The New Normal: Continue Business, Digitally

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10 Supply Chain Trends That Boost Shareholder Value

Research conducted by the University of Tennessee has identified 10 definite “game-changing” supply chain ideas that can make companies more competitive. The UT supply chain management faculty identified the points after surveying 163 supply chain professionals from 132 companies.

“World-class companies need to revisit these trends on a regular basis to stay abreast in today’s dynamic and rapidly changing environment,” said Paul Dittmann, executive director of UT’s Global Supply Chain Institute. The trends are:

1. Customer relationship management: leading companies are segmenting products and customers and developing individual supply chain solutions for respective segments. One firm eliminated 48 per cent of its inventory while improving on-shelf availability from 96 per cent to nearly 100 per cent by doing so.

2. Collaborative relationships: collaborations between customer and supplier can produce dramatic effects. OfficeMax collaborated with supplier Avery Dennison to increase revenue by more than 22 per cent, and save more than $11 million (R116.6 million) in logistics costs.

3. Transformational strategy: the report claims that only 16 per cent of firms have a documented multi-year supply chain strategy. Whirlpool used a transformational strategy to deliver record-high service levels while decreasing logistics costs by $20 million (R212 million).

4. Process integration: according to the survey, integrating processes and eliminating silo walls can have tremendous impact.

5. Driver-based metrics: changing performance measurement and the firm’s goal-setting system.

6. Information sharing and visibility: sharing, linking and interpreting big data using business analytics tools.

7. Demand management: increasing forecasting accuracy along with integrating the demand and supply functions across the supply chain can drive higher revenue, lower working capital, and decrease costs.

8. Talent management: critical competencies in hiring top supply chain talent include global orientation, leadership and business skills, and technical savvy.

9. Virtual integration: a fundamental characteristic of a great supply chain is for a company to stick to its core competencies and outsource the rest to world-class service providers.

10. Value-based management: by delivering outstanding availability of goods and services, supply chain is able to create shareholder value.

The 10 Supply Chain Trends Businesses Cannot Ignore

By Boris Felgendreher


Supply chain is no longer an afterthought for CFOs, CEOs, investors and board members. As the supply chain rises to be a key concern for businesses, GT Nexus has identified a number of trends that can be expected this year:


1. Networked companies come out ahead.

Collaboration is a critical element of a supply chain and we expect to see more companies fully integrate throughout their network of suppliers and customers. Organisations need to work as an integrated network of companies, with access to the same latest information, working towards a shared mission to deliver results and be ahead of their competitors. Strategies need to be planned and implemented via the various groups to achieve the desired results. A business network will allow companies to be agile, responsive, flexible, and efficient.


2. Siloed companies are falling behind.

Businesses which break down silos by focusing on transforming efficiency, transparency and risk exposure will gain an advantage. Overall net savings can be measured through reduced routing delays and faster reactions to changing trends.


3. Responsibility and traceability.

As businesses expand globally, they are realising the need for transparent and traceable supply chains. Businesses will continue to put their global supply chains in the hands of a safe and secure IT platform.


4. Sustainability.

Major food and drink retailers have found themselves under the critical eye of government policies and customer pressure. With consumers becoming increasingly aware of issues around sustainability and expectant that companies have policies in this area, supply chains need to sit up and listen.


5. Acceleration of the supply chain.

This can be best achieved through partnerships and collaboration. 2014 will be the year when solution providers offer strategic, tailored and easily deployed packages to help businesses accelerate their supply chain.


6. Digitisation of the supply chain.

Supply chain analytics will allow businesses to create useful key performance indicators and incubate innovative ideas to successfully manage service levels. Daily monitoring, sharing, and interpretation of analytics will help businesses plan.


7. Big data.

The potential of big data is becoming evident in all areas of business and this is the case for the supply chain. Businesses that capture and analyse the huge amounts of data generated around shipment and transport will continue to improve efficiency. Companies that take advantage of collaborative solutions to process and analyse this data will reap the benefits of cost reduction, capacity control and risk management.


