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Category: SCM Insights

2024 — the year of change

Like most people this year, I had every intention of writing about the New Year in January, but honestly, the busyness of last year never stopped; it carried over not only from last year, but from 2022, through the holidays, and into this year. Now I feel like I blinked and landed in February. It seems only fitting to write about this new year during the Lunar New Year, especially since this is the Year of the Dragon. Dragons are a revered symbol of power and thought. It is considered the luckiest sign in the Chinese Zodiac. If you know me, then you know my pension for dragons. This year, the mythical creature is paired with the element of wood, which is said to bring good fortune, action and growth. What better way to get started on my old 2020 goals that have reemerged from lockdown and new goals than to blaze a new trail on the heels of a fierce dragon? After the pandemic crisis came to a screeching halt, organizations had to scramble and implement stopgap measures just to get by. When we emerged from the pandemic in 2021, it was paralyzing, with an uncertain world around us while we figured out the new normal. In 2022, organizations began to share more about the challenges they were facing and put effort into understanding new ideas and solutions that could change their current state. In 2023, I saw organizations get more serious about change, especially around digital transformation strategies and initiatives. Now, finally, 2024 is the year when organizations will be driven to change.10 success factors for digital supply chain transformationHere are my mission-critical, key factors for successful supply chain digital transformation in 2024 and beyond:True leadership: Digital transformation is more than a one-time mandate from headquarters; it is a true commitment. It requires an ongoing effort from a C-level leader to not only educate and drive this change, but also to bring their best street fighting skills and rocket science thinking cap to ultimately make the change happen.Strong team: Assemble the best teams that get it and share the vision, passion, and drive to work together to understand and document the current situation, research solutions, build a business case, plan deployment, lead internal and external change management, launch, and work to continually improve processes and the solution.Partnership: Digital transformation is an investment in every sense of the word. The right supply chain collaboration tool is a complex solution that connects data from multiple data points. It requires analysis, planning, design, mapping, configuration, testing, and training. To make this transformation a success, it's critical to choose a solution provider that can guide, educate, support, and share your vision and mission. One that will be with you before, during and after.Be open: With any type of change, it's critical to be open to different ideas, processes, and solutions. The digital world moves at lightning speed and has changed for the better. It can be hard not to get stuck in the past with old technology that maybe didn't work well and outdated concepts that are no longer relevant. Step back, explore, and look at the big picture to find a new way.Understand ROI: Return in Investment (ROI) is both tangible and intangible. It will also vary from one organization to the next. There is no quick ROI answer for a solution; it's going to take some work to build it so it's real and measurable. For the tangible part, the starting point must come from existing data and be aligned with financial goals. For example, simple goals might be to reduce inventory or emergency freight costs. This is easy enough to do the math with current costs and then figure out the reduction targets. The intangible ROI can be much harder to measure, but the benefits can be more impactful. For example, reducing manual effort could result in a happier team that can be proactive rather than reactive, which in turn could result in better planning, optimized build schedules, less overtime, better pricing, less downtime, more on-time deliveries, and some very surprising cost savings. For the intangible ROI, talk to your team and create an estimate. Then align that with some of their goals.Budget: Digital transformation is an investment and requires money to make it happen. A realistic budget with a twenty percent contingency is optimal. It's also critical to look beyond the annual fee for the solution and understand that there are not only external implementation costs, but also internal resources required to implement new solutions, such as a one-to-one ratio of days from your solution provider. It's also important to know what's really included in the package beyond the bottom line price tag. Also, do not forget to budget for change management if you want the project to be successful.Change Management: Implementing a new solution without a change management strategy is like buying a car without wheels and expecting it to go anywhere. Change management requires a solid plan that includes clear goals and messaging, an internal and external portal with information, training and progress. It requires a strong kick-off presentation from leadership and an ongoing, scalable dialogue both internally and externally with stakeholders.The right solution: Finding the right solution and tools takes some time and research. Make sure it meets your current needs, but is also scalable for your future. Configurable is definitely better than custom, as the latter can turn into something that cannot be updated later. Continual enhancements and updates are also a plus to avoid painful and costly migrations in the future. Make sure it works with any ERP and 3rd party solution. It should have plenty of support options. Most importantly, it should be easy to use—after all, it's no good if it's not used.Realistic goals: While there is an urgency to digital transformation, the process takes time and internal teams are working on this mission in addition to their full-time jobs. Depending on the day-to-day business, the research phase alone can have many starts and stops. Planning, budgets, internal approvals, legal, alignment, and preparation can also be delayed. Faster isn't better if the solution isn't right, the implementation isn't done right, and the whole project lacks change management.Solid roadmap: It's easy to get excited and geeked out about digital transformation. Don't skip the planning stages. Create a solid roadmap for your journey, and know that it's okay to make mid-course corrections if necessary. Be flexible, open and mindful.2024! Ready. Set. Go in like a dragon.
Cathy Sue Carpenter · February 13, 2024 - reading time < 6 Min.
2024 — the year of change

Invoicing in China: how to successfully transform to Fully Digitized eFapiao

Companies that want to do business in China and work with local suppliers through their local office quickly realize that invoicing is much more complex than in Western Europe or North America. It's time-consuming, labor-intensive and has many unique requirements. In the future, this complex process will be completely digitized—and somewhat simplified.Fapiao & Golden Tax: an introduction to Chinese invoicingBut let's start at the beginning: In China, domestic invoices cannot be sent directly from the supplier to the customer. Instead, special tax hardware is required, such as a so-called tax control USB disk. In some cases, paper receipts are also required. Most importantly, companies must use state-certified providers as intermediaries and pre-register their invoices with the central tax authority using the Golden Tax System (GTS) software.An invoice issued and registered with the tax authority is called a Fapiao. In the classic Fapiao process, suppliers first submit invoice data to the Golden Tax System. These invoices are pre-validated by government-certified vendors to ensure, for example, that all tax data has been entered correctly.An invoice issued and registered with the tax authority is called a Fapiao. In the classic Fapiao process, suppliers first submit invoice data to the Golden Tax System. These invoices are pre-validated by government-certified vendors to ensure, for example, that all tax data has been entered correctly.After successful validation, the system assigns a unique number to each invoice. Once this step is successfully completed, suppliers can print the invoice data with the assigned invoice number on a Fapiao paper receipt and send it to their customers. These Fapiao receipts are special formatted papers with a seal and are available in blocks from the State Taxation Administration (STA). To issue an invoice, suppliers must obtain a sufficient number of Fapiao paper blocks in advance.If this procedure is not followed, suppliers will not be allowed to issue VAT invoices.On the customer side, the Fapiao document must be automatically recorded, evaluated, and compared with existing data in the GTS upon receipt. This is a tedious, error-prone, and cumbersome process that often requires a lot of manual verification.The following video explains the old paper-based process in more detail: From paperless to "Fully Digitized eFapiao"Some time ago, the paper-based Fapiao process was transformed into a paperless version, although this is not widely used in China. In the paperless process, the procedure remains the same, but the paper-based Fapiao receipt has been replaced by a proprietary digital data file. However, the cumbersome process with all its drawbacks has not changed.The Chinese government has therefore decided to convert the classic Fapiao process, whether paper-based or paperless, into a fully digitized version, the so-called "Fully Digitized eFapiao". This is based on a new central platform where invoices can be exchanged between suppliers and customers in a fully digital format.To comprehensively test the new Fully Digitized eFapiao process, the Chinese government launched a pilot in 2021 in several major cities and regions, including Guangdong, Shanghai, Foshan and Inner Mongolia. Meanwhile, the pilot operation has been extended to further regions.Here are some details about Fully Digitized eFapiao:Fully digitized: Fully Digitized eFapiao is a new type of electronic invoice. It has the same legal meaning and use as the conventional paper Fapiao, but without the paper.No copies: Unlike the traditional Fapiao, copies are no longer necessary. This greatly simplifies the process. The paper-based process involved multiple copies of the Fapiao receipt.Reduced invoice size: Only 17 data fields are required.No pre-registration: No need to purchase paper blocks in advance. The Fapiao invoice number is assigned directly by the central platform.No special tax equipment: Enterprises do not need to purchase special tax control equipment such as USB disk, tax control USB disk and Tax UKey in advance. Instead, they can issue the Fully Digitized e-Fapiao directly through the national e-invoice platform.Diversified input channels: In the current pilot phase, it is possible to issue invoices directly through the central platform. Soon, this will be extended to digital terminals and mobile applications.Reduced workload: Scanning and OCR processes are no longer necessary on the recipient side, as paper and PDF invoices are no longer required.Always up-to-date with SupplyOn InvoicingSupplyOn Invoicing has supported the classic Fapiao process for several years. This applies to both the paper-based and paperless versions. The new Fully Digitized eFapiao process is also supported by SupplyOn: All suppliers from the pilot regions in China can also use SupplyOn Invoicing to work with their customers in a tax-compliant manner.The advantage: Invoices are checked and validated in advance by SupplyOn against order or other demand data. If there are any errors or discrepancies, corrections can be made before the invoice is submitted to the tax authorities. Time-consuming cancellation or credit processes are a thing of the past. Suppliers can rest assured that invoices meet customer requirements and have been verified against country-specific requirements. In return, purchasing companies only receive invoices that have been validated in advance by SupplyOn Invoicing and match the purchase order or goods receipt. This allows for direct posting without any manual effort.As a first step to support the pilot phase of Fully Digitized eFapiao, SupplyOn has provided the pilot suppliers with the successfully validated invoices in a new download format. This format is accepted by the new central platform and can be directly uploaded.From now on, pilot suppliers can also use SupplyOn Invoicing to transfer the validated invoice data directly to a local, government-certified provider and thus to the central platform. A manual download is no longer necessary. We are also working on further simplifying the invoicing process for purchasing companies.Our customers can rest assured: By using SupplyOn Invoicing, they are always up to date with the latest developments in China, as we promptly implement all relevant Chinese government requirements in our solution.
Ludwig Jahrstorfer · November 14, 2023 - reading time < 6 Min.
Invoicing in China: how to successfully transform to Fully Digitized eFapiao

Digitizing Repair Orders: a game-changer for efficiency and customer satisfaction in the aerospace industry

