Nicole and Scott, NSF

Leveraging Cloud-Based Technology in Supply Chain Management

By Nicole Keresztes James, Scott Arnald
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Nicole and Scott, NSF

Regulatory changes, complex supply chains and risks of food fraud present challenges to food companies globally. Each player in the food supply chain, from manufacturers to retailers and restaurants, can benefit from cloud-based digital solutions that adhere to international security management standards. These programs encourage collaboration, prioritize safety and provide cost-effective, secure data organization across sectors, while allowing businesses to select the digital solution services that best align with their needs.

In today’s fiercely competitive food and beverage industry, managing tight margins and shifting consumer preferences present major challenges. Add to this the growing incidences of food fraud, increased regulations—including the FSMA Final Food Traceability Standard—and complex supply chains and keeping an eye on the big picture becomes an almost impossible task. From primary producers to manufacturers, retailers and restaurants, companies are seeking ways to innovate and modernize their supply chains while strengthening food safety and quality, adhere to mandatory regulations and audits, and reduce operational costs. Embracing cloud-based technologies and digital solutions can help businesses adapt to new challenges and regulations, while increasing profits and growth.

Going Digital with Supplier Requirements

The FDA’s Food Traceability Final Rule, set to be enforced by 2026, highlights the urgency for industry to streamline its practices and establish digital solutions that collect and quickly provide information in the event of a recall. Supplier and compliance management digital solutions reduce administrative overhead with proactive supplier management. They direct suppliers to use an online portal to register, upload documents, complete questionnaires and communicate with businesses. By implementing these digital solutions, suppliers can also gain access to intelligent compliance engines that detect potential issues by comparing supplier information against company requirements. This data can be used to assess risks and analyze trends and performance of suppliers so businesses can prioritize continuous improvements, allocate resources to the appropriate sectors and make data-driven decisions. Digital solution’s counterpart—manually collecting and analyzing supplier data—poses greater risks for human error and potentially costly operational setbacks.

Additionally, supplier portals aid in supplier-business collaboration and allow for improved communication and consistency among assessors. They also provide access to historical documents and information. Companies transitioning to more sophisticated digital supplier management tools will likely notice a reduction in data errors and misinterpretation of requirements, ensuring the reliability of the information being recorded.

Cloud-Based Quality and Compliance

Cloud-based solutions that offer multiple modules, such as Supplier & Compliance Management, Product Specification and Artwork Management, Issue Management, and Audit Management, can aggregate multiple supply chain processes into a single platform. These solutions are versatile, cost-effective and can adapt to many kinds of businesses in our industry; companies simply choose which module offerings fit their business needs and then have the option to add additional modules when applicable.

Cloud-based solutions also expedite data, documents and records collection in real-time during audits and assessments, allowing for effortless delivery when program documentation is requested or required. With live synchronization of information, including statistical process control data and critical food safety data, cloud-based technologies enable results to be shared among users both onsite and around the globe. They also provide users with a collation of assessment results and corrective action responses vital to the decision-making and review processes.

Protecting Supplier and Client Data

The escalating threat of data breaches—Malwarebytes reported a 607% increase in cyberattacks on food and agriculture companies in 2020—underscores the need for stringent security measures. Therefore, it is crucial that companies choose software tools from a provider that ensures built-in information protection with encryption to maintain cybersecurity and confidence in daily supply chain operations. Looking for digital solutions that adhere to international security management standard ISO/IEC 27001 is a good starting point. Platforms with this high-security certification provide assurance against data loss and offer firewalls and virus and malware protection.

Safeguarding in Today’s Environment

As our industry adapts to new regulations, technology innovations and supply chain risks, we must protect every facet of operations, from food fraud prevention to cybersecurity, with the collective goal of protecting consumers. Utilizing leading digital solutions and technologies, including cloud-based resources, simplifies historically complicated supply chain processes and reduces the risk of errors in supplier management.

While traditional software includes the potential risk of data and security breaches, our industry is safeguarded with leading technologies that are compliant with ISO-IEC 27001 information security management standards, ensuring sensitive information remains protected, and our complex supply chain endures.

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Nicole Keresztes James

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Scott Arnald

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