A company’s most valuable assets are the business processes that guide planning and execution of innovation, operations and relationships with customers and partners. You are your “process” was the mantra of one of my old bosses at SAP. Of course coming from SAP, that may seem a bit self-serving. Nevertheless, in global logistics, process is king and timeliness is queen. Logistics clockwork is completely dependent on processes, making the mantra spot on. Now, not all processes are equal. Processes exist in a spectrum from ad-hoc to fully automated. While not ad-hoc, many logistics processes are still enabled by spreadsheets, emails and phone calls and therefore manual in nature, requiring many “touches”. In few cases is the process documented and governed by policy but rarely is it automated. The maturity and the ubiquity of Cloud technology is changing this situation rapidly; never before has it been possible to unify all the people, information and processes involved in global supply chain networks. An evolution is under way to fully automate global processes, connecting all supply chain participants and systems in real-time. If you are a service company, like a freight forwarder, this is a key opportunity to focus on process innovation to gain competitive advantage. Consider, for example, providing your consignee with complete visibility into in-transit inventory and PO management.
Processes in supply chain management can be broken down into interconnected flows of Information, Cargo and Cash. Trade Tech specializes in managing, optimizing and automating these flows with Cloud technology (please see our neat visual above). Shipping documents and compliance filings are artifacts of these flows; like a stakeholder specific snapshot of the dynamic flow at a given point in time. Taking a flow centric, versus a document centric approach is important. The flow carriers the necessary information to complete a given document. There is absolutely no need to re-enter the data for the next hand-off in the chain. This seems to be an industry obsession and the source of most inaccuracies and delays. However, only by standardizing core reference data (master data), which is non-trivial, can true automation take place. A Cloud based system that is always on and always connected can automatically synchronize such data. Think sailing schedule, GL account codes, SKUs, carriers codes, port codes, cargo types, hazard codes or stakeholder profiles etc. The workflow rules can now take action based on standardized qualitative data and automation can take place. With repeatable outcomes you are now in pole position for taking your business global. The possibilities of this evolution are quite exciting: