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Inventory Management / Optimisation
Inventory Management / Optimisation
5 min read

Key Areas of Focus for World-Class Wholesale Organisations, Part 4 – Automation and Control (2/2)

Adam Cavanagh
Published on:
March 04, 2021
Based on our work with clients; analysis of the wholesale and distribution sector; and input from expert consultants; we’ve identified the characteristics that define world-class wholesale organisations. This set of capabilities forms an anatomy that sets apart those businesses who are best placed to succeed as we move forward from the turbulence of 2020.

We have formulated a model for potential, based on what we see as the strongest indicators of organisational health across 6 key areas. Strength in each of the elements gives an organisation both resilience (to absorb and manage market and economic pressures) and strength (to outpace/out-manoeuvre competition and act on opportunity).

We’ve previously introduced the defining feature of automation and control, here is a recap around automation before we explore the element of control and flexibility.

Free your team

As with intelligent replenishment, the focus of this area of the anatomy lies in releasing people from unnecessary manual tasks in order for them to use their knowledge, ability to innovate and capacity for making judgements to deal with more complex issues.

Inventory optimization relies on informed decision making and the ability to establish and maintain crucial relationships along the supply chain. With the freedom to only step into processes when human intervention is necessary, teams are released to spend time making and acting on decisions that will have a positive impact on the organisation. Organisational resilience relies on the capability and flexibility provided by automation and being in control of all the data.

Key characteristics

Within each area of the anatomy of a world-class wholesale organisation, we have outlined a series of defining characteristics. When considering automation and control, these traits are as follows:

Automation: Our core systems feed our inventory management team with the information they need to make decisions and interventions. This enables them to execute their roles without the need for spreadsheets and data wrangling.

The organisations best placed to succeed have removed all unnecessary manual tasks from the data gathering process.

Control and flexibility: Our buyers can easily apply constraints such as days’ cover, container optimization or minimum order values. This provides the team with both control and the flexibility to adapt.

World-class organisations manipulate their supply chain and order conditions in such a way that leaves them both in control and capable of agility.

Why it makes the difference

As we’ve highlighted, not all decisions require the human skills of judgement or innovative problem solving. Many decisions are ultimately rules based – IF this THEN that – and can therefore be automated to release more of your team’s time for other value-adding activities.

But there is a ‘right’ way to manage automation. Alert and prompts being received in the optimal time frame enable your team to focus on the right things at the right time and provide valuable information. However, too many of these alerts or too many requests for involvement in decisions diverts time away from the crucial ‘human’ aspects of the role – maintaining relationships and working to innovate.

Ensuring you have control over the automation process, by establishing rules to define set parameters within which decisions can be safely made, removes the burden of unnecessary decision making from your team. Applying and maintaining these rules creates the space required for the necessary human qualities that are essential for solving the more complex issues that cannot be automatically dealt with.

In our experience, it’s difficult for organisations to self-diagnose the key areas where change would have the biggest impact. The diagnostic tool we have created gives you the opportunity to pinpoint priority areas for attention, highlighting specific activities to help you enhance business performance and resilience.

What is the strength and resilience of your organisation? Try our self-assessment tool today.