8. Disruption.

With increasingly erratic weather across the globe in the past few years, and the effects of climate change being felt, the supply chain has experienced many disruptions. The Supply Chain Resilience 2013 survey highlighted that 62 per cent of business continuity professionals felt “top management commitment to managing the supply chain is inconsistent or totally lacking”. Proactively assessing the risk of disruption and developing a risk management strategy continues to be crucial to meeting supply and demand challenges.


9. Supply chain gains prominence at the C-level.

Today, CFOs, CEOs, investors and board members recognise the value of a good supply chain. They also recognise the significant risks. This will continue as more consumers become conscious of global production. The supply chain is under a microscope and businesses must maintain a balance between growth, profitability, responsibility and customer service.


10. Interest rate volatility will send shocks through global trade.

On 28 January 2014 the Turkish central bank raised the overnight lending rates from 7.75 per cent to 12 per cent. Rapid shifts like this have a huge impact on both businesses and trading partners sourcing from that point. The same volatility exists in places such as China. As the global economic recovery continues with uneven results, countries seek to regain their footing but will still find balancing economic stimulation and devalued currencies a struggle, the result being occasional interest rate shocks.

Fact: Improvement in data intelligence results in additional revenue growth and increased profitability

Recent research carried out in a number of enterprises in different industries has revealed an interesting truth: a 20% improvement in data intelligence can result in 2.6% additional revenue growth and 2.2% increased profitability year over year.


See report

Sage ERP X3 version 7: the top 7 enhancements

Here’s a look at the top 7 improvements in the latest rendition of Sage ERP X3 and a timeline of the process behind their development.


Sage ERP X3-top-7-enhancements

5 Steps to Developing an Excellent Supply Chain

Developing an excellent supply chain is key to achieving and enhancing competencies that are vital to the success of a business, qualities such as productivity, efficiency and quality. Your supply chain is the key to your responsiveness to customer needs and greatly affects the profitability of your business. In order to develop an excellent supply chain, one must have a basic understanding the main characteristics that are essential to good supply chain management.

A good supply chain must:

  1. be flexible and adaptable
  2. enable growth
  3. have the capability to mitigate the impact of a wider volatile market
  4. be visible
  5. enable control and autonomy

Flexibility and Adaptability

Constant changes in the broader market and economy can mean the organisational structure of a business needs to be flexible and adaptable in order to survive. A supply chain management system that is responsive to market dynamics and the changing needs of the business enables quick structural changes in the most efficient way.

Enabling Growth

As your business grows, so does your supply chain, necessitating a supply chain management solution that is scalable according to your organisation’s needs.

Control and Autonomy

Obtaining the best mix of central control and local autonomy is key to being able to make quick changes in your supply chain with minimal delays and disruptions to the flow and continuity of your business. This also enables direct engagement with internal and external customer needs.

Mitigating the impact of a volatile market

Dampening the effects of negative changes in the market has a lot to do with the flexibility and responsiveness of your supply chain. When a supply chain is flexible and responsive, it becomes easy to effect any changes that will prevent losses in profit and wastages of stock, especially in retail industries.


Enhanced visibility and flexibility have the power to boost the confidence of a sales team by enabling them to cross-sell a wider range of products and services in a way that is more responsive and effective.

Following these steps has assisted many organisations to grow the service side of the business to drive up profitability in cyclical downturns.

The Fifth Element of Marketing: Supply Chain Management

The existence of competition means that there is always a need to differentiate your products and services from those of other enterprises in your space. And because nowadays product differentiation is hardly a significant factor in many industries, the only way to do this is sometimes through means beyond the popular planes of marketing. It is necessary to find other, more flexible aspects of your product and process approach beyond common elements such as packaging, pricing and placement. This is the side that most businesses ignore, and yet it is just as flexible as the more familiar elements of marketing and even holds greater potential in many instances to affect the overall image and perception of a product or service.

A business’ supply chain can be the secret weapon that drives profits to the highest possible margins in an industry – especially in markets where there is little or no product or service differentiation. Whether your enterprise’s supply chain is focused on physical goods or services, meeting and surpassing the demands of your clientele means that your supply chain must be defined by qualities such as efficiency and timeliness. Your supply chain can also be your business’ Achilles’ heel – the spoiling factor of an otherwise great product or service.

