Businesses across the globe are feeling the effects of increases in labor, energy and transport costs, all of which have fueled inflation. According to a survey reported in SupplyChainDive, close to 90% of companies claim to be dealing with “extraordinary cost increases because of supply constraints,” with more than 60% of them predicting the trend will persist into Q4 of 2022.
Companies are shifting their focus from supply chain efficiency to supply chain resilience—meaning they are economizing costs in order to survive the disruptions to the supply chain as costs continue to rise, as reported by global research institute IMD. According to their article, the ability for companies to lower supply chain costs and localize their supply chains can only help ease some of the issues of overseas supply chain delays.
Creating Cost-Savings Through Modernization
The consumer sector is very comfortable with cloud-based mobility—they can make transactions, communicate, work and play on their mobile devices. But the fluidity of cloud-based applications has not yet made the leap to manufacturing and warehousing environments. The software used in many warehouses are often not nearly as modern as consumer applications. Yet, these businesses need to respond quickly to inventory requests, especially with the rise of e-commerce, where shoppers are used to instantly selecting merchandise for quick delivery.
Many asset-heavy industries—manufacturing, retail, logistics, automotive, energy, utilities, mining, and oil and gas—are still functioning with premises-based and desk-bound management applications. Those applications were typically built years ago and have no mobile capabilities, which ties their data entry to specific workstations. This results in limited and delayed visibility of that data throughout their organizations. It makes it difficult for employees to share, input or update information on inventory, materials and purchasing.
What’s worse, some companies are still using paper-based processes or Excel charts, in addition to software programs that are years if not decades old. These antiquated processes are extra time-consuming and tend to be vulnerable to human error compared to digitized processes. They sometimes require workers to transport paperwork from one end of a warehouse floor to another, which, in industrial settings, can pose a safety hazard. Not to mention, such manual processes are often not environmentally friendly. In these cases, the ability to digitally transform business processes can bring a considerable productivity boost to businesses, speeding up workflows, increasing mobility and improving data visibility across the organization.
Yet, how do companies modernize quickly and cost-effectively? Traditional programming methods can be laborious and disruptive, and integration projects can sometimes go on for months or years. It can also be extremely expensive and risky, which lowers ROI.
Modernization of business processes can be daunting for larger enterprises, especially those with complex legacy IT environments using ERP (enterprise resource planning) solutions. These systems have typically incurred tons of customization, patches and upgrades. Low-code platforms allow asset-heavy enterprises to create modernized business applications in a quick and cost-effective manner. It simplifies the digitization of business processes, making those applications mobile and more efficient.
IT managers can think of low-code integration as a shortcut that automates the more basic tasks of modernization, freeing-up their highly skilled (and often highly paid) developers to focus on more complicated design tasks. Business owners should look for low-code solutions that maximize those developer resources, allowing IT departments to modernize in less time and with less personnel. In fact, an advanced low-code solution can modernize business processes up to 20 times faster than traditional development processes.
Notable operational and cost-efficiencies will result when inventory, materials, warehouse and procurement processes are transformed into streamlined, cloud-based, mobile applications that workers can access from anywhere in the company or on a mobile device in the field.
Furthermore, some of these low-code platforms provide businesses with pre-built solutions that are based on industry best practices.
Alleviating The Developer Shortage
This low-code approach also helps address the enduring shortage of skilled developers, which has been a problem for IT managers long before the “Great Resignation.” In the current market, many companies that are seeking to modernize simply can’t hire enough developers to do the job. In fact, one of our clients confided that they’re in the lurch for nearly 30 developers, with little hope to fill all those positions during the current crisis.
Low-code and no-code platforms turn development into a simpler, drag-and-drop process requiring very little or no programming. Alternatively, business owners can look for a third-party provider to create customized business applications for them using a low-code platform. Either way, low code can help ease the constraints of the developer shortage.
In selecting a partner to help facilitate low-code integration, however, make sure their solution is able to maintain all the inherent company knowledge of your existing business. This will contribute significantly to the cost and time savings of the modernization effort, since that “tribal knowledge” won’t have to be re-programmed into the system from scratch, but rather it is mined and converted.
We all look forward to a normalization of the supply chain, but it may not happen right away. In the meantime, with some savvy research on the right low-code tools, businesses can speed up the modernization process, generating savings to help ease their financial strain.