Get smarter – from MHD magazine

Get smarter – from MHD magazine

Patrick Elliott

Managing a supply chain has never been simple and in an era of evolving trade barriers and global economic uncertainty, it’s more complex than ever. While new technologies such as blockchain and automation continue to up-end old ways, Australian organisations that rely on legacy systems to coordinate their internal and external supplier networks will struggle to keep pace.

Here are four things to keep in mind as you review your supply chain for the 2019 financial year and beyond.

  1. Agile planning

Supply chains are rarely static. These days they’re under constant pressure to evolve and adapt, for a multitude of reasons. They include regulatory changes, such as new emissions standards, digital disruption and the emergence of competitors offering better value products and services.

“Optimising the supply chain is important for organisations of all stripes, but in one sector it’s critical.”

Effective, connected planning and the ability to adapt quickly can mean the difference between thriving and struggling. ‘Siloed’ sections of the supply chain are more likely to lead to the latter outcome. Unfortunately, that’s just the model legacy solutions tend to promulgate. By contrast, cloud-based software allows a bird’s eye view of operations, from supplier status to customer demand. Australian organisations which embrace it will be better placed to anticipate bottlenecks and breakdowns in their supply chain before they become problems, rather than scrambling to remediate after the fact.

  1. Making planning an enterprise-wide affair

Joined-up planning can’t occur across the enterprise if business units – IT, sales, finance, operations – continue to do their own thing. Collaboration is crucial to success in an era where supply chain networks are no longer linear but, rather, more akin to sprawling spiderwebs. It’s tricky to achieve without the right tools. Putting them in the hands of decision makers and frontline staff, rather than in the IT department where they’ve typically found their home, makes it possible for companies to adapt their supply chain planning models quickly and simply.

  1. Embracing blockchain

It’s the high-tech development that’s shot to prominence in recent years – but when it comes to blockchain, interest and adoption are two different things. Expect that to change in 2019 and beyond as larger organisations progressively implement aspects of the technology within their supply chains. Smaller players that fail to follow suit may struggle to keep up.

  1. Retail alert

Optimising the supply chain is important for organisations of all stripes, but in one sector it’s critical. For retailers with an omni-channel model, featuring both bricks and mortar outlets and an online presence, having a supply chain that can service both efficiently is imperative. There are significant differences between supplying one or several stores and supplying thousands or millions of individual customers. For organisations attempting to make a go of these two very different business models simultaneously, tools that provide a holistic view of inventory aren’t nice to have – they’re essential. Without them, it’s impossible to enact the sort of connected planning that allows market opportunities to be identified as they arise and peaks and troughs in activity managed well.

Transform and grow

Supply chains are going through a period of unprecedented transformation, in Australia and abroad. Organisations that aren’t alive to the possibilities that connecting the planning process can offer – and alert to the dangers of not doing so – may struggle to stay competitive in 2019 and beyond.

Patrick Elliott is the vice president, ANZ, for Anaplan. For more information call +61 2 8310 6342 or visit



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