While automated data collection software and other solutions are vital for ensuring that inventory and supplies are properly being tracked and managed, companies need to understand how to properly use the technologies, with a plan in place regarding what the solutions should accomplish.
Mike Giguere and Brad Householder, principals in PricewaterhouseCooper’s Advisory Practice, wrote in a November 13 article in the Supply Chain Management Review that when issues arise at any point within the supply chain, more often than not the information technology department is assigned the blame. However, issues are rarely the fault of the software if the company has not taken the proper precautions to ensure that any potential warning signs are spotted by staff members.
"Given the sizable investments companies have made in IT to harvest supply chain data, the question of why visibility isn’t better is a perplexing one," Giguere and Householder wrote. "The 'complete' view of inbound supply and outbound fulfillment sustained by seamless upstream and downstream connectivity that managers had been led to expect is proving to be a frustrating, ongoing work in progress. There’s no shortage of technology solutions that purport to enable visibility. Yet getting timely, accurate information with which to run global operations - even after costly IT solutions are in place - remains a daunting challenge."
How to make data collection software more effective
Supply chain management professional Bob Engel wrote in a 2011 issue of Supply Chain Quarterly that no company can expect its chosen solutions to work properly if the software used is not meant to be congruent with business goals. An organizations first should identify its needs, and then the ideal technology can be chosen. For example, an enterprise that needs to more effectively manage inventory in warehouses might come to the conclusion that it needs better barcode software.
In addition, companies should take extra care in bringing on workers who adequately understand how to use the data collection tools chosen. For one, Engel wrote, all employees working within the organization should understand how to use the intelligence gathering equipment required of them.
However, a key consideration that businesses often fail to realize is that working knowledge of one component does not necessarily mean the person will have an intimate understanding of other concerns. For example, while a warehouse manager may be adept at using and considering data gathering methods for shipments, that same individual may need further training or guidance with regard to analyzing data as it relates to the company on a wider scale.