orchestration and Optimization
With more options provided to customers than ever before, our one-size fits all supply chain is increasingly being misused to serve multiple differentiated supply chains for our various customer segments. This is forcing organizations to think differently on how they use their supply chain assets and partners and in turn, focus on flexibility over six-sigma process.
Control towers are not just about ensuring mistakes are taken care of in your current supply chain but it’s about how to continuously optimize your supply chain strategy. And this is done through supply chain orchestration.
By leveraging algorithmic order flows in your control tower, you are able to better reign in the risk and compliance of your order flows while being able to more consistently execute and deliver on customer service levels at the lowest cost. The modern control tower will help with this orchestration and consistently help you improve and optimize your order flows to drive supply chain and business success.
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When evaluating control towers it’s important to balance both your organization’s short-term and long-term needs and how this technology can help you build competitive advantage in how you cost effectively serve your customers.
For more questions to ask Control Tower solution providers, Download our Control Tower Buying Checklist!