Information communication tools used to coordinate food chains
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Chain coordination is growing in importance for those in the food industry to maintain access to global markets and competitive advantage. Information communication facilitates coordination and is seen as the glue that holds organisational chain relationships together. This paper describes how Australian food processors have been exchanging information to coordinate customers and suppliers in their chains along with changes over time. The most frequent information exchanged was to resolve problems. Operational issues were only discussed when exceptions arose and this was decreasing over time, as problems were resolved and processes improved. For the organisations studied, they were increasingly formalising processes to review progress and performance. A wide range of organisational departments were involved in communications with customers and suppliers, especially to resolve problems and develop new products. While the traditional telephone and face-to-face communication methods were the most popular, e-mails were replacing faxes. There were also moves to increasing use of reports, electronic data interchange and intranets for more well developed relationships with larger customers and suppliers. These changes in communication systems were the source of some increased satisfaction with information systems by improving timeliness and depth of information shared. However, there was perceived to be some room for further improvement.
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