Collaboration supports supply chain management

Collaboration has become one of the notable buzzwords for companies this year, as many are finding out firsthand the benefits of gathering employees to complete a project or enhancing their means of communication.

Supply chain management especially is one area where collaboration is gaining attention. As many companies' community of business partners becomes more sprawling, it's becoming increasingly important to uphold lines of communication across the supply chain.

A recent report from IDC Manufacturing Insights, a division of the market research firm, highlighted several categories of collaboration that companies are utilizing for their supply chains.

"Manufacturers are using myriad of tools to address their collaboration needs – particularly as the supply chain continues to have a global reach which brings with it the need to coordinate and communicate across multiple suppliers and partners," the report stated.

Integrated Collaborative Environment

According to IDC analyst Catherine White, an ICE is an infrastructure for e-collaboration through a shared directory and messaging platform. These tools allow companies to communicate with business partners quickly and easily to resolve issues.

Team Collaborative Applications

TCAs take collaboration to another level. They are web-based tools that allow teams within the supply chain to share data, such as documents and task lists, in real time. The apps can be especially beneficial for business partners that are located in separate countries or continents.

Social Platforms

Social is a term that's joining collaboration in the lexicons of many companies. Taking principles from their consumer-based counterparts, such as Facebook, Twitter and LinkedIn, supply chain social platforms allow users to engage in open dialogue to share insights and ideas on a certain project or manufacturing process.

Messaging and Conferencing Applications

Much like those mentioned above, these tools for collaboration allow for open communication across the supply chain. However, with conferencing, video is brought into the mix to add a layer to these exchanges. The report added that these are phone- or web-based real-time communications.

Experts agree that collaboration is an important aspect of any supply chain community management program. When companies communicate with partners on a regular basis, strong relationships are built and visibility is shared by all. Furthermore, better relationships will cause companies to be invested fully and complete the project in a timely and cost-effective manner.

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