In our last blog post, we talked about best-of-breed technology partnerships and how employing nimble, easy-to-implement and integrate software can be of tremendous benefit and give commercial advantage to organisations. In part two of the series, we will explore the importance and benefits of internal and external user collaboration in central location. 

Collaboration: A First Glance

Collaboration refers to two or more individuals, from the same or different companies, working to achieve a common goal. In commodity and freight markets, there are tens to hundreds of people working on the details, corrections and amendments for each trade deal, from negotiation to execution, across the many departments and organisations that need to collaborate. 

Traditional collaborative tools were once a feasible solution to both internal and external collaboration, but now, as a society, we have evolved professionally from collaborating on email to exchanging information on different real-time chat platforms such as Microsoft Teams, Slack, WhatsApp, WeChat and many others, so isn’t it time for an industry that heavily relies on collaboration to move to more advanced and interoperable platforms built with the market’s needs in mind? Other industries have been quick to embrace the concept of a single, central platform that contains a secure “golden copy” of data and provides access to authorised parties to collaborate.

The commodity and freight markets could greatly benefit from parties collaborating on platforms that allow activity-level collaboration and provide efficiencies to their businesses, with abilities such as setting clear compliance controls within workflows, ensuring end-to-end data capture and providing a complete audit trail of every interaction. 

Real-Time Collaboration: Digital workflows 

Being able to collaborate in real-time, on one platform that standardises data, brings a competitive advantage to a company. Besides, it is the most obvious way forward as COVID has pushed many companies around the world to work remotely and has highlighted potential points of failure throughout the supply chain, being able to collaborate both internally and externally comes with many benefits. The collaborative ecosystem can be achieved by employing smart technology which enables digital, improved workflows and understands the varied, complex needs of the industry. 

Having a collaborative workflow means accessing a hybrid system produced by the integration of two previously separate software models: social software (such as chat, instant messaging, and document collaboration) and service management (workflow) software. This type of technology will enable the organisation to: 

  • Increase speed and efficiency, reducing turnaround time. 
  • Strengthen team relationships through a more collaborative culture. 
  • Effectively work remotely and on the go. 
  • Provide a better customer experience, which improves customer relationships. 
  • Enhances employee experience. 
  • Streamline processes into single workflows, providing transparency and a clear schedule of tasks/approvals.

Real-time collaboration on a single platform allows all parties to achieve their goals quicker, which is essential in the commodity and freight industries, where significant amounts of money can be lost in the time organisations or departments are waiting for approval, for a document, for information or a signature.    

Collaborative Software: The Future 

Innovative platforms enable collaboration between team members, cross-functional and with the wider supply chain network. A truly best-of-breed software will allow its users to collaborate with their counterparties even if these do not use the same software, enabling companies to keep their data in one location, facilitating the exchange of information from a single source, unlocking multiple benefits. These benefits range from having a complete audit trail to being able to mitigate contract risks and making sure you or your counterparty deliver on the terms of the contract. 

Companies employing this software have seen great benefits, including standardised data, easy access to information, time saved on contract creation and improved profit margins. The reality is that the past year has brought with it some lessons that cannot be unlearnt and some that should have been learnt, such as the importance of resilient supply chains and that of data. Companies need to continue their outlook to the future with a more open mind and with a plan of supply chain resilience. 

Organisations are now grasping the importance of having a connected workforce regardless of circumstances and how much of an advantage and impact on the business the right technology and digitalisation can have. As an industry that is now becoming more comfortable with innovation, we need to start being more open to what can advance the industry even more. Only by staying up to date with technological advancements, we can continue to survive. There is no more denying digitalisation is the present.