What is Relationship Automation?
A supply chain network is built on the synergies of multiple players including first, second and third tier suppliers, the contract manufacturers, OEMs, distributors and retailers. And the need is for effective coordination between all of them by sharing of point-of-sale information, joint scheduling and joint product development. The evolution of automation from within the four walls of enterprises to include the outside world has given rise to the automation of relationships within the supply chain, the challenge being to maintain competitive cost in an environment of multiple products, services and customer segments.
Automating Customer Relations
For any enterprise the challenge is to meet customer requirement, by being available 24 X 7 on the telephone, via email and the internet, while keeping accurate records of all interactions, and carefully resolving issues. With an expansion in the product range and services, the customers’ demands increase which is when support systems and tools become the most important integrating factor for any organisation. The response of an employee to a customer depends on the speed of response and downtime as well as well-constructed data proofing tools to quickly understand a customer’s preferences.
CRM-solutions have evolved around customer contact routing, data-mining, decision making and tracking tools that can link into inherited legacy systems.
Automating Supplier Relations
The challenges of vendor communication can be addressed by an effective Partner Relationship Management system which organises vendor leads, profiles and related documents and allows data updates and filtered views on the internet. A good PRM would allow for tracking of usage and activity giving tighter control over communication and thereby reduce face-to-face meetings and direct mails.
Supply Chain by Deliberate Design
A large number of the supply chains in existence today are not designed – they grew and evolved with the industry, which is the reason most of them are complex, not so efficient and do not make effective use of technology. A deliberate design of supply-chain networks for a chosen set of products and specific markets should include supplier selection, information transfer between stakeholders and performance monitoring at various stages. All the above-mentioned aspects of automation are equally important and organisations that use technology to automate these relationships will have a definite advantage.