The Digital Transformation of the Supply Chain: SAP Integrated Business Planning implementation at Cargill

What is Digital Transformation?

There’s a technology-enabled business revolution occurring right now that knows no borders and seemingly has no limits. It represents the relentless pursuit of the conversion of our physical world into an environment represented by information, software, analytics, technology-enabled business processes, bits and bytes. Digits that move across the globe at lightning speed connecting people and businesses in new, innovative and ground-breaking ways.

This revolution is called Digital Transformation, or DT, and while it seems to be the thing everyone is currently talking about, it really is nothing new. It was put into motion with the advent of the first computer, and with every passing year it gains tremendous speed, depth and breadth. It grows only stronger as each mobile device, tablet and connected sensor is imagined and sold. It has the same exponential growth curve as the Internet, and as more people and devices connect it only gains more strength.

Those established supply chains and value chains on which your company depends are transforming into networked, digitized business processes and services at an ever faster pace, whether you like it or not. Technology trends like hyper-connectivity, big data, cloud, Internet of Things and security provide new opportunities for companies to reimagine their business and how they engage with their customers and users.

Impact of Digital Transformation on Supply Chains

Digital Transformation is a hot topic because there are industries who are more digitally inclined than others. While it is more natural to certain industries, slowly but surely all businesses will move towards digital transformation because at the heart of it the changes are in place to help organizations’ relationship with their customers.

Supply chain tends to be one of the industries that is a bit slower to transform but full digitalization is doable. The value proposition for fully supply chains is that it increases efficiency.
Research shows that in the supply chain sector, technologies such as RFID, GPS, and sensors enable organizations to transform their existing hybrid supply chain structures into more agile and collaborative digital models. Supply Chain Visibility Platforms/Tools, Big Data Analytics, Simulation Tools, and Cloud are seen as the biggest technology enablers of digital supply chain transformation.

Unlike hybrid supply chain models, digital supply chains enable business process automation, organizational flexibility, and digital management of corporate assets. In order to reap maximum benefits from digital supply chain models, it is important that companies internalize it as an integral part of the overall business model and organizational structure. Localized disconnected initiatives, and silo based operations pose a serious threat to competitiveness in an increasingly digital world.

The expected benefits of digital supply chain transformation include, but go well beyond, cost reductions for logistics, inventory, and maintenance, improvements in customer service and higher overall equipment effectiveness. Perhaps more importantly, digital supply chain transformation is expected to dramatically improve an organization’s agility. Agility is necessary to respond to changing market conditions, to new market entrants that can threaten existing business models or to unexpected supply chain disruptions. Such disruptions have already caused major harm to the financial performances and reputations of countless organization over the years.

But in today’s globalized and outsourced world, digital transformation can only be successful if companies approach it with a holistic view of their entire value chain. That value chain can include hundreds of partners. So connectivity between partners, cross-company access to data, and the use network-wide analytics become the key focus areas.

Supply chain leaders must take advantage of the opportunities that come with digital transformation in order to stay competitive in today’s global market. Digitization does not mean applying the latest technologies, it means aligning digital initiatives with supply chain goals and adopting a Digital Operating Model to find the untapped potential of existing resources and capabilities, thus resulting in a higher level of performance.

Where does SAP fit in Digital Transformation plans?

Those who recognize the reality of Digital Transformation should think about investing in the latest SAP innovations. This means evaluating SAP HANA and SAP S/4HANA , as well as SAP Ariba, Concur, SAP Fieldglass, SAP Hybris, SuccessFactors and SAP Cloud for Customer.

In July 2014, SAP announced the launch of a new cloud-based architecture for supply chain management that includes S&OP. The product naming is SAP IBP and includes SAP Integrated Business Planning for Sales and Operations, SAP Integrated Business Planning for Inventory, SAP Integrated Business Planning for Supply, and SAP Supply Chain Control Tower. It is a unified data model for demand management, supply planning and financial modeling deployed as a cloud-based solution operating natively on the HANA architecture. The solutions within IBP contain new capabilities for collaborative workflow and optimization.

Implementing SAP Integrated Business Planning at Cargill

Cargill began its journey with SAP Integrated Business planning with a robust, end to end implementation in the Cargill Salt Business, which started in April 2015 with a design workshop. During the summer months, the team conducted an iterative functional build, test, and training approach to enable a Go Live in the 4th quarter of 2015. The goal of the program, which included SAP Integrated Business Planning for Sales and Operations and SAP Integrated Business Planning for response and supply, was to enhance the company’s existing sales and operations planning (S&OP) process and increase the robustness of its what-if analysis capabilities.

