Best Practices , Industry Highlight , Salesforce
January 12 | Blogs
How Salesforce Supports Supply Chains
Estimated read time 6 min

As supply chains have  grown more complex and subject to global challenges, staying on top of logistics becomes increasingly important to businesses.  In the traditional, linear progression of manufacturing, bottlenecks, legacy systems, and siloed data systems slowed down processes. But with cloud solutions from Salesforce, businesses can become a lot more efficient.

Today, supply chain and logistics companies are realizing that they need the agility and transparency that comes with moving to a fully cloud platform. They are realizing the 2011 vision of Industry 4.0 of applying advanced digital tools to improve business functions..

The benefits aren’t just logistical; they impact the bottom line. As Accenture reported, cloud use tied to a 26% increase in demand forecasting accuracy. To ensure you see all data and insights in one comprehensive place, choose the Salesforce platform for your cloud transformation.

Salesforce for manufacturing

Supply chain management, perhaps the most important aspect of manufacturing, has more sources of data than most industries. Information is collected in planning, sourcing material, manufacturing products, delivery, and handling returns.

The data collected for each of these stages should be interconnected. But for many companies, the information is siloed, leaving each area of the business with limited visibility or insights. To improve visibility across the entire supply chain, every department needs to access data in one central place.

Manufacturing Cloud

A traditional supply chain moves through its stages in a linear fashion; each stage has its own systems and data. Information is in the workforce and order planning tool, ERP system, MES systems, time and attendance tracking, production data from equipment manufacturers, PCS and SCADA systems, and more. Without integrations between each system, your data visibility will always be limited.

In contrast, a digital supply chain  operates as a network. Problems can be resolved in real time, instead of waiting for one part of the chain to hand over data to the next part of the chain. Data is linked, allowing for high level strategy decision making and holistic visibility.

The Manufacturing Cloud provides an engagement layer that can gather all data streams into one location, creating a digital supply chain. It’s a complete data overview that includes inventory, shipping index, price index, tracking information, weather data, supplies of raw components, and more.

Collaboration can happen naturally when this data is visible to manufacturing, procurement, production, and sales teams. Supply chain managers are provided with everything they need to make decisions faster, improve product quality, and solve problems across the business.

Three benefits of Salesforce

Implementing the Salesforce cloud platform can seem overwhelming but the benefits will quickly outweigh the costs. Here are three reasons to get started today:

1. Align customer, employee, and partner experiences on one platform

Customers want support to be easy and effective. Automating service processes and providing answers fast is an effective way to improve customer satisfaction. Salesforce also lets you offer self service options to reduce the time your employees spend on problem resolution.

To strengthen your relationships with partners, improve your field service performance by making order status available on demand. This improves demand planning, especially during chaotic economic periods, and reduces disruptions to the supply chain.

Having all of your customer, employee, and partner data at your fingertips gives you insight into how you can increase the performance of product revenue streams. Plus, it helps you identify opportunities to expand into service revenue streams.

2. Digitize your sales process to boost revenue

The people on your sales team spend a lot of time sifting through sales data in order to reach their goals. Make their jobs easier by storing sales agreements, order history, and account-based forecasting all in one place.

This level of visibility increases sales opportunities in your run-rate business. Knowing when new stock is available, in real time, equips reps to alert their customers when items are available, before competitors get involved to fill in perceived gaps.

Order details help reps contextualize calls with customers by explaining the benefits of related products. Access to insights about demand and capacity means that your sales teams can plan ahead and grow revenue by increasing delivery rates to stores at just the right times.

3. Improve your supplier and partner relationships

Suppliers and partners often work off of completely different sources of data from manufacturers. Without shared visibility into orders, cases, sales agreements, and forecasts, everyone is leaving money on the table.

Manufacturers who are “future ready” close these gaps by investing in infrastructure that supports collaboration with their channel partners. These investments help build strong relationships centered around data transparency, co-selling, and co-marketing.

Within Salesforce, you can create a partner ecosystem where sales teams can collaborate with their partners to improve business processes and work on deals together. Add in channel incentive programs to encourage partners to work more closely with their sales counterparts.

Salesforce cloud offerings

Salesforce offers a suite of cloud products that can assist in your digital supply chain transformation. As all the products work on the same platform, you can share relevant data from every stage of the supply chain with the entire business.

Salesforce Commerce Cloud

Order, inventory, and demand forecasting provide visibility into what inventory is available and helps avoid stock limitations by pulling in past seasonal sales data. You can manage pre-orders before big buying seasons and plan ahead to fund partner, sales, and marketing budgets.

Manufacturing Cloud

The Manufacturing Cloud was purpose-built for supply chain and logistics companies. By centralizing order and sales data in one place, you can manage recurring, run-rate business, plan ahead with account-based forecasts, and track sales performance all at once.

Service Cloud

Manufacturing Cloud for Service brings the power of Service Cloud to manufacturers with industry-specific functionality. Your customer service representatives can use the Service Console to gain visibility across multiple channels and solve issues in the field. Access to sales and order data means faster resolution and happier customers.

Tableau for analytics reporting

Tableau is a data visualization tool that can take real time supply chain data and turn it into business insights. Start by using the supply chain dashboard for rolling weekly snapshot of your company’s most important supply chain measures. Leaders can start their day informed about high level progress on sales, profit, orders, and costs.

Next, use the manufacturing snapshot dashboard to see everything that’s happened on your plant floor in the last day, week, month, or season. You can view high level order and growth data or narrow down your view into individual orders, returns, and defect statistics.

Lean on the experts for hiring

Running a Salesforce implementation project to manage your supply chain, partner relationships, and customer interactions is a heavy lift. You might not have the cloud experts you need in-house.

Unfortunately, onboarding and teaching someone how to use every data system, manage the integrations that are (and are not) set up, and ensure they don’t break existing workflows can take months. It also may be difficult for hiring managers who are not Salesforce experts themselves to assess the skills of a candidate.

Making the wrong hire is a costly mistake. It results in the loss of valuable time to fix what was not done right and pay down technical debt, not to mention the loss of productivity that could have been gained sooner.

That’s why it pays to lean on the guidance of seasoned Salesforce experts who have both the skills and experience required to streamline your value chain, revenue operations, and partner ecosystem.

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