To compete in today’s increasingly volatile economy, manufacturers need a connected, automated, real-time means to manage supply chains, source new groups of suppliers, and collaborate with individual suppliers directly. Adding it to your ERP solution provides greater visibility, integrates with the sales, demand, and operational data you already have, and lets you share insights with suppliers to mitigate threats as they emerge.

Rootstock customers now have these capabilities with Supplier Collaboration.


Supply Chains Have Changed

The past few years have been rough for manufacturers, to put it mildly. When “supply chain” becomes a household term, you know it’s not a good situation. Pandemic restrictions curtailed operations and delayed deliveries, and the accompanying boom in demand driven by consumers repurposing discretionary spend into online buying and businesses equipping home offices, it’s no wonder we’re in this continuing environment of constrained supply chains.

Unfortunately, our global supply chain, which had been optimized to an unprecedented level, became a house of cards when the balance of demand and supply was disrupted. The Suez Canal nightmare added to the disruption when it backed up 367 vessels in a single day. Zero-Covid policies in China further delayed container ships, oil tankers, and bulk carriers. Global labor shortages meant transportation companies couldn’t find enough drivers and staff to move the supplies. And then, those supply shortages resulted in higher prices and inflation, layoffs and recession warnings, and on, and on, and on.

So, now what?

The above recap simply shows how the best-laid supply chain plans can unravel very quickly due to circumstances entirely out of your control. Manufacturers now need to mitigate every known risk and plan for every scenario to deliver products to customers, on time, and with a focus on profitability.

But how?

At the risk of using buzzwords, these supply chain capabilities are critical to how your 2023 turns out: agility, speed, insights, and collaboration. You need to be able to shift strategies on a moment’s notice as economic and supply chain trends change. But, to do so, you need supply and demand insights in real-time, and be able to share that information with your suppliers quickly.

With that foundation in place, only then can you focus on what’s really needed to build a supply chain for a 2023 world.

Supplier Collaboration Approach

1.    Search new supply sources

Manufacturers must gain access to additional supply sources, locally or near-shore, that can become alternate sources when needed. Adding prospective suppliers in multiple regions provides a hedge against global supply chain shocks. And, the faster you build these relationships, the more influence you’ll have when you need them.

2.    Optimize purchase prices

Having more supply sources lets you optimize purchase prices through competitive quotes received from many vendors. Lower prices offer better profit margins, obviously, but conditions may require you to weigh prices versus availability, lead times, quality, and more. Start building those models now.

3.    Reduce business risk

No matter how you define risk, a consistent, dependable supply chain, with options, helps you reduce that risk. Insights into demand help you partner with suppliers to prepare for your production needs. When suppliers have more and earlier visibility, it helps them plan and allocate production capacity more effectively.

4.    Manage strong supplier relationships

As you build relationships with new suppliers, work with them to balance price and other needs. As you collaborate, you’re fostering stronger relationships built on trust and knowledge sharing. When those suppliers are forced to choose which customers to supply, you want to be seen as a customer that helps them run their own business more effectively.

A Foundation for Your Digital Supply Chain

Manufacturers must deal with our new supply chain reality as they prepare for future shifts and disruptions. But, as you well know, modern challenges need modern solutions. Cloud technology that easily integrates supply and demand data is where modern manufacturers are doubling down on their investments, even as a downturn seems more likely. Specifically for supply chain management, manufacturers need digital connections with suppliers to provide insights in real-time.

We’re excited to offer new and expanded capabilities that enable digital supplier collaboration. These capabilities help manufacturers foster resilient supply chains, source new and alternative suppliers, and see through the constant volatility. Rootstock customers can now enable a supplier portal built with Salesforce Experience Cloud (formerly Community Cloud) to seamlessly connect with suppliers (aka Vendors in Rootstock). From there, Rootstock Supplier Collaboration lets buyers at manufacturing companies quickly request quotes from any number of suppliers. The buyer identifies requirements and releases RFQs digitally, with full visibility into the process and status of each supplier interaction.

Supplier Collaboration delivers notifications to suppliers via email, on the Salesforce Experience Cloud, or on a secure Slack channel. Manufacturers can further use the private Slack channel to facilitate dynamic, real-time conversations across Slack chats, audio calls, video calls, document sharing, and data sharing between buyers, suppliers, and any other stakeholders tuned into that channel.

Manufacturers can also use Supplier Collaboration to configure supply chain dashboards, so all relevant data is displayed in one place. Digital sourcing is further enabled with automated sourcing of new and alternative suppliers through RFQ invitations and response reviews, and with the entire interaction captured digitally. These online community and platform tools elevate collaboration with suppliers to keep information flowing and relationships strong.

A Digital Supply Chain for Today’s World

In today’s modern, digitally connected world, the speed of information flow is critical to managing supply chain risks. Your demand data is invaluable to creating tighter supplier relationships and mitigating those risks for you and your suppliers.

Rootstock has always helped manufacturers build and manage supply chains that are more resilient to disruptions. Now, with Supplier Collaboration, supply chain professionals can digitally identify alternate sources of supply for critical materials and components, automate and streamline the vendor outreach process, identify and onboard the right suppliers, and activate new sources of supply.

To learn more about Supplier Collaboration, read our press release announcement.

What are the current challenges you’re facing as you deal with supply chain disruptions? Join the conversation and add a comment below.