By Mads Toubro, senior vice president EMEA at Precisely
Over a year on since Britain’s departure from the EU, Brexit disruption is still wreaking havoc on UK businesses. Exacerbated by the COVID-19 pandemic, businesses are facing huge financial losses and other challenges with more checks on products, increased paperwork and mounting delays.
Indeed, a survey of 981 businesses carried out by the British Chambers of Commerce (BCC) at the end of 2021 has revealed the continued impact of the UK-EU trade deal (TCA) on UK firms a year after its implementation. When questioned about how easy or difficult it has been for businesses and supply chains to adapt, 45 percent reported that it was very or relatively difficult to buy or sell goods, compared to 30 percent in January 2021. UK exporters were also more likely to report difficulties compared to other firms – when it comes to buying and selling goods, 60 percent faced difficulties; when buying and selling services, 30 percent; for moving people, 24 percent; and for transferring data, 11 percent.
To put themselves in the best possible position, businesses need to ensure their own internal processes are operating effectively and that their data is based upon a foundation of data integrity – ensuring maximum accuracy, consistency, and context. This will not only help businesses to navigate the changes that have been made necessary by Brexit, but it also ensures they are prepared for any additional measures that are introduced in the future.
Effective data management can alleviate pressures
On top of the global supply chain crisis driven by the COVID-19 pandemic, the extra red tape in the aftermath of Brexit has reportedly turned the clock back decades, presenting numerous challenges for businesses as a result. A combination of incorrect and missing documents, as well as complex import and export requirements, has forced companies to rapidly change processes to mitigate these challenges. But with an abundance of data to manage and process, adapting has been far from simple.
For example, if a manufacturer has products to export to multiple storage locations across the world, it’s not merely a case of routing the goods to the right place. A single product line can have hundreds of different attributes across multiple data objects from sourcing lists, pricing, product codes and specifications. This information must then be collected and entered into systems with the correct categorisation, where it can be easily accessed and transported to the required destination.
Often this data is held in multiple systems and exists in a variety of formats, creating inaccessible silos that make it almost impossible to manage – particularly for businesses that are reliant on manual processes. Information that may be exchanged using email routing, spreadsheets and other standalone solutions frequently end up producing in duplicate and untracked files, which results in poor data quality and reduced levels of compliance.
Through combining business process automation with effective data management, organisations are better positioned to manage their data efficiently. Helping to create accurate data, while also facilitating the validation process, leads to good quality data within the system of record – enabling flexible, insightful, and secure data extraction. This can help to alleviate pressure and businesses can be confident that data can be adapted in accordance with any changes that Brexit may bring, now or in the future.
Centralising data is crucial for effective data management
For businesses, the amount of available structured and unstructured supply chain data continues to grow at an exponential rate – making it difficult to manage data in a fast-paced, global supply chain, whilst still ensuring they remain competitive. It’s not unusual to have dozens of processes and organisations involved in providing a product or service – including suppliers, manufacturers, logistics partners, wholesalers, retailers, and, of course, the end consumer. This complexity creates an additional risk of miscommunication and disruption, often involving incorrect or incomplete data. It should come as no surprise for businesses, that when data is poorly managed and inconsistent, supply chains become inefficient. In turn resulting in more time spent managing information between systems and trading partners, and less on value-adding activities.
By leveraging the benefits of inbuilt and centralised management solutions, businesses are better positioned to increase visibility, eliminate the risk of errors, and govern their data. Data files that are managed centrally with tracked workflows help prevent bad data entering the ERP system – and this combined with automation of key business processes, helps ensure operational efficiency, movement of goods, compliance and reporting practices.
Automated processes can help mitigate future risk
UK businesses must reassess their data management strategies to mitigate the impact of any future disruption in order to ensure new trading relationships can be sustained and remain competitive. Taking steps to improve data management processes, such as by establishing automated data management systems, can help to alleviate the challenges of disconnected supply chain data by providing a more connected view across the business, as well as helping to ensure a foundation of data integrity. This allows businesses to make faster, and more confident, decisions based on a framework of data that has maximum accuracy, consistency and context – something that is essential for navigating any hurdles that may be faced as a result of Brexit or other supply chain disruptions.