You’ve probably heard it over and over again: when looking for a solution, don’t stare at the problem. Why? That’s because, as a recent Forbes author noted, focusing on defining the problem can limit the creativity of your solutions. Analytical problem-defining is a fundamentally different brain activity than creative problem-solving.
How does this translate to the orthopedic medical device industry? While every industry confronts business challenges, ours wrestles with widespread system fragmentation. Manufacturers and distributors grapple with key functions like inventory management, sales operations, and financial control using tools that don’t integrate with each other. Frustrated reps and sales ops teams employ Excel, whiteboards, scrap paper, email, texts, Slack and IM, phone calls, and a lot of personal coordination in a scramble cycle that’s repeated each day. Amid numerous small problems, one system-wide problem emerges: the creation of serious and persistent blind spots that imperil a business in several key ways.
These blind spots are entrenched in inventory management, compromising visibility. They’re in sales operations, confounding the way the team works to get product where it needs to go. They’re in the supply chain, causing inefficiency instead of creating a digitally connected and highly efficient flow from component to patient.
Facing these specific problems, it’s easy to be convinced that specific solutions will help. But that path focuses on the problem, not the solution—and it will limit the effectiveness of those solutions. Ultimately, system fragmentation puts your decision-making in jeopardy, which is what escalates your business risk. Let’s take a closer look at three ways that system fragmentation is compromising your business.
Does this sound familiar? One of your reps receives an order, so he inputs the details into Salesforce. In many scenarios, the data needs to then make the jump to another system, like QuickBooks, an ERP, Excel, and to a reporting system like Business Objects, Tableau, or Cognos. In addition, sales operations staff might be using other means of tracking what’s needed when and where, like with paper or whiteboards or texts. Even if yours is the best team on the planet, it’s still vulnerable to human error. One transposed number or one overwritten field is all it takes for chaos to make its way down the chain between product and customer.
How much time do your sales ops and reps burn wrangling inventory? How much personal coordination does it take to solve today and tomorrow’s supply/demand puzzle? Data’s jump from system to system creates delays in processing and analyzing. It also means that your data always lags behind what is actually happening, so you don’t have real-time visibility into your inventory or the ability to match supply and demand for case coverage, for example. These very real, very serious blind spots cost you sales and opportunity and increase your operational costs. For these reasons, they limit your ability to grow.
Is everyone on the team able to access a single source of truth? If the answer is “no,” then there’s a real opportunity to improve decision-making with better-quality data. That’s because human error and temporal lag have serious effects on the fidelity of your data. In fact, the fidelity of your data is damaged at each jump from system to system. And when you’re using data as the basis of your decision-making, that data needs to be of the highest caliber possible.
As the business focus on data has increased over the last decade, and as software has evolved, point-specific solutions have emerged. These tools may bring some relief, but their specificity doesn’t holistically address the real challenge of system fragmentation.
Eliminating data’s jump from system to system does. When data enters one system and remains in it for the entire chain from manufacturer to patient, a digitally connected supply chain becomes possible. Blind spots across the critical functions of inventory, sales operations, and finance are eliminated. This whole-system approach gives you real-time control and visibility that transforms how your teams work, serves as a single source of truth, and can drive growth that was previously unattainable.
At ImplantBase, we’re a leader in digital transformation for the orthopedic implant industry. Our platform provides manufacturers of every size with a unique cloud-based solution that transforms how the business operates on every level and across your critical functions of finance, sales, and operations. That means bringing automation—and revolution—to scores of mission-critical business processes—including your distributor logistics—so that your team can stop flailing in chaos and start driving improved performance.
If you’re ready to embrace the future, ImplantBase can help. Give us 30 minutes to assess your performance and help you determine a roadmap to digital transformation—and you’ll see how our holistic approach can change the way you work for the better.