Mastering Supply Chain D365 and the Art of Inventory Visibility

Mastering Supply Chain Dynamics 365 and the Art of Inventory Visibility

Introduction

Real-time inventory visibility is crucial for contemporary businesses. It offers immediate, precise data on stock levels across diverse locations, avoiding stock shortages. This results in enhanced customer satisfaction, diminished costs, and improved decision-making. It enables businesses to swiftly react to demand fluctuations, optimise supply chain operations, and ensures all stakeholders are working with the most up-to-date information. In the era of e-commerce and omnichannel retailing, real-time inventory visibility is a necessity for competitiveness and fulfilling customer expectations.

The Rise of Inventory Visibility

Gone are the days of manual inventory tracking and the guesswork that often accompanied it. Today, businesses are embracing advanced technologies like RFID, IoT, and AI to gain real-time insights into their inventory. Inventory Visibility is the driving force behind supply chain optimization, providing a comprehensive view of stock levels, location, and movement across the entire supply chain network.

Key Advantages of Inventory Visibility

Power Platform Integration

We can leverage the common data services (CDS) and data verse to develop applications on power platforms and expose the data from ERP to develop applications.
The advantage of using Inventory visibility is that it can call and display data outside D365 Supply chain module using API requests, there are preloaded queries that are already present which can be used to filter the data. Businesses can use this feature to create reports and analyse them to find their best-selling items and to find out trends in the marketplace.

Improved Inventory Updates

Real time inventory visibility on different platforms such as field service app, customer engagement and intelligent order management and mobile devices. A sales representative would want to access the inventory stock in their fingertip instead of logging into the ERP traditional on hand inquiry which is time consuming. It can be implemented for E- Commerce platforms or retail channels to show the inventory visibility for the stocks and help the business plan the delivery timelines. For example, data from the ERP system is pushed initially to the Inventory Visibility that is displayed on a website for customer to browse through but there are a few updates done to the on hand in D365 and are needed to be displayed on the website for the customers. A background batch is run every 1 minute to make sure the data available in on hand is available in Inventory Visibility. Changes can be done to the batch job start time based on the business needs.

Allocation

Businesses often have items that they want to keep separate for their VIP customers. To achieve that Inventory Allocation can be used to meet the customer demands. Inventory allocation provides ring protection that businesses can use to reserve their stock for specific allocations which cannot be affected by order for other allocations. Businesses can also use this feature if there is a disruption in the supply due to any circumstances that might cause a block in the supply.

Soft Reservation

Another challenge businesses can face is overselling because inventory adjustment typically is done periodically. Without a fast update mechanism, it can trigger overselling. As a consequence of overselling, delay in order delivery will occur and customer satisfaction will be effected and also to give customers satisfaction with their order businesses then pay extra to quickly replenish their stock. This can be avoided if the changes done to the inventory is close to real time. To achieve close to real time, update Soft Reservation can be used. This feature allows businesses to take orders without the risk of over selling.
For Example, when an order is placed on the business website which then sends a request through an API to reserve the quantity to inventory visibility. It then calculates if item quantity is available in stock to complete the order. Upon successful calculation a soft reservation ID is created. Which can be used to update the inventory level in the ERP system later.

Real-time Inventory Tracking Across Multiple Data Sources

While the traditional inventory management system in D365 allows you to manage and track inventory within the system, the Inventory Visibility Add-in takes it a step further. It extends this capability to multiple data sources and channels, enabling you to track inventory status in real-time across all your warehouses, locations, and even third-party logistics data sources like other ERP systems, POS systems, and warehouse management systems. That is how Inventory Visibility remains the single source of truth because of it’s fast paced updates close to real-time.

Scalability

In Inventory Visibility Add-In data and API (queries) are handled separately for increased performance. Following are the two types of partitions:

  1. Web API. (queries)
  2. In memory cache (Data Storage)
Data stored in Cache Partitions is further divided into instances partitions in Inventory Visibility Add-In. Businesses websites can have better visibility of their stock by using this feature for better load balancing which will increase their website performance. Multiple queries are processed in parallel, currently API calls are grouped together by Warehouse, in future functionality to group queries by Products ID etc will be added. This will give quick results for queries and increase customer satisfaction. Depending on the business needs more partitions can be added to handle more data.

Table Comparison

Feature Inventory Visibility Add-in Traditional Inventory Management System
Real-time inventory tracking across multiple data sources Yes No
Soft reservation Low Latency High Latency
Extensibility and integration Highly extensible Primarily designed to work within the Microsoft ecosystem
Scalability Designed to handle large volumes of data Not explicitly mentioned

Cost saving benefits

Businesses that have a valid Supply Chain and Management license can use Inventory Visibility Add-In without any additional Cost. However, because this based on Microsoft Power Platform the data storage and API limits apply but it can be increased at additional cost.

Future Trends in Inventory Visibility

Blockchain Integration

The use of blockchain technology is gaining traction in supply chain management. It provides an immutable and transparent record of transactions, ensuring the integrity and traceability of inventory data across the supply chain.

Advanced Analytics and AI

As technology continues to advance, so does the capability to leverage data analytics and artificial intelligence. Predictive analytics can be used to forecast demand more accurately, while AI-driven algorithms can optimize inventory levels dynamically.

Collaborative Platforms

Supply chain visibility is not limited to individual organizations. Collaborative platforms that connect various stakeholders in the supply chain ecosystem are emerging. These platforms facilitate real-time communication, collaboration, and visibility among suppliers, manufacturers, distributors, and retailers.

Conclusion

Inventory Visibility is not just a trend; it’s a fundamental shift in the way businesses manage their supply chains. Microsoft D365, with its advanced features and seamless integration capabilities, plays a crucial role in helping businesses achieve and maintain this visibility. By embracing technology and leveraging the power of D365, organizations can pave the way for a more responsive, efficient, and resilient supply chain. So, gear up, stay visible, and let Inventory Visibility be your guiding star in the journey towards a more efficient and responsive supply chain.

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