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Removing Kinks in Outsourced Manufacturing

Vimali Swamy
Friday, October 1, 2010
Vimali Swamy
Businesses and supply chains have become substantially more global over the last decade, but have manufacturers been able to cope up with this rapid growth? Between 1995 and 2007, the number of transnational companies more than doubled, from 38,000 to 79,000, and foreign subsidiaries nearly tripled, from 265,000 to 790,000. In addition to spreading geographically, supply chains now involve more companies. Nearly 80 percent of executives expect the number of collaborative relationships with third parties to increase. Currently, an ever-broader range of activities are being outsourced: between 2007 and 2010, R&D outsourcing is forecasted to increase by 65 percent, and engineering services and product-design projects will increase by more than 80 percent. Supply chains must also contend with rapidly expanding and contracting product portfolios. In the consumer products industry, for example, product introductions increased by 17 percent in 2006 – more than double the 2005 rate. Portfolio rationalization is eliminating SKUs (Stock Keeping Units) almost as fast. Together, these shifts are creating constant turmoil. Confronted with such daunting complexities, supply chain executives face five major challenges — Cost containment, supply chain visibility, risk management, increasing customer demands, and globalization. These are exactly the challenges that Serus looks to address with its wide array of solutions.

Serus, a Sunnyvale based company that provides enterprises with a proven end-to-end Intelligent Operations Management solutions has a lot to say on this topic. Serus has been a pioneer of technology and managed services for companies with distributed or outsourced manufacturing operations and have been delivering solutions for the past 9 years. The Serus SaaS solutions enable efficient automated collaboration, execution, and decision making across global supply and distribution networks, saving millions of dollars for manufacturers. Serus provides an end-to-end application that satisfies inter-company business process requirements for product engineering, operations, and finance to manage outsourced partners – all driven by single source of truth. The Serus product is deployed as an affordable cloud solution, as opposed to expensive enterprise software deployment or a custom one off software implementation. “We have built an ecosystem of suppliers enabling our customers a plug-and-play information exchange. We have operations in North America and India; we established an India operation to take advantage of engineering brilliance and to potentially serve the growing manufacturing sector. Along with our products and services, we include industry best practices and domain expertise,” says Indu Navar, CEO and Founder of Serus.

The Great Manufacturing Challenge

When a company deploys the Serus solution, it addresses an organization’s three main pain points, operations, finance, and IT. "What we do is help companies manage their operations by running our solution alongside their existing ERP systems, be it Oracle or SAP, in support of the manufacturing efforts that takes place outside their four walls, which includes collaboration with their extended outsourced partners," explains Indu. In operations management and IT, Serus helps in executing everyday tasks like providing day-to-day information product specifications, testing scripts, and sending other project information to the partners, thereby, managing all the inventory information that goes back and forth, over its product platform. Furthermore, the Serus approach manages all the financial information, like the actual cost or the invoice that is paid to the outsourced manufacturers and it then collaborates with the systems at the partner and supplier site.

The company’s flagship solution is an Intelligent Operations Management (IOM) application suite. At the center of the IOM offering is a B2B Hub that provides real-time data aggregation and content management, including facilities for data cleaning and error resolution, combined with collaboration across the extended enterprise. Its customers recognize that IOM removes the need for large, complex spreadsheets that are difficult to maintain and audit, and that the IOM solution includes a set of modules for business functions on a platform that supports advanced reporting, decision-making, and action-taking.

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