How to monitor and modernize business applications

How to monitor and modernize business applications
Washington, USA

With a tumultuous 2020 now behind us, and as we anxiously look forward to see what 2021 has in store, it’s an opportune time to consider what organizations can do to ensure that their business applications are running at top level to help support their supply chain and overall business operations. Dharmesh Godha, president and CTO of Advaiya, shares his thoughts in the following interview.

What are some of the biggest challenges that companies now face in managing their supply chain?

One of the biggest challenges that companies are facing with supply chain management is having proactive insights into vendors, inventory, shipments, orders and payments. With the economic uncertainties from 2020 still lingering, a growing number of companies are aggressively looking for ways to modernize and strengthen their supply chain. One aspect of this modernization is automation. Another strategy is recognizing and accounting for the need of diversity in suppliers and vendor redundancies. 

Generally speaking, how can technology and innovation help a business better manage supply chain issues?

Adoption of innovative technology solutions can result in optimized processes and stronger supply chain management and execution. With the capabilities of cloud and IOT-based solutions, there is less dependency on the physical proximity of the team, which of course has become a very important strategy given the events of the last year. Automation and integration helps to lessen errors and enhance efficiency. At the end, these efforts result in better satisfaction for an organization’s internal staff, as well as their customers, vendors and partners.

What are some typical signs that existing business apps are underperforming or are outdated when it comes to managing the supply chain?

To start, let us understand that having business insights as part of the outcomes/results/goals are the key indicators to help assess the need for changes and updates. The performance and usage insights into applications and processes can highlight or show some of these signs that can trigger an evaluation. One of the simplest issues to spot is the redundancy of data entry, which, once identified, can lead to better integration.

Regular evaluation of process efficiency will result in catching the requirement for updates of business applications. User experience studies should also be regularly performed to identify the need for modernization and efficient interfaces. Certain applications that do not support the modern interfaces or the cloud-based architectures could very well be candidates for an update.

What type of assessment blueprint can an organization conduct right now to evaluate if their existing business applications are meeting or underperforming needs and expectations for managing their supply chain?

The evaluation or assessment should start at the level of overall business goals and then percolate down through various roles, audiences, processes and applications. From there, an inventory audit of all the existing applications should be conducted that includes the usage patterns, alignment of business goals, integrations, user satisfactions (interfaces/performance), and lifecycle of the application and data (i.e., the need to have right entry points and exit points). We can look forward at these for future needs and integrations, platform support, architectural support, security, compliance requirements, etc. Adding business goals to the application mapping can provide insights into redundancies, holes and needs for the overall technology-based solutions.

What type of benchmarks, key performance indicators (KPIs), evaluation metrics, etc., can an organization put into place at the time it implements/integrates new business apps so that it can measure the performance of these new business apps from the get-go?

I think it starts with philosophy and approach. There will always be the possibility for improvement and innovation with any set of applications. Visibility and actionable insights into the overall business goals and performance are key – having defined KPIs and visibility into them at all business levels is essential. Regular reports and audits that investigate usage and performance patterns are important to identify improvement areas. A business goal alignment check ought to be performed regularly to access and validate the need and purpose of each application. 

What are some of the more popular business app management suites that companies should consider at this time to modernize in 2021?

This is a very important area; selecting the right platform and architecture will be instrumental in achieving business goals. There are a few factors that companies need to consider such as platform architecture, security and compliance requirements, platform extensibility and updates, platform sustainability and platform-provider longevity. A few of these candidates include Microsoft Dynamics 365, Microsoft Power Platform, Oracle NetSuite, Salesforce Platform and others. 

Talk about the role that cloud-based solutions play in helping an organization modernize their business apps for supply chain oversight in 2021.

The events of 2020 have created an urgent need for most organizations to support a distributed and diverse workforce. Capabilities for running a business without being dependent on physical presence or local systems is key for business survival. Modernization requires regular updates in the efficiency and interfaces, which in turn requires the use of cloud-based solutions, with the understanding that these solutions are easier and quicker to deploy and maintain. Given that, organizations could greatly help themselves by considering the abstraction of each solution so that it is relatively easy to swap them if needed.

What are a few essential best practices needed for an organization to implement business applications and automation solutions across their enterprise to manage their supply chain?

I would say it starts by staying agile. I also believe that someone should keep a close eye on the lifecycle of any data or application. Building an environment that looks to leverage insights, has optimization at top of mind, ensures that data flow is not redundant, and maintains security and compliance are all paramount.

What role does analytics play in supporting an organization to get deeper insights into making better decisions and predicting upcoming trends that can help strengthen efficiencies in their supply chain?

Business insights and analytics are the key tools for assisting in running an organization. Ensuring that there are measures in place to have the capability and access to data and analysis, along with being able to create insights from all organizational levels, are crucial. As an example, for supply-chain processes, ensuring a regular insight into the efficiency of the overall procurement system can help organizations make better decisions about when to order, where to order from and how much to order. Analytical and reporting tools can help in bubbling up the issues to provide a quick, actionable insight on how to resolve them. Connected data systems and business-application solutions, along with the right insights, can also provide the complete digital-feedback loop that will assist businesses to run efficiently.

Anything else you’d like to add?

It would be prudent for organizations to focus on the overall lifecycle of the data, and when doing so, consider these factors:

  • data is obtained right from data ingestion (entry/integrations/etc.);
  • data processing and routing (applications/automations/workflow);
  • proper warehousing of data; and
  • obtaining regular insights, analytical actionable insights and derived efficiencies.

This helps deliver the continuous loop that will provide an ongoing opportunity to enhance and optimize processes and applications. By staying agile on the approach, coupled with continuous optimization and delivery, and maintaining a focus on adoption, organizations can achieve a successful digital transformation, stronger supply chain and a modern-day business.

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