Category Archives: Supply Chain

Don’t Drive Without A Dashboard


Supply chain processes throw off a lot of data. If you’re a successful supplier who fulfills a significant number of orders then you understand that the detail of the transactions generated by orders, shipments, receipts, and all the miscellaneous transactions associated with every order is just too much to be able to read through, much less make sense of. But every part of your operation from your suppliers to your customers demand some kind of accountability, and it’s your responsibility to know of any problems or even potential problems long before everyone else. But with all the data flowing through your systems, is it even possible to separate the standard data from the trouble signals?

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Transportation Control Towers


ImageWe have been talking a lot about Supply Chain Management Control Towers. Yes, transportation (usually under logistics) is included in the control tower. In many companies, transportation is outsourced to a 3PL, 4PL or 5PL provider. This provider is an expert at hooking your company up to any required transportation resources. Your provider already has some excellent tools available. A popular concept since the 1990’s has been the “Load Control Center” (LCC). We are looking at outsourcing, but yes, excellent software is available if you do it yourself.
Transportation has always been an opportunity to centralize and get some benefits. 3M started the concept of Load Control Centers(LCC) and lots of others followed suit. The LCC is simply centralization of transportation planning and execution. Benefits include:

  • better pricing from centralized transportation sourcing
  • development of standardized operating procedures
  • fewer planners than in several…

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Explanation of EDI and How It Came To Be


Your first thought might be: “I know already or I wouldn’t be reading this publication.” Yes, we will give you the “schoolbook” definition. We will even tell you a brief history of EDI (Electronic Data Interchange), but our real purpose is to give you the modern era definition of EDI; and back it up with an expert opinion.Developed in the United States in the mid-1960s, the idea of what became known as EDI today originated with a group of railroad companies.

The standardization of documents proved to be necessary. They formed an organization known as the Transportation Data Coordinating Committee (TDCC) . Renamed the Electronic Data Interchange Association (EDIA) , they received a charter from the American National Standards Institute (ANSI) and became the ANSI X12 Committee.

Other businesses began to use proprietary systems to exchange invoices and purchase orders. They recognized the economic advantages of fast, efficient and…

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Should EDI Be Outsourced?

Today’s CIO has more on their mind than merely keeping their company’s data safe from hackers, which isn’t easy in light of the lightning speed technology is advancing. Matters such as BYOD, shadow IT, cloud migration and virtualization also tug for attention, but even that’s not everything a CIO has to master.
Technology has proven both a blessing and the bane of the CIO’s existence. The electronic transfer of vital information, such as invoices and supply chain data, is immeasurably impacted by EDI, the electronic data interchange. If the systems running EDI aren’t functioning with exact precision, a company can lose market share and even be penalized for missing contractual obligations for the late or missed delivery of goods and services.

In fact, there are multiple points of potential failure along the supply chain that create risks and uncertainty. In Deloitte’s report ‘The Ripple Effect‘, supply chain hazards of import to the CIO and anyone else charged with overseeing a company’s supply chain are highlighted. According to the report, today’s risks to the supply chain are becoming increasingly costly. As a result, 71 percent of executives surveyed for the report said supply chain considerations play an important role in their company’s decision-making processes. The complexities of managing supply chain technology has become such a risk that many executives believe it should be outsourced, rather than tackled within the organization.

The move toward managed services in general continues to gain popularity as companies look to leverage the expertise of service suppliers dedicated to specific functions and technologies. This is particularly true when the technology is critical to the business despite not being their core competency, which is often the case with EDI. Outsourcing can remove the uncertainty of internal personnel issues, hardware and software support, and even connectivity issues from internal budgets to predictable contractual agreements.

No Risk EDI

EDI is a secure environment. At least that’s the premise that most supply chain professionals work by. And the truth is that for the most part the EDI transaction chain is very secure. But that doesn’t mean there aren’t areas to monitor and steps to take to make certain your assumptions about security are correct… and that your transactions are not going to be compromised.
Here’s an overview of the main steps to take to assure your transactions and in fact, your business as a whole is secure and doesn’t have gaping holes that competitors or just bad guys in general can turn against you.

In many ways assessing the security of your EDI environment is the same as managing any other portion of your enterprise security. The main point is to know how your data is exposed and where the most vulnerable points are. Once those issues are known it’s a matter of working through standard security processes.

First step: Identify what is to be protected

Second step: Determine where your data is sensitive
Third step: Determine what security needs to be in place

Fourth step: Decide what protections to enable

Trends (Not Predictions)


Are you tired of predictions and resolutions yet? Well I am. The gym is packed with people resolved to be healthier, lose weight, or whatever they think they should be doing there. Fortune tellers have offered their individual takes on what will happen this year (Yes I did too). And some brave ones have even gone back and evaluated how well their predictions did last year. How about some history for a change?

I don’t mean ancient history… just some things that actually happened over the last year or so. I also think these may be indicators of what is to come, but more because they can be seen as trends. So these are not things that might happen in the future. They are things that are working in the supply chain right now. Let me know if you agree and what other trends you are seeing.

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