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The Benefits of Shifting from Manual to Digital Supply Chain Planning

by | Nov 2, 2023

For years, we have been called to leverage some degree of digital transformation — most often to accelerate visibility, reduce working capital or streamline process changes.  Among business functions that are well-poised to benefit from the digital shift,  supply chain management ranks among the top because of its data intensive nature. As leaders navigate the ongoing complexities of today’s supply chain, many have embraced or have plans to embrace the transformation.

Shifting to a digital supply chain

Shifting from manual supply chain management to digital supply chain planning means ditching outdated, traditional systems like relying on email and spreadsheet-based processes. Research shows that these outdated methods can put the whole supply chain ecosystem in a risky position, leaving you vulnerable to financial and market share risks.

Harnessing a digital supply chain can not only help protect you from those threats, but doing so has benefits that can propel you into a new era of unprecedented growth, opportunity, and insights — driven by speed, impact, and scale. Let’s look at some of the top advantages.

Gain real-time insights and accelerate decision-making

According to a 2021 Gartner survey, 60% of Chief Supply Chain Officers are expected to make faster, more accurate and consistent decisions in real time. To better contend with the volatility of the global market, today’s technology leaders are empowering companies to do just that.

The ability to leverage rich channel data including point of sale (POS) data, channel inventory data and other signals from channels to generate short term inventory and replenishment strategies is going to be a “must have” capability for enterprises of all sizes. AI/ML algorithms that leverage both channel data and other external signals to provide insights and recommendations will play a key role in leading supply chains of the future. Planning at various levels in the product, customer and location hierarchies combined with intelligent postponement strategies are going to separate winners from “also rans”.

Companies that rely on manual spreadsheet-driven processes are limited to their own sales or shipment history. They can only use past performance data to predict future needs and don’t take current market and product portfolio information into consideration. Data latency which is often referred to as ‘stale data’ minimizes the opportunity to mitigate risks or harness new opportunities. Unlike manual management, digital planning tools enable you to optimize your response to market signals and make decisions with greater precision.

Unlock profitable growth opportunities

Shifting to a more digital supply chain can open up a world of opportunities. Where manual processes — like spreadsheet-based planning — hinder forward thinking, accuracy, and agility, AI and machine learning solutions leverage predictive analytics to align future performance and uncover market trends that can evolve into new business insights that lead to greater sales and revenue.

AI solutions also have the power to foster better cross-organization alignment and productivity with built-in collaboration features and automated workflows. With access to real-time market signals, teams can break down silos and collaborate more effectively, strengthening both your supply chain and business as a whole.

Reduce supply chain risk and scale your business

The biggest issue with spreadsheet-based planning and other manual methods is that they’re prone to errors that can mislead supply chain leaders and consequently create plans doomed to fail. On the other end of the spectrum, AI-driven supply chain planning solutions accelerate planning, incorporate external data and drive fresh market insight to delight customers and boost both top line revenue and bottom line profitability.

Make the smart shift from manual processes to digital supply chain solutions

The shift from manual processes to a digital solution in supply chain management represents not just a necessary evolution but a transformative leap into the future of logistics. The time for this transition is now, and those who seize this opportunity will be at the forefront of a new era in supply chain management, poised for sustainable growth and continued success in an increasingly competitive marketplace.

A company of experts on a mission to make those benefits accessible, Firstshift is forging the path for businesses to move ahead successfully with the digital transformation of their supply chain. By offering AI-powered, cloud-based demand planning software and a supply chain planning platform, businesses can bring greater speed, impact, and scale to their supply chain than ever before.

Ditch the spreadsheets and make the smart shift — schedule a demo to learn more.