In a dynamic industry like Aerospace and Defense, where precision and efficiency are paramount, every process counts. And one of these processes is the management of non-operational parts that cannot be installed in an aircraft or helicopter due to a need for revision, repair, overhaul, or the like — the so-called Repair Orders & Overhaul (R&O).Leonardo, a major aerospace, defense and security company, set out to fill the gaps to efficiently manage the specifics of this process, seamlessly integrated into a digital platform. But what really sets this endeavor apart is the idea of community. As part of the BoostAeroSpace community, Leonardo and another major aerospace OEM joined forces to transform the repair and overhaul ordering process for the benefit of the entire community as a pioneering co-leadership initiative.We sat down with Angela Marotta, Project Manager for AirSupply at Leonardo, to learn more about this extraordinary initiative and how Leonardo is benefiting from the new process:Repair Orders — a critical process in the aerospace industryAngela, could you please describe the role that repair orders play in Leonardo's business, how they have been managed in the past and what the limitations have been?The Repair and Overhaul process is a critical part of our strategic management and our customer services business, especially in our Helicopters and Aircraft divisions. We handle around 7,000 Repair Orders for Aircraft and 32,000 Repair Orders for Helicopters (for 1 year), involving about 600 suppliers. The process has four key steps: publishing, collaboration, acceptance, and execution of Purchase Orders (POs).While it all boils down to PO management, the first three steps have some unique characteristics when handling POs for R&O. These specifics were not fully covered by our previous solution. As a result, we had to manage some or all of these process steps outside of the portal.With a new and dedicated R&O process we wanted to increase the traceability of logistical movement of unserviceable parts, track negotiations, incorporate supplier quotations and enhance the status visibility of the R&O flow in general.It's fascinating to see the scope of the challenge, Angela. Why did Leonardo choose SupplyOn to address these issues?Our decision is in line with our company-wide strategy to use a single portal to collaborate with our suppliers on supply chain processes. And since 2017, this portal has been AirSupply by SupplyOn, the leading solution in the aerospace industry.Joint project for an industry-wide issueHow did this initiative to transform the management of Repair Orders become a joint project with another major aerospace OEM?When we selected in 2016 and implemented AirSupply to harmonize and advance our supplier collaboration on a group level, we also joined the BoostAeroSpace community in 2017. All community members are like-minded, innovative aerospace companies using this comprehensive, industry-specific supply chain solution.So, naturally, we discussed with both, SupplyOn and BoostAeroSpace, how we could extend AirSupply to support this process, both for our existing suppliers and for new ones coming on board. After all, the Repair and Overhaul process is a critical aspect of aerospace and defense. It follows the same rules for customers and suppliers across the industry. Customer support and service are paramount, and efficiency is essential for all.During these discussions last year, in 2022, another major aerospace OEM expressed great interest in transforming and integrating this process into AirSupply. We decided to work closely together on requirements, solution design, cost and testing. The very first co-leadership project among the BoostAeroSpace community members was born! Our common goal was to add value to the platform by implementing this key functionality for the aerospace and defense industry.For us at Leonardo, this project was a great opportunity to demonstrate our community and collaborative spirit: Internally, by aligning all of our business units around the request and identifying common requirements. And secondly, within the community, to verify how such a pioneering co-leadership initiative can become a great success. What are the essential elements required of a successful co-leadership project?Transparency in sharing information about common processes is key. But you also need an open-minded approach to solution design and a deep understanding of the impact of the process on all internal stakeholders. Last but not least, continuous collaboration with the procurement and customer support departments across all business units was critical to the success of the project.Project progress at LeonardoWhat is the current project status at Leonardo?The Repair and Overhaul Process solution has been released on AirSupply in April 2023 and is already up and running for the Helicopters Division since June 2023. We're currently working on the integration with backend of the Aircraft Division backend. This is set to be released in November 2023. The integration with the Electronic Division is then planned for 2024.Leonardo's onboarding policy is to enable all existing suppliers to use the new process and to take the opportunity to onboard new Repair Order suppliers.Can you tell us how this project has helped to address your initial issues, Angela?With the new Repair and Overhaul process, Leonardo aims to accelerate procurement time-to-market, ensure on-time payments, and improve cost efficiency in our Customer Services business. It aligns with our company's success drivers, which include digitalization, traceability, efficiency, standardization, and supplier collaboration. And what is next for this project, is there still work to be done?The solution released in April 2023 is only a first version. We have additional requirements planned for development in 2024. In the meantime, our goal is to expand the supplier perimeter and extend the solution to all Leonardo divisions.Community collaboration as driving force for innovationHow do you think you can influence your fellow community members to adopt this process in their organizations? What are your plans here?All BoostAerospace community members meet every year in a different location for a “Customer Day”. At last year’s Customer Day in Paris, we jointly presented our initiative together with the other participating aerospace OEM. During this presentation, we demonstrated how this solution enhances the AirSupply suite of functionalities.Technically speaking, we have implemented a set of enhancements that complement the existing Purchase Order process, allowing users to access dedicated screens to efficiently manage Repair Orders.This way of working has proven that new processes can be implemented efficiently while minimizing the risks of regression to the existing core process.Angela, looking back, how vital is collaboration in the community for a successful solution?Collaboration with the community and with SupplyOn is the key to success for Leonardo. The exchange of information, comments, and different perspectives ensured that we found an efficient and smart solution.Most importantly, this project has been a valuable lesson for the community in terms of working together on project management and addressing requirements in innovative ways. Are there additional points you would like to see the community tackle in the future?Yes, we'll be discussing additional requirements related to report management for the Repair and Overhaul process and to fine-tuning the solution for quote management. One last question, Angela: do you have any other plans for how you'd like to develop supply chain management at Leonardo that you can share with us?Absolutely. At Leonardo, we believe in sharing our needs with the community to further improve the platform. How to make it even more user-friendly and attractive for suppliers is an ongoing discussion, and we're eager to collaborate to achieve that. Thank you, Angela, so much for your valuable insights! Looking forward to seeing these plans come to fruition in the coming years. All the best to you and your projects.
Anja Weber · November 7, 2023 - reading time < 7 Min.
Digitizing Repair Orders: a game-changer for efficiency and customer satisfaction in the aerospace industry

