Assurance of Supply
How Confi dence in a Reliable Supply Stream
Creates Healthy Companies
A GT Nexus White Paper
© GT Nexus, Inc. | www.gtnexus.com2
One of the greatest supply chain challenges that companies face today is to reliably and profitably meet global
demand. Outsourced manufacturing, lengthy global supply chains, a large number of suppliers, and volatile
demand all create an environment where supply chain decision-makers feel frantic. They worry that their sup-
ply base can’t deliver on the promises they’ve made.
Companies that have a strong assurance of supply program have confidence in their ability to fulfill demand. They
know when a manufacturing plan is faltering or lead times are expected to grow. They’re able to make changes in
the execution stages to account for disruption and volatility. However, in the current global trade environment,
there are many companies that lack that confidence. They’re applying old strategies to a new world.
What Used to Work is No Longer Practical
Traditionally, concerns about how to reliably fulfill demand have been left to ERP systems that connect on a
one-off basis to systems involved in a company’s supply chain. These fail to paint the entire picture, leaving out
crucial data from the many disparate systems involved in a global supply chain. Yesterday’s supply chains were
simpler, with most of the data residing within the four walls of the company — and therefore in the company’s
Today, a company’s supply chain is dependent on a large number of external partners. Suppliers from various
regions ship parts and products globally and they, in turn, source their parts from n-tier suppliers in other
regions. Transportation providers, carriers, and 3PLs ship the products across continents to warehouses,
stores, or consumers. Financial institutions and third-party agents aid in getting products to final destina-
tion and payment. And all of these parties have a one thing in common: a stake in creating a successful supply
ERP software can’t turn the external data from multiple partners in a supply chain network into meaningful,
real-time information. As a result, enterprises lose control and confidence in their flow of supply. Lead times
fluctuate and inventory grows. The spotlight shines on planning, while the real problems lie in the execution.
Better Systems Call for Collaboration
As inventory moves along the supply chain, managers must be able to view points of potential disruption. This
starts at the very beginning, with suppliers ensuring materials for production will arrive on time, and ends
with the customer paying for the final product. Each point along the supply chain involves different external
partners — if all of them have access to a single, updated source of information, they can attain the level of
orchestration needed to assure that the flow of supply continues on uninterrupted.
© GT Nexus, Inc. | www.gtnexus.com3
Assessing the Symptoms: An Unreliable Supply Flow
Supply assurance can’t be locked down in a single point in the supply chain. Meeting assurance of supply goals
calls for a holistic assessment of supply chain operations, from the factory to the end customer. When com-
panies are dealing with uncertainty in supply channels, they’ll likely experience several symptoms that can
amount to large numbers in lost profi ts and excess costs.
Buffered inventory stacks up to guard against risk.
Without in-transit visibility, there’s a need for excess inventory to
safeguard against possible disruptions or delays in supply chain
activity. It’s common for companies to assume that buffer stock is
just part of reality, but the best-in-class know that to stay competi-
tive, waste must be eliminated. Those experiencing reduced profi t
margins from inventory costs will see an improvement as they focus
on assuring supply.
Inaccurate lead times lower customer satisfaction and
make planning useless.
When lead times are inaccurate, companies must choose between breaking commitments to customers or pay-
ing high prices to expedite shipments via last-minute airfreight. The former erodes consumer confi dence in a
brand, while the latter cuts deeply into profi t margins. Companies need to maintain tight control over global
fl ows and partner activity by focusing on execution, enabling themselves to react quickly to demand volatility
to fi x errant lead times and improve customer delivery.
Are You Worried About These
Top 3 Drivers of Risk?
1. Demand volatility
2. Lack of supply chain visibility
3. Increasing operational
FIGURE 1: Companies get a reliable supply fl ow when they go from operating in silos to using real-time data from every supply
chain partner to allocate inventory and manage disruptions.
© GT Nexus, Inc. | www.gtnexus.com4
Poor WIP visibility makes supplier activity a mystery.
Companies typically struggle to know whether their suppliers will
ship materials on time. Reporting is often manual and knowledge on
whether parts are available is nearly nonexistent. Those without vis-
ibility also rely on partners to be able to meet their own obligations.
Since manufacturers are at the mercy of their suppliers to meet
obligations further down the supply chain, WIP visibility is impera-
tive to keep the entire system moving efficiently. This is especially
important when suppliers are in faraway regions or are not diversi-
fied — a single proprietary chip, for example, can stop production
and delivery of thousands of computers across the globe.
Lack of control over inventory racks up the costs.
Companies that use ERP and EDI technology to manage inventory
find that in the end, it doesn’t work for today’s global supply chain.
Because there’s no way to share accurate inventory data among
partners, the company is left guessing where inventory is in the
supply chain. If its path deviates from the plan, it’s discovered
too late to correct the problem without financial consequences.
Beginning at the work-in-process level, lack of visibility lowers the
amount of control an enterprise has over lead times and meeting
Instability and financial stress strain supplier relationships.
