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Digital transformation is the incorporating of innovative technologies, talent, and processes to improve operations of a business and ensure customer satisfaction. In the Life Sciences industry, a critical area to target relative to a digital transformation is the supplier quality management function. This area impacts both patient safety and optimal product quality. The effect that suppliers have on the organization is significant given that most Life Sciences organizations depend heavily on their vendors for various aspects of the final product / service. In order for organizations to continually improve their operations, a focus on a digital transformation of the supplier area is required. With that being the case, we discuss several areas to consider to initiate and propel this transformation.

Data Visibility

There needs to be a detailed mapping of data across the entire supply chain. In order to achieve this, the supplier management system needs to be integrated. The enterprise Quality Management System (EQMS) should seamlessly integrate with the organizations ERP and CRM systems. This will ensure enterprise-wide data visibility. The integration will also achieve a “single source of truth” for the data that is used in decision making across the organization.

Anytime and Anywhere access to Data

By leveraging a cloud-based, mobile-ready platform, the data will be accessible to all those who require access. This includes visibility to reports, approvals, record views, reviews, alerts, and other key information from suppliers. “Realtime” access to data helps with faster and more efficient decision making and prevents escalation of issues due to non-activity. It also ensures business continuity and improves efficiency and flexibility for the organization across the value chain.

Scalability

Given the rapid technological changes that are occurring, having scalability across the digital tool landscape will be an added advantage for an organization. This will allow for the flexibility that is required with a dynamic supplier network that is prevalent across the industry today. The business may, for example, expand globally and open new manufacturing locations or change the way suppliers’ risk is determined. Additionally, there will be a need to easily add new suppliers, users, and locations, as the organization grows. Scalability creates a future-proof state that protects the organization’s investment while at the same time providing for the ease of doing business with suppliers across multiple areas.

Custom and Automated Workflows

Legacy software typically forces organizations to modify their workflow to suit their pre-defined system parameters. In order to be effective, a radical approach is needed, where key metrics are agreed upon and the software application is then configured to provide the supporting data to manage, report and modify, if required, those metrics and KPIs. The supplier management and EQMS systems need to be accommodating to the required workflows of the organization.

Additionally, there needs to be an ability to have automated workflows that assist in facilitating corrective and preventive actions – using available tools / technologies such as machine learning (ML) and artificial intelligence (AI). This is a key to optimizing a digital transformation.

Integrated Risk Management

The supplier qualification process is the first step in defining the success criteria and identifying risks. Therefore a supply management system should be integrated with a risk management solution to make it easy for the quality function to implement a proactive approach to reducing risk. An additional benefit is that it helps in building a quality culture that extends across the supply chain.

Predictive Analytics and Insights

Predictive analytics helps in streamlining decisions. Decision-making is faster and there are insights presented utilizing data from across the enterprise to provide suggestions or recommendations.

Predictive analytics can also be used to balance supply and demand, across the value chain. It helps the organization to communicate with the supplier well ahead of a potential issue or non-conformance. Predictive analytics could be leveraged to gain intelligence on demand forecasts, thus helping the supplier with inventory management and capacity planning. It therefore can drive supply chain communication prioritization and problem resolution.

Collaboration and Teamwork

Beyond the technology aspect of a digital transformation, there needs to be collaboration between suppliers and the organization. There needs to be a culture of partnership between suppliers and the organization. Ideally with a win-win business model for both. To ensure this, the organization needs to incorporate a solution that will enable easy collaboration and communication among both internal stakeholders and at the supplier’s end. Collaboration is the core to bringing transparency and visibility and leads to increasing productivity, accuracy, and quality.

Summary

Supplier Quality Management is a critical area to target relative to a digital transformation. This is due to the fact that suppliers have a significant effect on various aspects of the organization.

The focus needs to be on data visibility across the organization as well as ensuring the information is available anytime and anywhere to those who need it. Additionally, scalability of the system to handle supplier management is needed to ensure that as the organization grows, the system growths with it. Along with these specific areas, the supplier management system should have custom and automated workflows, handle risk management, and provide predictive analytics. Collaboration is also an important aspect of digital transformation of supplier quality management. Suppliers and the organization need to have a means of easily and effectively communicating on different aspects associated with product quality and delivery.

Why it Matters to You

Life Sciences organizations are faced with challenges that effect various aspects of the organization. One of the key areas that needs to be focused on by the organization is supplier quality management. The impact the organization’s suppliers have on the end product relative to safety and quality is significant. In this blog, we discuss several key areas that are important in making a digital transformation of supplier management.

About Astrix

For over 25 years, Astrix has been a market-leader in dedicated digital transformation & dedicated staffing services for science-based businesses.  Through our proven laboratory informatics, digital quality & compliance, and scientific staffing services we deliver the highly specialized people, processes, and technology to fundamentally transform how science-based businesses operate.  Astrix was founded by scientists to solve the unique challenges which science-based businesses face in the laboratory and beyond.  We’re dedicated to helping our clients speed & improve scientific outcomes to help people everywhere.