The 5 building blocks to deliver the ROI of your digital transformation

In the dynamic business landscape, digital transformation has emerged as a game-changer. As organizations try hard to stay competitive and relevant, it's no longer a question of if but how and when they should embark on their digital transformation journey. However, achieving a return on investment (ROI) from these efforts is not a given; it requires a strategic approach. Here is a brief summary, after 14 years in the industry, of the five building blocks to consider when embarking on a digital transformation initiative to ensure and deliver the ROI you expect.1. The right scopeOne of the fundamental drivers of digital transformation ROI is defining the right scope. Without a clear understanding of what needs to be transformed and why, your efforts can become unfocused and wasteful. Start by identifying specific pain points, goals, and the expected outcomes. This will allow you to prioritize and allocate resources effectively, ensuring that your digital transformation initiatives align with your business objectives, and most importantly, it allows you to track where the ROI is coming from.2. When the decision is made: go all in!Digital transformation isn't just about embarking on the journey; it's about ensuring you reach the destination successfully. One critical driver of digital transformation ROI is completing the transformation and fully digitizing the processes.When a project remains incomplete or certain processes aren't fully digitized, companies often find themselves in a challenging situation. They end up managing both the old, legacy systems and the newly digitized processes simultaneously. This not only leads to operational inefficiencies, but also dilutes the potential ROI.To maximize your digital transformation ROI, it's crucial to ensure that the transformation journey is comprehensive and delivers on the defined scope. This will not only streamline operations, but also allow your organization to fully leverage the benefits of digital technology, ultimately delivering the desired return on investment.3. If you don’t get started, you’ll move backwards: pilots as a means to test, learn and capitalizeDigital transformation doesn't have to be an all-or-nothing endeavor. A successful approach often involves starting with pilot projects. These smaller initiatives provide a testing ground for new technologies and processes, allowing you to test your assumptions, learn, and capitalize, before scaling up. Pilots also demonstrate the benefits of digital transformation to stakeholders, building trust and buy-in across the entire organization.4. Change management: bringing new solutions into usageSuccessful digital transformation is as much about managing people as it is about implementing technology. Change management is a critical driver of ROI because it ensures that your workforce is equipped to adapt to the new digital environment. Effective communication, training, and support mechanisms help employees to make a smooth transition and become advocates for the change rather than resistors.5. Managing the change: bridging the old and the newWhile change management sets the stage, ongoing management of the change is essential and requires a delicate balancing act. Digital transformation is not a one-time event, but an ongoing process. It's not just about defining the new processes post-digitization, but also about handling the past activities that were managed with the old processes.This includes defining the new processes, managing the legacy processes/non-digital methods, continuously monitoring the transition, and ensuring that value is delivered, even after the digitization project is finished.By successfully managing the change and bridging the gap between old and new processes, your organization can make the most of its digital transformation efforts and achieve a higher ROI, even when dealing with legacy activities. This holistic approach ensures that no stone is left unturned on your journey toward a more efficient and digitally empowered future. In conclusion, delivering ROI through digital transformation is attainable, but it demands a strategic and comprehensive approach. It starts with defining the right scope, gaining full commitment, and initiating pilots to validate your efforts. Effective change management ensures that your workforce is aligned with the transformation, and ongoing management keeps your initiatives on the path to success. By embracing these five drivers, your organization can not only navigate the challenges of digital transformation but also reap the rewards of a more efficient, competitive, and innovative future.
Jorge Alvarado da Piedade · November 2, 2023 - reading time < 4 Min.
The 5 building blocks to deliver the ROI of your digital transformation

