Managing supply chains can be done by hand — using paper and pen or spreadsheets for those more technologically inclined. That’s if your firm is small enough to give you a 360-degree view of what is owed, what is owned, what suppliers are sending materials your way and what orders are headed out the door.
For firms of a certain size, however, manual processes prove to be a headache at best and erroneous at worst. With the advent of cloud technology, the lines of communication can become clearer between buyers and suppliers, with a truer collaboration between links in the chain managing workflow, from order to assembly to shipment — in essence, making sure that none of the disparate balls being juggled wind up being dropped.
PlumSlice Labs, a cloud-based collaboration firm, said last week that it has launched its Supplier Collaboration Suite, which is being offered under its SupplierDistrict Brand.
In an interview with PYMNTS, PlumSlice CEO and Founder Abnesh Raina said that, among firms at $10 million in revenues and above, “the level of the ecosystem between companies, their suppliers and B2B transactions has been one of increasing complexity” and comes against a tradition where processes and tools in place to deal with transactions were manual. The transition to a platform such as PlumSlice’s, said the CEO, “allows everyone involved to know who owns which process.”
The gestation of the product itself, he told PYMNTS, came through collaboration with existing customers and their suppliers, before bringing the collaboration suite to market, through a series of what might be thought of as B2B focus groups, with possible early adopters coming from firms with exposure to retail, distribution, consumer-packaged goods and manufacturing verticals.
Raina said that, in the mid-market tier of firms with revenues at a minimum level of about $10 million, the scope of business is usually manageable enough so that supplier relationships “can be done manually … but at $50 million and above, that process can become painful if you do not have a [streamlined] system in place.”
Among functions that can be managed through the PlumSlice collaboration platform are uploading, maintaining and changing documentation that spans product catalogs, inventory information and price lists. Shipment orders can be created online (and, as is increasingly important for firms, across mobile devices) and can be extended across dropship and standard shipment and purchase order configurations.
The most important aspects of real-time information across ordering and logistics activity, said Raina, tie in to consistent assurance that compliance — as measured by correct materials, sizes and so on — are being used and also that information flow keeps early warnings in place, say, for issues that may hold up shipments (and the more quickly they are identified, the more quickly they are addressed). Alerts to buyers, said Raina, are configured in a variety of ways, from modifications done on a dashboard to email, and are sent to both sides of the relationship, such as, by way of example, for notifications of a sample’s availability (or lack thereof) or if alternative arrangements must be found.