The business benefits of the transformation at Cargill

Cargill is seeing business benefits through a ‘’ single data model tying together supply chain, commercial, and financial information, enabling true integrated business planning processes’’.

They include:

  • Generating additional revenue, cost, and margin projections supporting the S&OP process and what-if analysis
  • Increasing efficiencies and capabilities in what-if analysis
  • Enhancing user-friendliness, reducing learning curves and improving user adoption
  • Enabling real-time analytics and improving decision-making effectiveness
  • Accelerating delivery time
  • Gaining the scalability and flexibility to meet diverse business and process maturity levels

No matter where your company is on the Digital Transformation adoption journey, there is a good chance there are hundreds of other companies grappling with the same difficult questions. This is why you should attend ASUG New England event on July 28th at EMC premises to be educated, to network and learn from ASUG members but also influence SAP as it continues to refine and mature its solutions.

Push Your Supply Chain Strategies to Next Level

The right time is now! Push your supply chain strategies to the next level and improve your return on investment.

Increasing penetration of information technology (IT) into supply chain processes across industry verticals is equipping decision makers with detailed insights. Visibility into key indicators is helping make better decisions and improving overall performance. But these days, most organizations, despite improving their supply chain performance through IT services, are struggling to maximize return on investment (ROI).

Sub-optimal ROI from IT investments has numerous reasons: incoherent process mapping, low user adaptability, inappropriate selection of IT applications, performance issues, etc. But the foremost, critical issues affecting supply chain effectiveness are integration between various IT applications for seamless information flow and lack of bottom-up planning. In absence of an integrated IT landscape, information does not flow effectively across various nodes of a supply chain and business functions constituting the nodes are generally left to their own intelligence and available data points for analysis, planning, and budgeting for future. This leads to business functions working for their own goals and targets, and in the process, compromising the goal of maximizing overall supply chain effectiveness.

Oracle Value Chain Planning suite (VCP suite) & Oracle Planning Central (cloud version) are a couple of application stacks which can help organizations enable integrated planning and collaboration with external and internal stakeholders, and ensure better management of upstream supply chain processes. With Oracle VCP suite, organizations can get closely-knitted planning solutions—Demand Planning, Supply Planning, & Analytics, which can be easily integrated with any ERP solution, and enable seamless flow of information across the organization. Oracle Planning Central is a one-stop cloud solution for all the planning processes. It can easily be integrated with an ERP solution and help organizations maximize return with minimal additional investments.


To plan for future demands collaboratively, organizations can utilize the best-in-class forecasting solutions of Demantra Demand Management and Demantra RT S&OP features of collaborative planning. Organizations, which frequently run promotions, can utilize Demantra Promotion Trade Planning functionality to analyze the impact of promotion on demand and find out ROI from promotions.

In short, when organizations start managing their supply chain processes bottom-up and give preference to planning inputs for decision making, they have great scope to reduce overall cost and realize the full benefits of investment in IT.
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PCard: Optimized Payment Strategy for low dollar purchases

Supply Managers are looking different ways to redirect their efforts toward value creating activities while reducing the costs associated with obtaining relatively insignificant items like office supplies, T&E. Many different systems help remove the transactions costs associated with relatively insignificant and low-dollar items. Purchasing Card (PCard) is one of the most valued system that make the supply process leaner when obtaining low-dollar items.

What is a PCard
PCards are charge cards issued by a bank or other financial institution for Business-to-Business purchasing of goods and services. PCards are usually issued to employees who are expected to follow their organization’s policies and procedures related to P-Card use, including reviewing and approving transactions according to a set schedule (at least once per month). Its usage is similar to a personal credit card. It is an electronic method where the supplier receives payment directly from the bank.

With P‑Cards, the end-user organization assumes liability for payment—the cardholder neither owes the card issuer nor makes payments. The organization can implement a variety of controls for each P-Card; for example, a single-purchase dollar limit, a monthly limit, merchant category code (MCC) restrictions and so on. In addition, a cardholder’s P-Card activity should be reviewed periodically by independent of the cardholder.