Ad hoc, dynamic — yet efficient: automating outbound transports

Transport bottlenecks, delivery delays, and volatile logistics costs have put more than just the inbound supply chain to the test in recent years. Outbound logistics faces the same challenges. But the solution has to be different. The actual outbound processes have their own specific characteristics. They typically run on different technical systems and are often less automated overall.But how can you handle outbound shipments efficiently and automatically? And are there potential benefits to managing inbound and outbound from a single system?Service parts: the challenge of ad-hoc transportationWhile inbound logistics is based on long-term planning, consolidation, and optimization, outbound logistics processes are much more dynamic. A classic example is the supply of spare or service parts: When a customer calls to report a broken machine, the replacement part needs to be shipped and arrive at the customer's facility as quickly as possible.Time pressure is high. The volumes to be transported are rather small. And the required master data is often missing from the ERP system. Ad-hoc shipments, varying materials, fluctuating quantities, different packaging, and constantly changing points of origin and destination make it difficult to automate processes. In addition, carriers and CEP service providers vary from shipment to shipment.As a result, logistics managers typically have to manually enter all the necessary data into multiple carrier portals to determine the most cost-effective transportation. A tedious and error-prone process!Shipment Data Entry mask: efficient support for ad-hoc shipmentsIn response, SupplyOn offers a Shipment Data Entry mask directly in the Transport Management System (TMS). This enables efficient digital processes even without a direct ERP connection or in cases where the master data for the transport order is not or only partially available in the ERP system.The integrated syntax completion function makes recording of ad hoc transport requirements quick and easy. Thanks to the master data stored in the TMS, information such as addresses, packaging or items can be dynamically retrieved via an intelligent search and automatically populated. In addition, users can enter master data directly into the TMS, for example via Excel uploads. The system also remembers routes and orders that have already been processed and suggests the relevant data for a recurring operation.Once entered, the information is sent to the carrier with a single click. This accelerates processes, eliminates sources of error, and saves resources — especially in situations where speed of response is critical.Digital and automated scheduling of regular outbound transportsHowever, the efficiencies that Shipment Entry brings also help to forward plan traditional outbound shipments. In the past, many plants sent their transport orders as PDF attachments via email to the carriers. The carriers in turn need to manually enter the data into their own systems. This can easily lead to errors. By using digital data transfer for shipment entry, these potential errors can be easily eliminated.The carrier to transport the shipment can either be determined by load building rules, or it can be predefined. The latter, known as forced carrier process, reduces the complexity of the transportation network and enables cost savings through economies of scale.Companies can also define load building packing instructions that are automatically used when creating the shipping notification or forwarder pick-up advice (FPA). The information from the FPA is then automatically incorporated into the label creation process. Label integration ensures that the transport labels to be printed meet all design and content requirements to ensure fast and smooth transport. Depending on the process, the TMS can also return the generated labels to the requesting system, such as the warehouse management system, or send them by email. Similarly, labels for the transport order can be requested directly from the carriers.Overall, outbound transport processes can be made much more digital, automated, and efficient. Companies benefit even if individual plants do not have an ERP connection to the TMS due to heterogeneous system landscapes. The same is true if the quantities to be loaded and the associated loads fluctuate greatly. All of these cases, in which automation was previously only possible to a limited extent or involved considerable additional manual effort when creating loads, are now covered by a single solution: master data as well as shipments can be created quickly and easily; individual orders can be entered easily. The system automatically recognizes recurring processes and accelerates them with its completion suggestions.All in all, this enables companies to digitize and automate their outbound transport processes and make them more efficient. Companies benefit even if individual plants lack an ERP connection to the TMS due to heterogeneous system environments. The same is true if there are strong fluctuations in the quantities to be loaded and in the associated loadings. All of these cases, in which automation was previously limited or required significant additional manual effort to create loads, are now covered by a single solution. It is a solution in which the creation of master data and the entry of individual orders is quick and easy. The system automatically recognizes recurring processes and accelerates them with its completion suggestions.Powerful combination: handling inbound and outbound in a single systemHowever, the greatest gains in efficiency are achieved when inbound and outbound shipments are handled in one system. This provides companies with an end-to-end logistics data chain, always with material references, from their own requirements to the goods receipt at the customer's premises.Moreover, you gain transparency at higher levels. This applies in particular to the volumes to be transported, regardless of the direction, whether outbound or inbound. This enables further economies of scale when selecting carriers.At the same time, organizational visibility is achieved when, as in many companies, different departments or individuals are responsible for inbound and outbound. By using a unified solution, internal optimization potential can be identified and processes improved accordingly.In addition, you can now identify opportunities to combine inbound and outbound transportation. For example, you could combine a plant-to-plant transport with a milk run or an inbound flow to save on additional routes. By overlapping inbound and outbound chains in this way, network planning can become much more intelligent and achieve highest levels of efficiency.Overall, you can monitor all aspects of transportation and carrier management in the TMS, evaluate them through analytics, exploit synergies, and continuously optimize processes and costs on both sides of the logistics chain.
Daniel Adelhardt · October 25, 2023 - reading time < 6 Min.
Ad hoc, dynamic — yet efficient: automating outbound transports

