The Healthcare Hub
Explore four key insights from government healthcare supply chain expert, Ted Dagnal, on the importance of data, managing supplier pools, cloud-based DaaS and more.
While there has been significant capital investment and attention focused on improving federal supply chains in the aftermath of the pandemic, many of these efforts may be missing the real problem: While ongoing analysis of how the national stockpile and supply chains broke down in March 2020 is one approach to addressing the frailty of our nation’s federal supply chains, the real disruption may have come from the underlying challenge of obtaining and maintaining quality data, an issue we still need to take steps to address.
As many chief procurement officers working with large supply chains will point out, supply chain goals usually shift to an exercise in analyzing alternatives, and as a result often fixate on a single component, such as better inventory management, demand forecasting or fulfillment. Instead, federal supply chain leaders should perhaps take a step back to gain a broader perspective on the systemic risks that all start and end with data.
While billions of dollars have been allocated to replenishing stockpiles across the country, relying on siloed, behind-the-scenes data diminishes visibility and fosters faulty or deficient reporting, which only further weakens business intelligence and informed decision making. By harmonizing and enriching data, government agencies can gain more line of sight and control over their entire supply chain.
Upon taking office, President Biden made it a priority to shore up, secure and invest in more resilient and diverse supply chains. His “Executive Order on America’s Supply Chains,” called for a federal interagency review of several agencies. Soon after, the American Rescue Plan Act of 2021 appropriated billions in new funding to various federal agencies to continue updating supply chain systems.
Across the federal government, new checks and balances must involve getting a handle on the voluminous supplier-fed data coming from different sources, with varying attributes, touching multiple points across the supply chain – and having a plan to standardize that data for more effective decision making.
The pandemic also reminded us that supply chains must constantly monitor and minimize unverified or uncontracted suppliers, along with purchasers buying off-contract products from unconfirmed sources to quickly source what they need.
Off-contract and unverified purchasing happens when there is no single, consolidated catalog of items nor a well-maintained item master. Without these, there is no single source of truth into what items are available and where they come from. When that data is properly analyzed, it can be toggled and filtered in a way that serves up the preferred products that are on contract and acceptable to be purchased.
Post-pandemic, the federal government has continued its ardent push toward strengthening and increasing its data-as-a-service (DaaS) and cloud-first capabilities. This became evident with the increase of new chief data officers as official positions and the Biden administration’s ongoing infusion of funding to modernize and improve health-related data collection. A DaaS platform allows for informed, data-driven decision making, cross-agency collaboration and better service to constituents.
Being data-driven means that supply chains can engage internal and external stakeholders in the actions they need to achieve the performance objectives they set. To drive necessary performance improvements, supply chains must increase visibility by delivering the right data to drive the right actions. This transparency across organizational boundaries needs to reinforce positive behaviors and outcomes while also driving corrective action if partners are negatively affecting operations – all based on valid, data-driven evidence.
Agencies are now being held more accountable for knowing what is happening across their supply chain at any given moment. Moving data out of static spreadsheets and making it easier for leaders at all levels to consume and analyze it will help agencies better measure and track all aspects of their supply chain. Not only that, but agencies can regain control of purchasing advantages – contract compliance, cost avoidance, and reduced p-card spend – and become data driven.
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