The card issuer typically provides a single electronic invoice to the end-user organization—at a minimum of once per month—reflecting all cardholders and their respective P-Card transaction totals plus a grand total. An organization does not carry a balance, instead paying its card issuer in full (at a minimum of one payment per month) for all cardholders’ transactions. The organization processes the invoice, creating accounting entries and facilitating payment to the card issuer.

Types of PCards

  • Procurement Cards: A corporate credit card used to purchase goods on behalf of your company. A procurement card can either be assigned to an individual or can act as a ghosted card
    • Individual cards are physical cards, assigned to users. Only the cardholder can make purchases with that card, and that individual is responsible for resolving any issues that arise.
    • Ghosted cards are assigned to supplier locations, but there is no physical card (only a card number). Any orders sent to the supplier location are billed to the ghosted card.
  • Expense Cards: A corporate credit card used to pay for business and travel expenses incurred on behalf of your company.
  • Combination Cards: A corporate credit card that can be used either as an expense card or a procurement card.
  • Accounting Cards: This type of PCards are defined as accounting-specific PCards that are associated to an entire department, purchasing unit (if being used), cost center, a division, or for any accounting combination within their organization, where all users associated with that department, cost center, or division are able to use the same PCard for their purchases.

Benefits of PCard System

The saving achieved by adopting PCard system surpasses the maintenance cost by multiple times.

Four highest rated benefits of PCARD system are

1) reduced costs per transaction
2) increased attention given to more important items
3) reduced time to satisfy internal user needs
4) a reduced number of transactions.

From 460+ Disjoint Systems to a Seamless Experience

How Bristlecone integrated SPS Commerce and Oracle E-Business Suite for ‘Fruit of the Loom’

American apparel manufacturer Fruit of the Loom was growing in popularity and business margins. With two major acquisitions, Russel Athletics in 2006 and Vanity Fair brands in 2007, they felt all the more elated. However, there was something they needed to tackle badly.

The merger of three entities had left them with more than 460 independent systems. Many of them were redundant and unsustainable. Fruit of the Loom planned to launch the transformation project and consolidate their business on Oracle. However, it turned out to be a tough nut to crack.

Plans to consolidate business on Oracle got stuck at cracking the electronic data interchange (EDI). Developing internal expertise for all the integrations was an uphill task. Finally, Bristlecone’s integration between SPS Commerce and Oracle E-Business Suite provided a solution.

Beyond that, standardizing SPS commerce with Bristlecone’s E-Business Adapter helped drive e-commerce initiatives. With the support, Fruit of the Loom has been able to cater to changing customer requirements. In addition, they freed up a lot of resources. Bristlecone’s expertise in technology and E-business adaptation proved significantly useful.

“Bristlecone has been a key partner for us. We really appreciate their focus and effort to make sure our goal was a success,” says Chris Krebs, SVP, Fruit of the Loom.

Protect your Investment in Existing Middleware and Connect to Cloud

Protect your Investment in Existing Middleware and Connect to Cloud

SaaS and Cloud Computing are inevitable paradigm shifts. These days, enterprises have started moving their businesses to cloud. This makes the data in cloud extremely significant for strategic decision making. Earlier, IT managers used to struggle with the problem of diffusing fragmented data silos in on-premise applications only, and now they have the added headache of cloud.

There are very few out-of-the-box integration options available in advanced DWH/ETL tools and data integration platforms. Although there are a variety of connectors available for on-premise ERP, CRM, and HCM applications with leading ETL tools, only a few support SaaS applications like Salesforce, ServiceNow, Successfactors, Amazon and others.

Enterprises need specific and unique connectors that can leverage their huge investments in existing ETL platforms, skills, and manpower to onboard these SaaS integrations on standard Enterprise Data Bus, running on powerful, highly scalable, and robust Oracle Fusion Middleware Infrastructure.

Oracle Data Integrator (ODI) is a comprehensive, market-leading data integration platform used by multiple mid-size and large organizations worldwide. It delivers high-performance, seamless, and code-free data movement and transformations among enterprise applications. It is fully integrated with Oracle Fusion Middleware, Big Data, and Oracle Appliances like Exadata, Exalogic and others.

To know more watch the video here:

Bristlecone Solution:

Bristlecone offers easy-to-use, standards-based, extensible cloud adapters for ODI. They reduce development cost and improve productivity for all data integration requirements such as Data Harmonization, Synchronization, Analytics, Data Warehousing, and Business Intelligence. The ODI Cloud Integration Pack provides adapters for leading SaaS applications in different business areas, namely, ServiceNow, Successfactors, and Amazon Redshift with many more to follow.