Product development: the why & how of supplier-initiated change requests

Feasibility studies play a crucial role in the automotive industry during the procurement process for parts under development. After all, even before these new parts are developed and contracted, companies need to ensure that they can be delivered in the required quality and quantity, on time and at appropriate conditions. SupplyOn Technical Review has been efficiently handling all of this for years. In most cases, the customer provides the specifications. But it can lead to even greater efficiency and project success if the suppliers can also initiate changes themselves.The classic Technical Review processTechnical verification is the process of verifying the quality, quantity, delivery dates, and conditions of a new part. For this purpose, the customer company requests information from the suppliers by means of a questionnaire. The customer then assesses the supplier's feasibility and maturity.Read more about Technical Review in this blog post.Change management: a new process for Technical ReviewAutomotive supplier ZF Friedrichshafen has been one of the main users of the Technical Review process since its inception. And because Technical Review has worked so well from the start, they wanted to see if Technical Review could be extended beyond the standard process.ZF project manager Alejandra Rangel Granados explains: "We often have a situation where a supplier needs to independently coordinate and approve necessary or desired changes to the product and process with us as the customer before the change is implemented. In this way, the supplier can be sure that ZF, as the customer, agrees to the change. "And it was no coincidence that SupplyOn already had a concept up its sleeve. There were already concepts on how Technical Reviews could also be initiated by the supplier. With a small expansion of the Technical Review, the time had come at the beginning of 2023: the improved process based on Technical Review was ready for ZF.How the supplier-driven Technical Review process for change requests worksAs a prerequisite for the supplier-driven process, the customer first creates a template. This template defines the type of changes, such as product information, that the supplier can send to the customer.The supplier can then use this template to send structured change requests and start the coordination process with the customer. After receiving the request, the customer may need to coordinate further details with the supplier and check the feasibility of the change. The result is immediately displayed to the supplier in Technical Review and sent as an email notification.Advantages of the optimized processZF project manager Alejandra Rangel Granados: "The ZF Commercial Vehicle Solutions division has been using the new process with its suppliers since mid-January 2023. Previously, change requests for parts and processes were made via unstructured e-mail communication, which was difficult to track. Thanks to SupplyOn, we can now offer a fully electronic, easily traceable and data-secure process. In addition, we are now much better informed before the supplier makes any changes."Suppliers also benefit from the new process. They now receive timely feedback on important change requests. Emails from the supplier are no longer lost because the change is stored transparently and securely at SupplyOn.Meanwhile, SupplyOn is already making plans for the next expansion stages of Technical Review. Product Manager Martin Weber comments: "We are sure that we will be able to implement further use cases based on Technical Review quickly and easily." So, it remains to be seen what the future holds for the all-rounder Technical Review — in any case, the end of the line does not seem to have been reached yet.
Wolfgang Schmetterer · May 15, 2023 - reading time < 4 Min.
Product development: the why & how of supplier-initiated change requests

Digital twin: are you ready for new business models?

A digital twin is defined as the digital image of a product or process. It supports process optimization, early error detection, and automation gains along the entire value chain. New, service-oriented business models can be created based on the digital twin. However, the German economy is still having a hard time with digitization and an even harder time with digital twins."A large proportion of companies are using digital technologies to secure their competitiveness, but not to develop new business models, for example in the form of digital, portfolio-complementing value-added services," says Michael Finkler, VDMA Board Member for Software and Digitalization, in a recent article for Industry of Things (article in German).Digital twin — already a realityAdmittedly, digital twins are not yet at the forefront of many conversations and processes at customers and suppliers to create new value-added products and services. Nevertheless, SupplyOn has been working on this in the background for some time. For each material number, for example, all available data — even at serial number level — is combined and made available. This makes it possible, for example, to automate goods receipt or to provide quality data electronically. SupplyOn supports various initiatives in this regard, such as Industry 4.0, Asset Administration Shell (AAS) or Catena-X standardization.Hence, the foundation is laid for companies to develop their own value-added services or secure competitive advantages based on a digital twin. Now it's time to get active and creative!
Christian Kastl · April 25, 2023 - reading time < 2 Min.
Digital twin: are you ready for new business models?

Are you ready for Invoice Clearance in France?

