The following is Part Three of our Supply Chain Matters market education series addressing business and supply chain management challenges among emerging growth companies in pharmaceutical, life sciences and consumer product goods industry sectors in collaboration with Navigator Business Solutions.

Supply Chain Matters has collaborated with Navigator Business Solutions to identify the top seven supply chain challenges for this industry segment. The full listing of supply chain management challenges can be accessed in an infographic located on this specific Navigator Business Systems weblink.

In our prior Part One market education commentary, we addressed the first three challenges:

  • Attempting to manage a SMB business utilizing spreadsheets populated with static data amid today’s realities of today’s 24 by 7 industry and business demands places your organization at a competitive disadvantage.
  • SMB businesses are increasingly dynamic, and require flexibility in business processes and supporting information systems to support ever-changing business growth needs.
  • Pharmaceutical, branded drug and consumer goods markets have expanded on a global basis to access growing emerging markets. Therefore, the supply chain now spans multiple production and supply chain services partners on a global scale.

In our Part Two blog commentary, we addressed the challenge of increased access to global markets that implies a requirement for broadened regulatory compliance.  We further addressed the realities of continuous business and supply chain challenges and the need for more integrated business planning among business and operations management teams. Next, we address two remaining considerations.


Traditional Product Forecasting Techniques Less Effective

With the clock-speed of industry markets far more accelerative, traditional product demand and supply forecasting techniques based on historic sales performance data, are becoming less effective. Integrated business planning that ties together overall business key performance objectives such as revenue and profitability needs with associated shifts in either product demand, available supply, or new customer opportunities, have become new table stakes. Planning processes need to be more forward-looking, anticipating changing product demand or supply needs, while alerting to potential bottlenecks or shortfalls. Sales and operations planning (S&OP) processes now involve continuous assessments of what-if impacts to business performance, and need to be supported by systems that can support such needs for added sources of information and enhanced tools for uncovering changes in product demand or customer order volumes. In other words, today’s faster speed of market changes requires more forward-focused product demand planning needs, capabilities that provide alerts and early-warnings to market developments. That is especially important with new, unexpected streams of unique product demand occur. Such changes need to obviously be integrated with up-to-date information regarding component supply.

A real-time industry example involves the continuing after-the-fact impacts of Hurricane Maria’s devastation of infrastructure in Puerto Rico. As many as 50 pharmaceutical companies that have production facilities located on the island either suffered damage or incurred electrical power constraints that have limited abilities to resume full production, even today, nearly three months after occurrence of this disaster, manufacturers and their customers are seeking alternative measures to make-up for market demand shortfalls. Early-warning market intelligence and product demand sensing capabilities can alert to sudden changes in new customer inquiries or added customer orders for certain products. Likewise, added information from on-the-ground sales and product marketing team members can be more quickly assimilated into S&OP discussions, along with the best opportunities to spur revenue growth opportunities based on the supply chain’s readiness to respond.


Customer Service is Timeless

Customer service does not end after the product sale, but instead manifests itself in pre-and post-sale information and service needs. This has special meaning in regulated industries where required information related to the genealogy of API production and batch production lots not only serves regulatory reporting, but customer service needs as-well. Healthcare or food related customers have similar needs in the ability to capture product information across the tiers of the supply chain, or to respond to end-customer questions related to product composition, presence of allergens or other ingredients deemed harmful.

An SMB focused backbone ERP system needs the ability to capture and securely store such information while making it available as-needed. Such information is likewise relevant to individual customer quality control and customer service processes.


The Cloud Computing Advantage

Many of the early adopters of Cloud based ERP or business process centric technology offerings are indeed would-be industry disruptors or up and coming businesses. Rather than adopt a legacy industry overhead structure that includes owned data centers and IT infrastructure along with supply chain, procurement or product management applications developed years ago, they instead appear eager to adopt a different pay-and-adopt- as-you-go structure that offers flexibility to changing business needs.

Another takeaway is to view Cloud based technology strategy from the perspective of a broader focus on an engineered suite of pre-integrated software applications that are continually updated to reflect changing business needs. Why settle for business application innovation every 1-2 years when every 6 months is an option, and with lower capital and overhead costs.

Think about that- An industry disruptor with lower overhead, infinite flexibility to add enterprise applications and data management technology when needed, and not burdened by existing industry IT and business overhead legacy, operating in a regulatory controlled business environment.

This concludes our market education series addressing business and supply chain management challenges among emerging growth companies in pharmaceutical, life sciences and consumer product goods industry sectors. For additional information readers can access Navigator Business Solutions dedicated resources web page.


Bob Ferrari

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