The ODI Cloud Integration Pack enables a variety of use cases ranging from data integration, data governance, data harmonization, and analytics in commonly found heterogeneous application landscapes. Some of the typical use cases which are quite trivial for visualization sake are

    • Creation of Enterprise Data Warehouse (EDWH) on Amazon Redshift
    • Data archival from Cloud Applications in Amazon Redshift or on-premise Oracle Data Warehouse
    • Performance and bonus payouts data synchronization backend financial system like Oracle E-Business Suite at the end of appraisal cycle in Successfactors
    • Plugging-in data from ServiceNow for incident tracking in Enterprise BI tools like OBIEE

Business Benefits

      • No subscription, no restriction on data volume and users–ODI Cloud Integration Pack is licensed and follows complementary pricing, tightly coupled with core ODI Server licenses.
      • Huge savings–The pack leverages existing infrastructure, software licenses, and skills.
      • Reduced time to rollout–Bristlecone’s implementation teams have rolled out integrations for cloud applications in less than two weeks.
      • Lower total cost of ownership–Analyst-level skills are enough to maintain integrations created using Bristlecone’s cloud adapters.

To ensure seamless connectivity across your complete enterprise landscape, contact us @

How Cloud Computing as Disruptive Technology Can Help Business!

Cloud Computing is now no longer an emerging technology, it is becoming a necessity. It also is one of the best examples of Disruptive Technology for our generation. In the past PC, Windows Operating System, Email, etc. were termed as disruptive.

Harvard Business School professor Clayton M. Christensen coined the term disruptive technology.  A good definition of “Disruptive Technology” is as follows: –

A disruptive technology is one that displaces an established technology and shakes up the industry or a groundbreaking product that creates a completely new industry.

Based on our experiences at Bristlecone, I want to highlight a few features of cloud computing, which plays a major role in making it a Disruptive Technology as compared to traditional IT Infrastructure and how it can help Business: –

1. Resource Automation: – With the capability to automate server runtime we can ensure the servers are running only when it’s required. e.g. an application server can be automated to run only during business hours when the developers are working. Since with most of the cloud services we only pay for what we use, runtime automation can help us in cost optimization.

2. On Demand Capacity Augmentation: – Traditionally in any service offering a major cost component is allocated to Infrastructure and capacity has to be planned in advance based on the number of years services will be utilized. Cloud computing allows us to increase or decrease capacity in real-time, this helps the customers start with a baseline configuration of resources and then increase the capacity as per the demand. This way we can avoid huge CAPEX investment at the start of the project.

3. Auto-scaling: – This feature allows automatic scaling of resources based on demand, for example If suddenly traffic to a company’s website increases due to some important announcement, the underlying number of web servers can automatically increase to handle the load and once the traffic is reduced the number of web servers can go back to the original count which is the baseline configuration. This way the organization will be able to manage the peak utilization, cost effectively in real time. In a traditional Infrastructure this would have first become a capacity bottleneck and then a long term capacity upgrade cycle is required to meet the requirement.

4. Enhanced Security: – Security is generally a major concern when it comes to cloud, but if you look into the details of security measures cloud operators take to secure the underlying infrastructure, it is very clear that world-class security best practices are integrated into the architecture at all levels and it is much more enhanced and precise as compared to what is generally seen in traditional Infrastructure. Also, this secure landscape is much more cost effective, efficient and in line with world class standards .

5. Infrastructure as Code: – Most of the infrastructure now in Cloud environment can be coded, that means all Network and Server technologies are now available as a code. With proper configuration, complete Infrastructure landscape which may contain thousands of servers can be converted into programs and can be recreated for Disaster Recovery and Business Continuity Planning in minutes.  This will also help in automation of services which will require less human intervention.
These are just some of the features which I could highlight. The most important thing is to understand that cloud computing takes away all the heavy lifting which is required in the traditional Infrastructure Management only to allow us to concentrate more on innovation and automation.