In recent years, an increasing number of countries have introduced so-called invoice clearance procedures. Before electronic invoices can be sent to the recipient, they must be checked and approved by a central government agency. The primary concern is the correct reporting of tax data. These clearance models are usually referred to as Continuous Transaction Controls (CTCs) because the verification takes place in near real-time.  CTCs aim to reduce the VAT gap. Governments use this term to describe the loss of tax revenue due to missing or incorrectly reported tax data.The first countries to implement such models are in Latin America. They are already discussing extensions such as the reporting of incoming payments or certain tax benefits. The EU is also considering CTC. Just at the end of last year, an important package of measures entitled "VAT in the Digital Age", or VIDA for short, was adopted. This creates a framework for how tax reporting for companies in the EU should look in the future.Companies in France will have to be "clearance-ready" by 2026In France, a CTC model for B2G (business to government) transactions has been in place for several years. Invoices to public institutions must be sent to a central government portal called "Chorus Pro". In future, this procedure will be gradually extended to B2B (business to business) transactions.In addition to the e-invoicing obligation, there is also an e-reporting obligation. This applies primarily to cross-border invoicing and relates to invoices that are not already covered by the national clearance procedure, for example, invoices from other European countries. Their tax data must also be reported to the French tax authorities.Regarding the planned timeline and introduction of the French Invoice Clearance procedure, a delay was communicated in summer 2023. A mandatory introduction was planned originally in stages starting in July 2024. French companies mentioned in several consultations with the authorities that more time is needed to prepare their processes and systems. This, however, is not the only reason. From the tax authority's side, the completion of the central government portal PPF (Portail Public de Facturation) also requires more time. The launch date of July 2024 faced pressure in summer as a result.Due to these reasons, the French Ministry of Finance has decided to postpone the introduction of the B2B Invoice Clearance procedure. In a recent meeting, the national tax authority provided some details on the postponement. As the formal dates have yet to be determined, the rough timeline was presented as part of a three-phase rollout:2024: In spring 2024, the French authorities will publish a list of officially registered PDP (Plateforme de Dématérialisation Partenaire) providers. In the second half of the year, the central government portal PPF (Portail Public de Facturation) will be completed.2025: During this year, France will implement a large-scale pilot program that will run for the entire year 2025. Companies of all sizes as well as provider companies can participate in this project. The pilot phase is intended to enable companies and software providers to test their systems and processes in order to prepare as well as possible for the launch of the clearance model.2026: In 2026, the Invoice Clearance procedure will be introduced and become mandatory for companies. The exact phased introduction will become clear at the end of 2023, when the planned finance law is passed by the French parliament.What does the French clearance model look like?Before the introduction, France evaluated and compared different CTC models from other countries. It chose a decentralized approach that gives maximum flexibility to market players. The invoice sender or recipient has two options here: Either they send the invoices directly to the central government portal PPF (Portail Public de Facturation, an evolution of the "Chorus Pro" portal already used for B2G). Or they work with certified providers called PDP (Plateforme de Dématérialisation Partenaire). The PDP receive the invoices, report the tax data to the central PPF platform and forward the invoice to the recipient.Each French company is free to choose whether to work with a PDP or to connect directly to the central PPF platform. In addition to the PDP, there will be another type of provider, the so-called OD (Opérateur de Dématérialisation). Only PDP are allowed to send invoices directly from a supplier to a customer and report tax data to the central PPF platform.Furthermore, providers specializing in purchase-to-pay processes offer additional advantages, such as matching an invoice against specific "requirement data" such as the purchase order or advance shipping notice. This can ensure that only invoices that have undergone successful upstream validation enter the clearance process. Lengthy and cumbersome cancellation processes can thus be avoided.In addition to transmitting invoice data and tax messages, suppliers in France must support a standardized status model. The so-called "lifecycle status" of an invoice can go through several phases. The following statuses are mandatory and must be supported by all parties: "Submitted", "Refused ", "Rejected" and "Payment Received".Decentralized clearance model in France:How does SupplyOn support the new French clearance model?SupplyOn Invoicing already covers the French invoicing requirements. SupplyOn also offers a solution for the new French clearing procedure. The development team is already working on an extension for Invoicing to support the new French CTC procedure. This solution extension will be available in time when the pilot phase starts in 2025 for SupplyOn's customers to prepare. During solution design, SupplyOn works closely with government agencies and consulting firms to ensure that all requirements are directly incorporated into the product.SupplyOn Invoicing enables suppliers to check invoices against various quality criteria before sending them. This can be a check against a purchase order (PO) or against customer-specific specifications. In this way, suppliers can be sure that their invoices will be accepted by the customer and paid promptly. Time-consuming correction processes are eliminated. In case of discrepancies, suppliers can work directly with their customers to find a solution.For customers, SupplyOn Invoicing is an upstream quality gate that checks invoices in advance and ensures a consistently high level of quality. This leads to an almost completely automated invoice receipt process. The planned solution expansion for France thus ensures that SupplyOn customers continue to enjoy all the benefits of Invoicing and can use the service as usual.The latest communicated postponement puts all sub-services and providers in a position to be prepared for the rollout, provided they take advantage of the additional time. In particular, the pilot program planned for 2025 gives all stakeholders the opportunity to test their processes and systems and gain confidence with the new system. Large companies, which are first in line to implement the CTC process, should view the postponement only as a six-month delay and consider the start of the pilot program in early 2025 as a de facto launch date.SupplyOn intends to monitor further developments closely. The time gained enables SupplyOn to work together with customers on preparing the systems.
Ludwig Jahrstorfer · March 23, 2023 - reading time < 6 Min.
Are you ready for Invoice Clearance in France?

Turning supply chain transformation needs into a reality

How do you achieve a resilient supply chain with transparency, visibility, and sustainability in 2023? Focus on these four areas:CollaborationActual two-way collaboration is necessary to achieve supply chain resiliency. Instead of chasing down parts, real-time updates and feedback all in one place are needed to make the best decisions. In order to achieve this, accurate data and the right tools are imperative for this process to create a holistic environment for both your organization and supply chain for ultimate success together. DataTo create more effective and efficient supply chain management we need data. Everyone wants data and has it in some form. Unfortunately, what is referred to as a "data lake" is often more like a bunch of random muddy puddles in a field after a huge rainstorm; not clear, not connected, unknown depths, and is generally very messy. So how do you collect it and connect it to analyze it efficiently? With digital tools.ToolsFor accurate data, visibility, resiliency, and sustainability, ultimately, you need the right tools. Organizations everywhere realize and understand that more tools are required to level up a system, replace a system, or bridge the gaps with existing systems. With the right tools, data can be collected and organized in an easy-to-use platform with dashboards and reports at your fingertips to continually monitor, collaborate and analyze your data. True PartnershipManufacturers everywhere have a lot at stake. However, going away is the "do it or else" attitude regarding supply chain. Instead, it is being replaced with holistic, collaborative, and honest relationships with key suppliers and competitors. In 2022, I heard more and more, "how can we work together to get this done?" Wordsmithing mashups with competitor + partnership + friendship are coming into play like 'friendtitor,' 'partnitor,' and 'competiship.' Right now I am loving this more open-minded approach to chaining business processes and practices. I'm excited to be a part of this ecosystem and change for the future. 
Cathy Sue Carpenter · February 1, 2023 - reading time < 2 Min.
Turning supply chain transformation needs into a reality

