How an Inventory Platform augments your ERP during uncertain times.

If the world was a game of monopoly, 2020 cracked its knuckles, and flipped the board over. Storefronts closed. Production shut down. Hoarding toilet paper caused a national shortage of multi-ply. There wasn’t a single industry, business, town, or person that wasn’t affected. Those that could adapt, did, and those who couldn’t—they hit some hard times. 
So, what did we learn?  

  • Everything we know about business strategy + supply can, and will, change.  
  • What’s more important?  
  • It’s going to keep changing. 

​No matter the cause, good or bad, the future always holds uncertainties, and there’s no way to predict how it’s going to affect us.
  
With eCommerce hitting record numbers in June/July, it’s no wonder that companies were scrambling to keep up with orders. The very best of them set the new standards for customer satisfaction in the supply chain, while those who didn’t make changes when they needed to, saw all-time lows in customer satisfaction. 
The biggest factor? Flexibility + adaptation. Businesses who shifted to a digital strategy for supply + staffing in 2020 did well. Companies that already prioritized AI, Machine Learning, and cloud-based connectivity in their Inventory Management did even better.  

Here’s why: 

The problems of 2020, for the most part, were externally caused. Your supply didn’t stop because your manufacturers moved to Antarctica. Wal-Mart didn’t see less in-store sales because they started charging for parking spaces (If you’re a Big-Box exec reading this, please don’t get any ideas). The whole world hit the brakes because of something we couldn’t see, predict, or control.  

If your business strategy is still relying on an ERP, you probably felt this the most. Don’t get us wrong, ERPs are great at some things, but definitely not everything.  

Accounting: No Problem. 

Working with mobile inventory apps: Not so much 

ECommerce integration: better luck next time. 

ERPs were built with an internal focus in mind. In other words, as long as supply + business models stay the same, an ERP will work just fine. However, in today’s world, this is hardly ever the case. If you are only focused on one thing at a time, you’re missing opportunities left and right.  

Rather than focusing on internal solutions + data, a Digital Supply Network looks outwards. They let you leverage multiple vendors for supply, so you can plan for upcoming demand + meet your deadlines on-time. Basically, it picks up where your ERP left off to help you find what you need, when you need it.  
A lot of companies have success with Microsoft D365 and it’s cloud-based model, but this only works if the rest of your system has the same external focus as well (businesses get the most out of systems like D365 when paired with Power Automate + Logic apps to help fill gaps in the supply chain).  

Finding the solution that fits: 

Let’s say you stop reading the article right here. You decide to get a DSN it’s got a framework that uses dynamic authentication methods, and a powerful, scalable integration that can build off what you already have.  

You’re excited, your colleagues are excited, you take it out of the box, and try to implement it, and—nothing. Sadly, this happens often, because a lot of ERPs aren’t built to handle the kinds of information a DSN works with. So, you need to find a solution that connects the two and puts them on the same page. This solution is an Inventory Platform.   

The Inventory platform gives them the information they need to work, and a common home-base for all your system’s information. Paired with your ERP, D365, and any other systems you use to manage + track supply, the Inventory platform can navigate all sources of your information, with a powerful UI that makes onboarding + implementation a breeze. If you’re looking to learn more about WithoutWire’s Power BI capabilities, check out our Knowledgebase

Of course, there’s still an asterisk for using another system. Let’s say, for example, you source a DSN from a smaller shop, custom-built just for your business. But, within a year, your business strategy, locations, inventory, everything, has changed. You’ve got multiple locations, needing hundreds of serialized parts, undergoing complex site transfers monthly. Does the system you implemented a year ago still stand up? We hope so. If not, you’re back where you started. 

The beauty of an Inventory Platform is flexibility and scalability. No matter what your suppliers use, no matter how many SKUs, no matter what the industry or function of any part of your business, your ERP, DSN, and all of your customizations you’ve made are ready to change, adapt, grow + build through AI, Machine Learning, and optimizations that are focused on a world filled with entropy and change. 

So, if you needed a sign: here it is. Things aren’t just going to return to the way they were because we want them to. Change is the only constant. So, if you’re looking to improve your supply chain in uncertain times, look outward, and look for a system that grows with you.  

As always, we’re here to show you how  you can make Inventory Management easier. Get in touch with us, and we’ll get you what you need. 

Want to explore more? Check out our recent podcast on this subject.