When businesses have good working relationships with their suppliers, products remain consistent across the board and are going out to market as expected. Unfortunately, too many firms are not working as collaboratively as possible with their suppliers, which is one reason why inconsistencies occur and products are not released on time in full 100 percent of the time.
The issues frequently happen simply because the businesses lack requisite visibility and transparency, ensuring that problems are not discovered in time. According to a recent survey of executives in Asia and Europe conducted by PwC, fewer than half of the respondents said they actively listen to and learn from suppliers. Further, only 30 percent of them said they ask their suppliers about their stakeholders. This is despite the fact that close to 50 percent of survey respondents said they chat with their suppliers regarding market updates and new suggestions.
What this suggests is that while the desire for further collaboration between the sides exist, products and processes may be getting in the way. This is where a Product Lifecycle Management (PLM) solution can come into play. By adopting a robust PLM system with a designated Supplier Collaboration Portal, businesses can expect to see the following supplier-related benefits:
1) Ensures everyone is utilizing the same accurate data
By serving as a central repository of all product-related data for stakeholders both throughout and outside the enterprise, PLM provides verified accuracy and accountability. This way, everyone is working off the same data, and issues related to old, missing or expired information do not occur. This is further guaranteed when the PLM solution utilizes a common data standard such as GS1, which provides a common structure and hierarchy for data so that storage, validity and oversight is significantly streamlined.
2) Makes compliance adherence easier
The ingredients allowed in a given product can vary dramatically by jurisdiction, and the presence of a banned product or a lack of ingredient transparency can lead to major fines and a significant loss in brand trust, among other consequences. Often, these issues occur due to simple errors in formulation or supply chain oversight. By keeping suppliers and producers in lock step, PLM helps to prevent these problems from happening in the first place.
3) Provides visibility
No supply chain is immune from unexpected disturbances such as natural disasters, but the effects of such issues can still be mitigated through efficient collaboration between producers and suppliers. When each side has optimal visibility, both partners can quickly pinpoint possible bottlenecks and then work together to develop mutually beneficial contingency plans and workarounds.
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4) Aligns data with business workflows and processes
Data on its own has no intrinsic value, even if it's accurate and can be seen by all parties. Data is only valuable in its application to business processes and goals. Since PLM is built to serve processes across the entire product life cycle from start to finish, it ensures that the initial data verified and validated early on in the process with suppliers is well aligned to the requirements of all business stakeholders throughout the enterprise. This alignment of data to processes makes everyone throughout the supply chain more efficient and effective.
5) Future-proofs products and processes
Problems related to supplier relationship management and data oversight are not going away. In fact, pressure to get both right is only mounting. Product recalls, food labeling debates, sustainability and labor concerns, and much more may only become more pronounced in the future, making supplier relationship management a pressing matter to get right immediately. With a robust PLM in place, businesses and their suppliers have a much easier time staying on the same page.