2022 supply chain recap – expert ramblings from “boots on the ground” experiences

It's always important to take a look back before moving forward. Doing this keeps us from that brain fog thing of wondering why we walked into the kitchen for the third time in a row and still forget to turn off the oven. In 2022 there was a lot, and even though 2020 and 2021 seemed like they morphed together to make one extra-long, exceptionally insane, and challenging year, 2022 felt like an extension of that in many ways. I'd liken it to a roller-coaster (and I mean the kind of broken down, roller-coaster at an abandoned amusement park with monsters chasing it, ala Scooby Doo) with the non-stop events, war, more covid and health issues, insane weather, strikes, raw material shortages, price jumps and still fearful of those murder hornets. Before Covid, when a random person would ask what I did for a living, and I said supply chain software for automotive, aerospace, and complex manufacturing, I'd immediately see their eyes glaze over and then dart around looking for a quick exit. Supply chain sounded boring or too complex, and even more, the software for it. "Kind of a specialty," I'd remark and smile to myself, as the average person had no idea just what pressure went into the day of a buyer or supplier in supply chain. Supply chains take center stageThen Covid hit, and supply chain was now a household term. Suddenly, I felt like I was in that 1979 EF Hutton TV commercial, except for the supply chain. People actually wanted to listen about supply chain software. In fact, I'd find myself engaged in long conversations about supply chain matters and essentially saving the world. Even my kids were talking about it. Especially when I'd come home from grocery shopping and I'd turn up with their favorite food or snack requests missing from the grocery store run. Topics would range from worker shortages, safety, illness, raw materials, strikes, printed packaging, inks, crops, and transportation, to name a few. I'd explain what I already knew and then try to figure out what exactly was going on.As a dabbler in creative writing, I couldn't even make some of this stuff up. It was sometimes perplexing why some things just went missing for months and not others. But we muddled through like everyone else; people and companies got creative and resourceful. It was impressive to watch it unfold. By the end of 2022, even with all the chaos, things started to feel normal-ish again, and the world opened up further. Companies needed solutions, and my calendar was booked up for introductions and demos. Supply chain was up front and center now. By fall, I was also able to attend quite a few sold-out industry conferences as well. Speakers, experts, and attendees clamored; we had all been cooped up for way too long and needed desperately to connect the way we used to. We had a thirst for more knowledge about the state of supply chains and thoughts on the future. The vibes were much more different; it was high energy, focused, with a scent of desperation for real change. From meetings with prospective customers, customers, and industry conferences, what was once a mere "pie in the sky" wish of real supply chain collaboration was now, even more, a much-needed reality. We needed to propel supply chain management into the future, not just to be efficient and manageable but to sustain the lives of companies.2022 needs recapResiliency"Resiliency" is a term that has been tossed around before the pandemic, but in 2022 I found it to be the theme of the year when it comes to supply chain. However, resiliency doesn't necessarily mean the same thing for everyone. The list goes on: strong supply chain, access to inventory, reduced costs, backup suppliers, and insight into trends, issues, and challenges. So, what does it mean to have a "resilient supply chain" to you? TransparencyEven before the global pandemic, supply chains were volatile. In the complex manufacturing world, buyers/planners would forecast and put their orders into suppliers around the globe, and suppliers would accept them. For automotive and aerospace, that could be a year-plus lead time or even longer. Until the promise date arrives and there are no parts, or perhaps if an advance ship notification (ASN) is generated, there is literally no status on the supplies that are ordered. When a part is missing or late, chaos ensues, right? Things like production shutdown can occur, late orders, and essentially, ultimately, affect the bottom line. VisibilityOne of the biggest things I heard over and over again at conferences and from prospects was having greater "visibility" into their supply chains all the way to tier N. The statement, "we don't know who our suppliers are, " became a constant concern. Of course, the goal is to plan better, and especially OEMs and top-tier suppliers want the ability to know things even before their suppliers do in order to plan better and make informed proactive decisions. SustainabilityI remember when sustainability was the buzzword back in the 90s. I worked on quite a few sustainability statements for customers. Everyone seemed to have a goal about sustainability by the year 2020. That came and went, and the global pandemic made us go backward on this initiative, more disposable everything, personal protective eqipment (PPE), shortages, expedited orders, and transit. After all this, we are trying to get back on course to reduce our carbon footprint while being profitable. Stay tuned for more tips, tricks, ideas, and ramblings.
Cathy Sue Carpenter · January 13, 2023 - reading time < 5 Min.
2022 supply chain recap – expert ramblings from “boots on the ground” experiences