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The Integration Issue
Author: Mine Kaçan
I have been working with supply chain companies for nearly two decades, and time and time again I see the same issue: companies are struggling to achieve integration of not only their technology, data, and plans, but also their people and processes.
I have witnessed companies across different countries and industries all grappling with this “integration issue”. Oftentimes, the various departments within a company are operating in silos. Each department has its own data and local back-office management systems with their own functionality – production, for example, may use a manufacturing execution system (MES), while sales and marketing may employ a customer relationship management (CRM) system, and the planning department might utilize Excel spreadsheets or possibly an algorithm-based planning and scheduling solution. Even though some data from all these different systems is usually fed into a central enterprise resource planning (ERP) system, the various departments are unable to collectively integrate their information and synchronize their planning, decision making, and execution.
This lack of integration frequently causes communication breakdowns in planning cycles – which, in turn, can lead to costly operational delays and disruptions. For a plan to be successful, the right people throughout the organization must have access to the right information at the right times to make the right decisions and take the right actions. But this is typically not the case in many companies, as there is no unified environment where all key stakeholders can gain real-time visibility over the planning process – so that they know what to do and when to do it. Without a doubt, integration – of technology, data, plans, processes, and people – is the biggest challenge that supply chain companies face today.
In order to achieve integration, all stakeholders must have access to an environment that collects and processes all the data from throughout their organization, provides total visibility over plans and real-time operations, and also enables all parties to continuously communicate, effectively collaborate, and collectively contribute to successful planning and execution. An intelligent, integrated planning and optimization solution can provide such an environment – and ICRON is one such solution.
In the 25 years since ICRON’s inception, we have carried out over 500 implementations of our supply chain planning and decision making optimization software solutions at more than 100 companies all around the globe. Typically, we find that around 60-70% of each implementation project involves data integration – ensuring that the appropriate and accurate information is channeled into the company’s ERP system and that all key stakeholders have visibility over the planning process and real-time operations. Indeed, assessing, validating, and then integrating data usually solves a lot of problems.
But data integration is merely the first step on our customers’ journeys towards optimization, and the next step is the integration of the planning, processes, and people within an organization. To reach the highest levels of productivity and profitability, companies must be able to establish seamless cross-functional collaboration and integration.
ICRON enables total cross-functional integration by serving as the “single source of truth” within an organization and providing a unified environment where all key stakeholders can communicate and collaborate to make optimized plans and decisions. With ICRON, companies can perfectly synchronize their planning and decision making and create a beautiful (and profitable) symphony of operations – by giving the right people access to the right information at the right times so that they can make the right decisions and take the right actions.
The capability to rapidly and effectively integrate a company’s technology, data, planning, processes, and people is one of the unique features of our platform and a major source of competitive advantage for our customers.