Supply chains and seamless IT

Many businesses rely on their suppliers to ensure a seamless operation for their supply of either goods or services.

But what if something goes wrong as it spectacularly did for KFC recently when it changed the suppliers of the chicken it relies on?

An in-depth investigation by Wired recently examined the various issues that needed to be kept running smoothly for a business such as KFC to receive a steady supply.

Obviously, for a food supplier dependent on fresh food the issues would be different from those where supplies are non-perishable.

However, in order to be efficient and not have too much capital tied up in stock or raw materials many businesses operate on a “just in time” principle, which can make them vulnerable if there is some kind of delay.

Some years ago, this was an issue for supermarkets during the petrol strike by fuel delivery drivers.

So, the first question for a business is, is it wise to depend on just one supplier, or just one location for deliveries?

Behind this lie others issues because so many businesses are dependent on IT. Automating orders, delivery schedules and invoicing may save on time and the administration costs, but, again, can cause hiccups, especially when there is a system crash.

Equally, the order and delivery system needs to be designed to be appropriate for the business and the supplier.

Before a business goes live and relies on it, it needs to be checked scrupulously to identify any potential problems.  The business, and the supplier, or suppliers, will need the system to be integrated for their purposes and to work smoothly.

It is also worth asking whether the system would be easy to adapt and install if a business takes on new suppliers.