For example, take an instance where a client requires a certain good or service to be delivered within a limited time frame. The client approaches two potential suppliers with a brief outlining the short period of time within which the specified item must be delivered. Only the one with an agile supply chain will be able to meet the client’s requirements and be awarded the contract. Such situations occur on a daily basis, and sometimes costs us more than we realise. It is, however, very possible to transform an enterprise’s supply chain into an efficient and responsive business asset that grows an organisation’s profit margins significantly. According to Tim Richardson in an article on, there are 6 major steps to be taken to transform a service supply chain:

1. Take ownership

Ownership of the service supply chain has to come from the top and be defined with clear parameters and areas of responsibility.

2. Create a strategic understanding

In complex organisations, a cohesive strategy can get lost. Defining the service requirement in supply chain performance terms – including variables such as speed, flexibility and reliability across different markets and between current and legacy products – is key. A consultative process helps develop a template that clearly defines what the service supply chain is required to deliver.

3. Align and integrate

It’s vital that the purpose of each step in the supply chain is clear. The alignment of the service supply chain needs to be guided by specific market needs. Develop a supply approach that drives through efficiencies and creates the flexibility and resilience to respond to changing customer demands more effectively.

4. Consider an inventory re-profile

With service supply chain transformation comes a need to review inventory. A major stock keeping unit level re-profile of inventory may not only mirror a newly adopted structure and resupply routes, it may also reflect historical usage patterns, introducing a consistent level of service. This often calls for a major culture shift, but demonstrating the wider opportunity that an efficient supply chain can deliver can be compelling. Achieving that right balance between flexibility and cost means an organisation can respond to changing customer demands more effectively.

5. Take a global view

This is probably the most important lesson. All too often we see customers’ global operations structured and working in total silos. Even in multinationals that have so much to gain from re-evaluating this approach. Conversely, we see smaller organisations creating great examples of agile service supply chains in a truly global capacity. It’s about thinking right across the business and integrating customers and suppliers into that view. What will make the difference is where the whole, rather than the individual segment of the service supply chain is optimised. The right attitude helps when breaking down these silos. Visibility and accessible processes will deliver that advantage here.

6. Inhabit your customers’ world

It is essential to align yourself with your customers’ world when shaping high-performing supply chain processes. Moving closer to your customer delivers end-to-end integration and is how you see your own business in their terms. This is about thinking in market terms to create competitive advantage. The common thread across these steps is culture and aligned processes and thinking – shifting an organisational mindset to be more collaborative, flexible and integrated through every step-change.

Mucheki Consulting West African Chapter Expanded

In line with our vision to enable African companies to become globally competitive, we recently teamed up with local partners in Ghana and Nigeria to facilitate the provision of an unparalleled Sage ERP X3 consulting and implementation services in the West African market?. Our partner companies in the new collaboration include Multisoft Ghana, Beta Computers and Lagetronix.

The move takes place on the cusp of a trend of substantial economic growth that is currently taking place in the region and specifically in its manufacturing sectors where new demand is being created for better product and service quality enabled by state of the art business information systems such as Sage ERP X3.

A positive economic outlook

The Ghanaian economy expanded by 7.1 percent in 2013, led by faster growth in the country’s financial services sector. And while this sector continues to grow, the mainstay of the west African country’s economy, like many African countries, remains its agricultural sector. Ghana’s industry output, which includes manufacturing and oil production, expanded by 7 percent in 2013, while agriculture rose by 5.2 percent.

In response to this trend, we will be commencing activity in the country’s manufacturing and supply chain industry in June and we are looking forward to sharing our skills with local service providers and expanding Sage ERP X3’s footprint in West Africa.

Enabling African companies to become globally competitive

A recent growth trend in local support for the market-leading product in Ghana and surrounding countries has meant that a sustainable, confident market for Sage ERP X3 is steadily developing and promises to be established in the near future.