New Era of Digital Supply Chain Management: Ariba Collaborative Supply Chain

In today’s networked digital economy, effective supply chain management has become important differentiator in B2B Commerce. B2B supply chain collaboration involves a group of manufacturers, retailers, and suppliers using the internet to exchange business information and work jointly at forecasting demand for their products, developing production schedules, and controlling inventory flow. The ultimate goal of supply chain management is to achieve a higher-quality or lower-cost products at the end of the chain.
Internet capabilities have a profound impact on organization’s supply chains. Increasingly, companies are recognizing that the efficient flow of information and material along their supply chain is a source of competitive advantage and differentiation. Digital supply chain management is the collaborative use of technology to enhance B2B processes and improve speed, agility, real time control, and customer satisfaction. It involves the use of information technologies to improve the operations of supply chain activities, as well as the management of supply chains.

Ariba Collaborative Supply Chain (CSC) provides missing link in the quest for companies to drive simple, smart and open way of effective digital supply chain. It connects all stakeholders and all systems through Ariba Network. Ariba Network the world’s largest, most global trading platform on which trading partner can connect and collaborate through a single platform in the cloud to lower costs or risks, boost revenue, or manage cash and working capital.
Important to know that Ariba Collaborative Supply Chain is not going to replace the existing infrastructure of IBP, APO or SAP ECC planning engine; rather it provide the missing link of effective collaboration with supplier and trading partners using Ariba Network.

Key differentiators for Ariba Collaborative Supply Chain:

For Buyers:

  • Complete Visibility to Supply
  • Reduce excess inventory and costs from their supply chains
  • Reduce unplanned supply chain risk

For Suppliers:

  • Complete visibility to demand
  • Superior service to customers
  • Increase Order fill rates and Inventory turns
  • Single place to work with multiple customers

new era of digital

With Collaborative Supply Chain, discreet manufacturing and retail companies gain powerful capabilities that optimize the supply chain and collaborative direct materials procurement process;

  • Collaboration on Direct Material PO Process: Supports multiple delivery schedules per line item, Supports critical extensions like packaging information, batch, retail industry content. Commonly used in all manufacturing industries.
  • Scheduling Agreement release with time-phased delivery schedules: Provides greater transparency to suppliers into long term and near term demands of their customers. Self-billing Invoicing option available. Predominantly used Automotive and CPG industries.
  • Contract Manufacturing (Subcontracting Process): Allows buyer to maintain visibility into availability of supply, Demand, Inventory and Production status. Predominantly used for pharma/life sciences and High Tech industries.
  • Consignment Stock Collaboration: Consignment movement visibility improves buyer cash flow and inventory turns by deferring transfer and payment of goods until they are consumed. Common process used by all manufacturing organizations.
  • Forecast/Demand Visibility and Collaboration: Allows suppliers to provide commitment against buyer requested forecast quantities. Process typically executed with organizations who have Advanced Planning systems (APO, IBP) and would like to plan based on commit from suppliers to manage Constrained Planning process. Predominantly used for Manufacturing/CPG industries.

Gartner and Forrester has rated Ariba Procure to Pay (PTP) solution for Indirect Material Procurement as top in the market offerings because of its usability, E-purchasing, Catalog Management, E-invoicing and Accounts Payable. Ariba Collaborative Supply Chain looks promising and gaining lot of traction in market. Ariba CSC can help organization in big way by digitizing their direct material processes and collaborate without boundaries to gain market advantage.

How SAP HANA and Supply Chain Management Go Hand in Glove

Today’s consumers demand quality, availability, and speed, but as their tastes change, vendor responsiveness simply slows down. It impacts supply chains deeply. But an ever increasing amount of data is being generated throughout supply chains, which can be used to advantage.

What organizations need to do:

  • Use advanced technologies to analyze data in real time
  • Facilitate enhanced collaboration across business lines
  • Deliver important business information on demand

Innovation transforms, but disrupts businesses, as they need up-to-date data for budgeting, planning, and decision making. It implies that technology for data storage, retrieval, and analytics must do more than just process and convey. It has to prevent transformations from disrupting the organizations.

The earlier OLAP & OLTP approaches for data storage had their limitations like lack of interchangeability, rigidity, and limited support from manufacturers. That used to result in the database landscape becoming bulky, unwieldy, slow, and expensive to maintain. Moreover, the whole storage/analytics setup was always reactive. It hardly helped.

