Although value chains help speed time to market and reduce costs when managed wisely, the inherent risks increase as the chains become increasingly intricate. The consequence of one company's error has a greater impact when that error is quickly reverberated throughout the supply chain.
When integrating trading partnerships, one of the toughest hurdles is managing expectations and ensuring that each company lives up to them. Your value chain will only be as strong as your weakest link.
Newly forged interdependencies will expose inherent weaknesses in your partners' infrastructures. It's crucially important to identify which trading partners are eating into your profit margin by failing to meet expectations.
To the benefit of the alpha-businesses in the pack, many of the more collaborative planning and order-execution systems can provide insight into your partners' workflows. This familiarity can help you educate your partners, keep deadlines on target, and establish closer relationships and trust. But achieving these benefits requires you to keep a close watch on them and a tight rein on the process.
Private trading exchanges can also help build trust and minimize risk in partnerships. Because the benefits of c-commerce are rooted in shared data, an Internet-based supply chain runs the risk of exposing not only proprietary information but also intellectual capital. It could also give partners a premature look into your company's strategic planning.
More intimate than e-marketplaces and private consortiums, private exchanges enable companies to transact business with a small handful of specially selected partners and customers. When critical tolerances on parts specifications or the like demand closer scrutiny when selecting vendors or when companies already possess a well-stocked stable of worthy partners, maintaining a small private trading network may be preferential to opening your supply chain to the world.
Private exchanges may eventually include links to public exchanges, providing automated fulfillment in the event that a local supplier cannot be found. And we will soon see public exchanges that embed private exchanges to give preferred customers and partners priority access.
SCM today and tomorrow
Some of the choicest SCM solutions today, such as those from i2's TradeMatrix Platform and Rhythm suite, offer extremely well developed means for performing SCM and CRM (customer relationship management). Furthermore, SCM products are rapidly maturing, as vendors beef up their applications' capabilities in a scramble for market share.