Companies today have suppliers all over the globe, many of them in developing regions without affordable
access to capital. This creates a great deal of stress on the suppliers to fulfill orders even when financing is
tight and payment terms are extended out as far as 90 days. This kind of financial pressure leads to poor rela-
tionships with suppliers and margin erosion due to disruptions in the supply chain, making the company less
agile and less cost-effective.
The Antidote: 7 Ways to Strengthen Assurance of Supply With
Retailers and manufacturers facing the symptoms of a weak assurance of supply program can turn things
around by adopting new, cloud-based technology that allows for control and visibility across the extended
supply chain. Supply chain leaders connect all of their suppliers and partners to a single network, monitoring
the flow of goods and managing by exception to assure a reliable flow of supply from point of production to
Scenario: Supply Delays Mean
Upon running the MRP for the weekend
build plan, a manufacturer finds out
that inventory is not available for a
“Class B” part. A machine maintenance
issue at the supplier had delayed the
shipment of the part. Expediting the
order allowed for a ship date that would
get the production schedule back on
track, but lack of visibility to in-transit
updates left the enterprise blind to a
second delay on the ocean trip.
What they needed: The manufacturer
needed dynamic ETAs to see and ad-
dress delays. They needed in-transit
visibility and exception-based alerts. If
they’d had a system that could provide
this real-time information, they would
not have missed their quarter-end
revenue targets by millions.
© GT Nexus, Inc. | www.gtnexus.com5
1. Collaborate on Order and Supplier Commitments
For a long time, companies have focused on planning as the solution to
their supply chain problems. They’ve spent millions on planning and fore-
casting software only to be thrust into an environment where real demand
sharply diverges from the expected. New, networked systems address this
problem by including real-time partner data in the information available to
supply chain managers.
Supply chain leaders have shifted their focus to execution and tighter integration to provide “rapid-
replanning” — that is, to quickly adjust the original plan to meet actual demand. This can be done by unit-
ing teams across procurement, material management, production management, and logistics to identify
sources of risk and possible exceptions.
2. Manage Order, Receipt, and WIP Status by Exception
Before actual production, inventory must be monitored closely to identify any potential delays. New sys-
tems allow companies to have an exception-based workfl ow that extends into the supply base, from supply
plan to work-in-process production steps.
3. Maximize Supplier Effi ciency with Production Visibility
Aligning supply to demand patterns and improving factory compliance can greatly increase supply cer-
tainty. A supply chain platform that can enable agility at the supplier factory level will monitor production
milestones, compliance, and packing and labeling on a single network, allowing supply chain partners to
collaborate easily and make any adjustments necessary to meet demand.
4. Monitor Inventory from End to End
End-to-end visibility is essential in monitoring inventory, especially in the “black hole” that can occur when
goods are in the hands of suppliers, contract manufacturers, and transportation partners within the trade
network. A cloud-based solution gives companies the complete picture of supply chain inventory, by manag-
ing data on available goods, inventory receipts, and in-transit goods. This information is used to dynami-
cally allocate inventory to meet demand, increases the likelihood of getting inventory to customers on time
and in full and reduces costs related to operations, expedited freight, and inventory.
5. View Real-time Transportation and In-Transit Data
In complex supply chains, companies have many disparate transportation systems and agreements with
3PLs and carriers across the globe at various rates. Throughout the transportation booking and execution
process, visibility is crucial. A cloud-based control layer manages multiple systems and allows companies to
make strategic decisions based on a single source of real-time data.
zone of central influence
Logistics Services Providers
“ERP is what we use to talk to
ourselves, not to talk to our
© GT Nexus, Inc. | www.gtnexus.com6
6. Replace Outdated Invoicing and Settlement Practices
Before networked systems existed that could update all parties involved in invoicing and settlement, a
manual three-way matching process was crucial in settling payments for goods. Now, this time-consuming
process is eliminated by automatically matching orders, invoices, and receipt of goods in the cloud, in real
time. This lowers costs and cycle times signifi cantly while increasing payables liability internally and pay-
ment status externally.
7. Improve Supplier Stability and Relationships
Companies can use their strong credit standings to get their suppliers more favorable fi nancing rates. This
process can only be done on a platform where the supplier’s and buyer’s accounts receivable, as well as the
bank, can be on the same page. In this case, the buyer issues a purchase order, the supplier delivers the
goods and invoices the buyer, and upon approval the supplier is offered an early payment discount enabled
by the bank. As days sales outstanding (DSO) is reduced and uncertainty decreased, the supplier becomes
confi dent in its fi nancial standing and ability to fi ll orders.
Developing a Strong Assurance of Supply Strategy for the Future
Companies are altering their supply chain strategies to meet the demands of customers who have very differ-
ent expectations than those of several years ago. Developing a strong assurance of supply program can give
companies the competitive edge they need — through gaining visibility into inventory starting at the supplier
level, replacing outdated manual processes, and collaborating with suppliers and partners to provide better
fi nancing options. As supply chain networks become larger and more complex, the winners in their markets will
be those who customers can rely on the most.
FIGURE 2: In the cloud, fi nancial supply chain processes are all automated. Because of this, buyers can offer early payment programs and help them
obtain better credit ratings with the same system.