Digitally transformed purchasing delivers real-time visibility

CalcuQuote’s founder and president, Chintan Sutaria

CalcuQuote’s founder and president, Chintan Sutaria explains how a digital thread takes the guesswork out of managing supply and demand.

Real-time visibility is essential when making supply chains more agile and resilient to inevitable disruptions. During the pandemic, companies with digital supply chains had greater ability to adapt to disrupted supply and disrupted demand.

Real-time visibility can only exist when the supply chain, starting with CAD and BOM data, is fully digitally enabled. This begins with the way data is used in the quoting process, which is the start of a digital thread that connects the original design to final fulfilment. With that thread in place, you can quickly see the impact changes in supply or demand will have and respond immediately. Without them, you are essentially operating in the dark and relying, at best, on spreadsheets, expertise or tribal knowledge, at worse, guessing.

This is not science fiction. Tools to digitally transform supply chains from bidding, through purchasing and beyond are available and already being leveraged by forward-thinking companies. Indeed, a digital divide is forming as companies move ahead of their competitors through their commitment and investment in digital transformation.

In a world of instant gratification, B2B customers don’t want to wait for quotations, lead times and availability.

The first stage is access to fast bidding, the ability to upload a bill-of-materials (BOM) and see who has stock, what prices are available and which parts may cause challenges. A single source for certain parts can be a major red flag, and we move from a just-in-time approach to a more just-in-case strategy. Software, like QuoteCQ, can quickly read a BOM and provide live data on pricing and availability.

Motivation is three-fold. Firstly, get the bid done first and you may have the best chance of securing the business. Secondly, real-time data from component distributors through APIs provides confidence demand can be met. Finally, these tools are more efficient, so you can focus manual resources on higher-value tasks, like sourcing impossible-to-find devices.

Part two of the supply chain’s digital transformation is moving from the bid to processing the order and getting the product into manufacturing. At the push of a button, API-enabled digital tools move the process from bids to orders.

In 2000 and 2001, when the dotcom bubble burst, billions of dollars of stock was written off because many companies didn’t have a clear stock picture. Post-crisis stocktaking revealed huge exposure to demand fluctuation and massive amounts of redundant stock. Today, we can have real-time visibility of inventory on hand and can see what is available in the market. With this data, we can build intelligent stocking plans that hold the right volumes of critical components, without overcommitting to readily available parts that are unlikely to be disrupted.

The industry is going through its biggest ever disruption. Those with digitally enabled processes and supply chains are not immune to these challenges, but they have tools to make faster and better decisions based on intelligent, real-time data. This crisis will likely accelerate the adoption of digital transformation, which is moving from nice to have to must have.