The Aerospace & Defense industry consists of a complex web of buyers and suppliers. The days are long gone when low-tech, manual processes could keep track of all orders, inventory, compliance certificates, invoices, delays, and supplier performance data. As supply chains become more complicated, it makes sense that A&D companies adopt new technology.

However, technology is not necessarily a cure-all. Without the right strategy and processes in place, this new tech can contribute to poor operating performance, poor customer experience, and increased risk. Here are six ways that the wrong technology could be hurting, instead of helping, your supply chain.

Siloed data storage. Storing all of your supplier, inventory, and procurement information in different systems can cause inefficiencies and errors. Compound that by different systems for different business units, and it becomes impossible to get a true view of your information. You could be costing your organization money in ways ranging from not getting the best negotiated rates company-wide, to not accurately tracking poorly-performing suppliers.

Disparate, outdated backend systems. Old systems present a host of challenges. They may lack the functionality to display or report on the information you need. Patches and workarounds may be costing you time and money. Upgrading backend systems is a serious decision—it can be a significant project, using time and resources. Eventually, however, the inefficiency of an outdated system can leave you with no choice.

Data/IP security & compliance concerns. Almost half of network security professionals report at least one breach during the last year. Technology that is not secure, or that does not control access securely, increases the odds of a data breach. This is particularly concerning for the A&D industry, as suppliers and buyers must share information while at the same time complying with NIST 800-171 regulations covering sensitive data.

System integration challenges, internally & externally. If your technology can’t talk to each other, you can’t get the big picture of your supply chain. You may not be able to fully connect with the newer systems you want to implement for order management, supplier data, or inventory control. Lack of integration between buyers and suppliers frustrates everyone, and can lead you to fall back on less secure, less efficient means of communication.

Overuse of email and spreadsheets. Speaking of less secure, less efficient communication—email and spreadsheets are no longer the best choice for managing a complex supply chain. Using manual processes like these introduces too much risk of error, and can’t give you the visibility and traceability of a modern, digitized supply chain solution.

File size limits. The information that suppliers and buyers exchange can come in very big files. Attachment sizes can be a very big problem if you are using email, and can even compromise your supply chain efficiency if you are using automated systems that aren’t specifically meant for collaboration.

So what can you do?
Moving to a fully digitized supply chain environment can address all of these technological challenges. A digital supply chain transformation includes implementing the right technology and the right processes.

First, you must assess your current state. Do you have a good map of your supply chain processes? Do you truly understand your global spend? Once you’ve done your internal research, you can start to set goals for modernizing the way you conduct business.

Your goals could include making sure that your systems integrate, implementing new collaboration tools, or documenting your governance framework. Work with your entire community of suppliers and buyers so they understand your new ways of working. They stand to benefit from the digitized exchange of information and documentation, as long as you keep them in the loop.

Embracing a digital supply chain model means making an intentional decision to face your technological challenges in order to become more modern, more efficient, and more secure. It’s the first step in untangling the supply chain web.

Exostar is an innovative leader in secure collaboration solutions. Exostar helps solve Identity & Access, Collaboration, and Supply Chain problems for organizations in highly-regulated industries.

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