Most exciting about our latest move is the active role that we are set to play as contributors toward making African companies globally competitive through structured business intelligence that will improve product and service quality as well as efficiency. In addition to the many benefits of Sage ERP X3, Mucheki Consulting underlines an emphasis on creating a good and long lasting relationship with all our customers. We foster a commitment to transferring as much knowledge as possible to customers so that they are not heavily dependent on us for support, and follow an implementation methodology that encourages customer participation and a sense of ownership for the project.

We understand business processes, supply chain management principles and we are certified in the same so that our consultants are able to competently engage our customers at every level of the business. Our prime focus as an IT services provider is not only software sales but the provision of practical solutions to real business problems.

What makes an ERP solution more usable?

Originally posted on

Having the same look and feel—no matter the device

You can accomplish much more, much faster when you can access full ERP functionality online, using your browser and mobile device of choice. With Sage ERP X3 version 7, you can go where your business takes you—check on inventory, take orders, approve expenses, or pull up-to-the-minute reports—and make informed decisions on the spot.

Intuitive workflows that increase productivity

Navigating your ERP system should be as intuitive as browsing a website. With the new Sage ERP X3 version 7, navigate the web-based interface using familiar hyperlinks, page scrolling, and search. You can bookmark favorites for quick access and avoid digging through lengthy menu options; relevant menus appear when you need them. Visual Process Maps give you a clear, graphic-based view of the task at hand and lead you through each step. No more convoluted paths to get what you need. Now you can focus on what you have to do, not how to do it.

Reduced time and costs for training

An intuitive user interface reduces the time and cost of deploying new software dramatically. When employees can learn a new system more quickly and easily, they take a more active role developing and managing new workflows. This automates and accelerates more company processes. Even occasional users can help cover when someone is out sick or activity spikes, with minimal training on the system.

Immersive information

Have pertinent information when and where you need it so you do not have to waste time searching for it. Intuitive ERP systems like Sage ERP X3 version 7 provide search capabilities (similar to Google) across all functions and eliminate clutter, so you can focus on what is most relevant in the context of any given task.

Personalized views for every person

It is critical for modern ERP solutions to offer easy personalization based on role and preference. For example, the customer view a sales rep needs is different from that of a field technician. That is why Sage ERP X3 version 7 lets you customize views using a simple drag-and-drop process. You can organize information in lists or tabs, move important items to the top of the page, hide fields you do not use, and create shortcuts to favorite sections in one click. Productivity soars when you can configure your ERP solution to work the way you do.

Take Back Control of Your Business

Originally posted on

As volume increases, many business processes that used to work—no longer do. When finance utilizes one management program, warehouse another, and sales yet another, you lose control over workflows and communication. To sustain profitable growth, you must take back control of your business processes.


Controlled growth

To take back control, best-in-class companies rely on modern enterprise resource planning (ERP) software. The right ERP system integrates all information and workflows so your entire company is operating from the same information. You get more done in less time, with better results. That positive momentum brings a wide range of benefits.


What can you control?


  1. Your speed of business

Best-in-class companies perform so well because they use their ERP system to integrate all their business processes into a series of workflows within a single, coherent system. This greatly accelerates the velocity at which information travels, tasks are completed, and customers are served, which has huge impact on productivity and profitability. Improve that velocity with the workflows and alerts built into Sage ERP X3. Setting up automatic triggers and communications makes it much easier to expedite matters while maintaining consistency and quality.


  1. The quality you deliver


Modern ERP systems provide a strong foundation for ensuring quality across your organization. With complex regulations and legislation, fierce competition, and high customer expectations, failures in quality can have devastating consequences. A powerful management solution like Sage ERP X3 allows you to enforce fully integrated quality control processes across your organization that automatically enforce inspections to ensure conformation to required characteristics, operational specifications, or expected results.


  1. Traceability


So many features included in modern ERP systems are designed to ensure things go right. But Sage ERP X3 version 7 also provides complete forward and backward traceability at multiple levels (for example: lot, sublot, end-item, ingredients) to protect you not if, but when something goes wrong. It is no secret that recalls are very costly; every day, companies lose millions when they lack the ability to trace and audit their products. There is simply too much at stake: Protect your profitability and reputation by ensuring you have the ability to locate any issue, at any point, and take control of the situation immediately.