To overcome the shortcomings, SAP introduced HANA in 2011 as a database offering and seized the opportunity with products that needed in-memory computing like reporting tools, BI/BW, and planning tools like SCM on HANA.
It was observed that an in-memory platform ensured enormous data in local memory could be analyzed. The results of complex analysis and transaction were available easily and quickly. SAP HANA also utilized advanced data compression techniques to store information in RAM, enabling better performance—10,000 times faster than traditional disk-based systems. Consequently, business decisions were quicker and more informed

SAP HANA supports business process innovation by resolving challenges related to planning and forecasting in the initial stage. It provides better in-depth visibility of the entire supply chain and aids in managing supply chain exceptions and deviations. The result is better customer satisfaction. Furthermore, SAP HANA is deployable on premise or cloud. This helps us focus on the core competency area and outsource the rest to the best-of-breed service providers. This also helps bring down operations and ownership costs, simultaneously gearing up to generate customer loyalty, through customer delight and heightened levels of satisfaction.

At Bristlecone, our first ever Business Suite on HANA implementation in the dairy industry was for a well-known Cheese and Whey products manufacturing company. We partnered with SAP for the dairy industry to find a comprehensive solution, which involved end-to-end business suite on HANA platform leveraging S4 HANA and integration with external applications. It would allow dairy companies to enhance Commodity Pricing Engine, integrate with Risk Management, Sales and Operations Planning (S&OP), Catch Weight Management, Active Ingredients Management, Integrated Warehouse, Enhanced Batch Search, Actual Costing, Milk Integration, and CRM.

The US dairy export market alone is increasing at 15% every year. Upon implementing this SAP HANA based solution, dairy companies will be able to address peculiar challenges like perishability of raw materials and finished products, seasonal variations in milk—different yields, regulations on milk pricing by Federal and California statutes, adherence to traceability and quality standards, risk management through hedging, and actual cost management. The solution enabled our clients with streamlined cost allocation, visibility into planning, market variations, and seasonality in the dairy industry.

sap hana

At Bristlecone Pulse 2016, Ashutosh Jain from Bristlecone discussed Leveraging Power of HANA for Dairy Processors.

At Bristlecone, we are focusing on Simple Finance and Simple Logistics for our service offerings. We also have a dedicated COE, well trained S/4 HANA resource pool, and implementation use cases for HANA migration for a Fortune 500 client to demonstrate our commitment to the HANA journey.

Shrinking IT budgets: How to deliver more for less

The last two days at Bristlecone Pulse 2016 have been eventful and we had the opportunity to listen to industry leaders. Jeremie Davis and Tim Weaver from Del Monte foods talked about optimizing technology investments in supply chain; Richard De Souza discussed the digital transformation journey at our parent company, Mahindra Group; Angela Olson shared insights from the SAP IBP implementation project at Cargill; Nick Vyas, from the USC Marshall Center for Global SCM, shared his ideas on how disruptive technologies will shape the global supply chain; and Rob Quinn from Cepheid discussed how to avoid putting value at risk in large-scale implementations. Bristlecone’s very own Ramesh Sivakaminathan threw light on Innovation at Bristlecone and Netflix co-founder Marc Randolph shared the recipe to make our company think like a startup. It was a great learning opportunity and I am sure all participants went home enriched. I thank all of them for making Pulse a success.

Technology, almost always, needs investments to move forward, but what can be done, or rather should be done, when money is not easily available and budgets are tight? We need to do more with less…

According to a June 2015 article, Analyst firm Gartner reported a decline of 5.5% in global IT spend. Many organizations are dealing with shrinking IT budgets due to the current economic climate. In many industries, IT spend is shrinking because of other organizational priorities and constant focus on increasing revenues—without additional investment. For example, in FMCG and electronics companies, focus is on customers and increasing revenue through marketing. Similarly, in manufacturing, particularly auto and discrete industries, focus is more on driving efficiencies in production processes and meeting service levels. Therefore, budgets are allocated to inventory management, lean practices, etc. Overall, an organization’s IT budget depends on multiple factors—state of the economy, the sector in which it operates, and its financial condition.

IT spend is almost directly correlated with economy. During difficult economic conditions, it is the first to be curtailed. IT managers are under pressure to increase the efficiency of operating, extending, and maintaining IT applications.

Shrinking of IT investment is reality in today’s business environment and we really need the best ways to deal with it. A strategy for the times, when IT budgets are under pressure, should focus on the following areas –

Prioritize the spend based on business objectives and current IT gaps – In case of shrinking budgets, the first step is to prioritize business objectives and determine what needs to be handled as near-term priority. This will help in getting rid of non-critical issues which can be handled at a later stage. The current gaps in the IT infrastructure also need to be assessed to find out whether we already have an application to cover some requirements without increase in budget, or do we have something that can do the job with minor hacks or upgrades. Resourcefulness and strategic assessment of the current IT infrastructure will go a long way in helping us do more when the budgets stay shrunk.

