You simply can’t escape it. Gas prices are soaring and with summer driving season just around the corner, fuel industry economists are saying it’s only going to get worse. The national average price of gasoline rose 14% in the first 3 months of 2011 alone, and has increased 21% over the last year. Five states have already passed the $4 per gallon mark for regular unleaded, and just this past week New York and Washington DC joined the list.
Fuel is the one commodity that directly affects the price of everything in the marketplace due to the global supply chain and its reliance on gasoline. Your cup of coffee this morning started as coffee beans growing on a tree in Colombia. Those beans were transported into the USA and eventually made their way to the Starbucks where you bought your coffee. At some point every physical product moves from a seller to a buyer, and as a result there is no business immune to the effects of gas price increases.
Supply chain managers understand this concept all too well. When your business is moving goods through the supply chain, fuel costs directly impact the bottom line. Your suppliers are driving up their costs to provide the raw materials your company needs to manufacture your product. On the other end of the chain your customers are purchasing from you at a set price. As a supply chain manager you are stuck in the middle. You could shop around for new suppliers or raise your customer’s prices, but either way you risk alienating an important partner in your business.
What is a supply chain manager to do? No matter if your business is steel manufacturing, fertilizer production, fleet management or food grower you must consider every opportunity to reduce costs in these difficult economic times. Online document management and workflow processes present these very opportunities.
Consider your vendor relationships. Supplier related transactions start with a purchasing contract. Contracts can undergo many revisions before they are finalized with a signature. Are you still sending contract drafts back and forth by e-mail? Even worse, are you paying a courier service (such as FedEx) to move your important documents around, especially if these documents are moving internally within your company? FedEx admits on their website they charge an 11% fuel surcharge on every shipment. Yes, even for document pouches!
Online document management streamlines your contract approval process. Automatically route contract requests to the correct people in your organization and attach supporting documents to the contract. Version control allows for quick reference to any previous version of these contracts, and all data is stored and protected within Tier IV infrastructure.
Once the contract details are agreed upon, the contract still requires signatures from both parties. Electronic Signature, integrated with workflow automation, allows for the reviewers and approvers to be alerted as the documents hit a certain stage in the business process. The documents can be accessed from anywhere with an Internet connection, reviewed and electronically signed. No more lost time and wasted money waiting for a courier pouch to arrive for a signature or worse yet, realizing that edits need to be made, the paper document is marked up and over-nighted back for the contract staff to aggregate and incorporate more edits; causing even further delays. When done electronically, the contracts can be edited easily, automatically maintaining all versions in one location and providing a seamless business process. Another important benefit of electronic signature is the ability to meet legal compliance standards, reducing the risk and minimizing costs of an audit or legal investigation.
Increased fuel prices translate directly into higher costs across the board in order to conduct your everyday business. Transitioning your business toward online document management, or also known as enterprise content management, takes a chunk out of supply chain related costs, and does so without adding any expenses for IT resources or infrastructure.
If you are interested in learning how your company can realize immediate cost savings through online document management, please click here for your free 14 day trial.