To make matters even more complicated, many medical device companies manage their supply chains in platforms that are disconnected from provider or patient relationship management CRMs. These systems may rely on antiquated point platforms, legacy ERPs, homegrown databases, or spreadsheets. Consequently, misaligned systems make it difficult to generate insights that improve inventory ordering processes, forecasting, quality management, and shipping logistics.
Forward-thinking medical device companies are investing in what we refer to as the “connected supply chain.”
The main goal of connected supply chain management is to make all the activities from the manufacturer to the end-user more efficient – including sourcing parts, manufacturing, fulfillment, and service. Typically, this requires unifying multiple systems. At its most basic, it’s supply chain management + CRM.
Additionally, integration between systems ensures compliance with FDA regulations. Medical device companies need to connect disparate supply chain systems with partner, client, clinical, and patient data to provide the most reliable, effective products.
Incorporating supply chain management into the CRM creates more agile supply chains with little waste and tighter gaps in production, especially in the current environment of supply chain shortages.
Benefits of Managing Supply Chain in a CRM
Customer relationship management (CRM) is essential for any business. At its core, CRM is the process of managing customer interactions to help improve customer satisfaction, loyalty, and retention. The platform also typically features data analysis tools to pinpoint individual customer needs, provide customers with product information, and ensure that the customer has an exceptional experience.
Integrating the supply chain into CRM further simplifies customer acquisition, retention, and support. For medical device companies, each patient’s experience must be orchestrated in a unified platform that syncs experience with delivery.
Here are four core benefits of integrating supply chain management with CRM platforms.
1. Order Management
Some of the most successful consumer-driven companies today have incorporated CRM and order management features into a single app. The best examples are Amazon, Starbucks, Etsy, and McDonald’s. These companies have made it easy to track data such as customers’ profiles and preferences, which franchises they visit, their buying patterns, and which products they buy. This information gives the companies an overview of their entire supply chain – but computed at customer or product levels to forecast demand more accurately.
Incorporating order management into the CRM makes it easier for a medical device company to view the entire supply chain. It also makes it more practical to obtain resources from the most cost-effective suppliers and use the information to inform its strategic business decisions.
Order management features on a CRM platform makes it easier to predict demand and quickly react to shortages, recalls, and backorders. This is mainly because the platform provides an in-depth analysis of the market status, sales, and distribution per customer.
2. Inventory Forecasting
The more accurately a company can forecast “demand,” the better it will adequately “supply” the market without shortages or overages. An accurate inventory forecast is a delicate science, especially in a market where supply chains and customer demands fluctuate rapidly. An accurate forecast requires as many customer insights as possible and the support of a robust data analysis tool.
When a medical device company incorporates the right supply chain tools in a CRM platform, it can more accurately predict market insights using customer data in its CRM. This would enable them to deliver all the products the market needs on time.
Better still, the company improves profit margins by understanding how clinical impact drives device adoption. With the right data and analysis, the company can determine where to allocate resources to get the best return on investment. The forecasting feature in the CRM helps the company anticipate customer needs by comparing predictive data with patient requirements.
3. Quality Management
Device quality is a massive competitive advantage in the medical device industry. As consumerism continues to define healthcare, patients and providers have more devices to choose from. Service issues further pressure supply chains. By incorporating quality management into the CRM, medical device companies can quickly react to issues and ensure the proper inventory is available to address them.
Quality management also gathers data on the durability of various components based on use. The company can then use the data gathered from CRM to optimize the quality of products still in the production line, eliminating waste.
Quality management is an invaluable tool for a medical device company when incorporated into the CRM. This enables the company to track end-to-end Corrective Action and Preventive Action (CAPA) more seamlessly. When this process is enabled, the company can quickly connect recall management with ordering and forecasting processes to ensure quality products reach patients and healthcare providers.
Quality management features in a CRM platform can also help the company comply with FDA regulations for integrated Quality Management.
4. Shipping and Tracking
Patients today expect anytime, anywhere delivery of their orders. They also demand the ability to easily track, modify, and return their orders. As customer demands change, manufacturers and suppliers must react.
In a connected CRM, a device manufacturing company can provide patients and healthcare providers with self-service tools. This makes it much easier to provide personalized shipping, tracking, and delivery of medical devices.
Incorporating supply chain management into the CRM also makes it more practical for the company to automatically adjust inventory levels based on fluctuations in the market. The company can use an algorithm to automatically reorder components based on projected demand and provide accurate product tracking, including departure and delivery, to improve customer satisfaction.
CRM is an essential element in modern supply chain management. The most notable reason every company should integrate is that it creates visibility into the supply chains, even during volatile times – easing production, improving sales, and allowing marketing teams to accurately target their efforts toward patients and healthcare providers who are most likely to buy their devices.
Integrating order, inventory, quality, and shipping data in a single CRM solution leads to increased efficiency, less waste, faster supply chains, more visibility, and lower costs – resulting in greater customer satisfaction and increased revenue.