Return on Investment (ROI) – There is a need to examine the ROI in terms of both, dollars spent and effort. Sometimes, we have the ability to put in the effort, but not the budget. If existing teams can chip in with some custom development that can help us solve a couple of the IT issues we need to address immediately, we don’t really need to spend. If team size is also a constraint, cloud-based, subscription-based model, or open source solutions should be explored. Using cloud-based and open source solutions can help in saving licensing costs, speeding the development process, and improving flexibility.

Time – As IT is increasingly becoming a robust business enabler, the need of the hour is a quick, stable application that does the work. Infinite timelines and patience have become things of the past. More often than not, the timelines shrink with the budgets. We need to check how long new tools/technology will take to become stable. First, the quick and easy-to-deploy solutions should be examined, after which one may move to large, complex solutions as per priority.

Use green technology – Organizations can implement green technologies like server virtualization and upgrade their hardware to Energy Star rated hardware. It will definitely save money, perhaps in a slightly longer term if not immediately. Virtualization is a process of combining multiple systems or servers to run on a single server or device. Organizations need to use virtualization to combine several physical servers into a single server, saving the cost of hardware, and providing long-term cost savings for ongoing maintenance, management, and energy usage. Additionally, virtualization is also possible for networking devices, disk storage, and even desktops. Consequently, virtualization helps in achieving more with less hardware and less management.

Finally, we can see that managing a shrinking IT budget is challenging, but more can definitely be delivered from less: with a bit of a strategic planning, practical approach, and resourcefulness.


Opportunities for Your Supply Chain

Over the years organizations have realized the value of an optimized supply chain, as it helps in realizing better business potential and increasing revenues. Today, the focus is not only on getting the right product at the right price at the right time; it is more about aligning your supply chain strategies with that of your suppliers, distributors, and customers, to gain a collective competitive edge. With procurement and production going global, it is important for businesses to ensure:

  • Collaborative streamlined supply chain
    Collaboration helps in building relationships that can influence the long-term sustainability of a business. Seamless collaboration between all the stakeholders help in building a deeper relationship and trust between the trading partners, leading to gaining more of the business. Collaborative relationship also help in increasing sales volume from downstream buyers, lowering operational costs within the relationship, word-of-mouth referrals, and new product and process innovations resulting from the working relationship between trusting partners.
  • Transparency, quality and sustainability
    These days consumers want to make sure that the products they purchase are of high quality, reliable and responsibly sourced.  This specifically applies to the food services industry, which has seen a major trend in the consumption of healthier options as compared to low-cost offerings. Other than quality, the safety and handling of raw materials through all stages of production is of utmost importance for optimized supply chains.
  • Faster access to valuable information
    Information sharing or providing the right amount of significant information to those who need it and when they need it, is critical for effective Supply Chain Management. A study conducted jointly by Stanford University and Accenture, looked at 100 manufacturers and 100 retailers in the food and consumer products industry, and found that the companies that reported higher than average profits were the ones that were engaged in higher levels of information sharing. Timely access to significant information in supply chain leads to decrease in costs, less inventory, better decision-making, reduced cycle time and better customer service, besides reducing the manual transaction processing time.
  • Supply chain that runs on predictive data
    As organizations are going global, the supply chain is becoming more complex and harder to protect from interruptions. Although global supply chains can increase efficiency, they can also increase risks. Many companies are using predictive analytics to deal with such complexity. Predictive analytics are used to determine the consequence of an event as well as the likelihood of a situation occurring using several statistical techniques. According to an infographic from SAP, 68% of organizations that use predictive analytics have realized a competitive advantage, while 86% say the technology will have a major positive impact on their organization. The applications of predictive analytics are nearly endless, from deciding where and how to source raw materials to managing supply risk and optimizing production and logistics.


Bristlecone Pulse! – Your chance to attend and learn about latest trends in supply chain, procurement, and analytics

Bristlecone Pulse 2016 is a premier supply chain event that features top experts and industry leaders who have mastered their supply chains. Listen to Rob Quinn from Cepheid, talk about “Maintaining Focus: Don’t Risk Value for Vision” and attend Gartner hosted panel discussions with Alex Soejarto, Research VP.