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Supply Chain Services International, LLC
While the supply chain management software market is relatively small (compared to many other markets), the vast disparity in functionality between different SCM programs makes buying decisions much more complicated. Some programs concentrate on business intelligence, others focus on inventory control or transportation management, and there are full-suite systems that do all of the above and more. This buyer’s guide is designed to identify the features associated with supply chain management systems to help navigate the selection process.
Here’s what we’ll cover:
Supply chain software refers to the range of tools that are designed to control business processes, execute value chain transactions and manage supplier relationships. While functionality in these systems varies tremendously, common features include purchase order fulfillment, shipping, inventory and warehouse management, and supplier sourcing.
Many supply chain management systems include forecasting, which helps companies manage the fluctuations in supply and demand by use complex algorithms and consumption analysis to evaluate buyer histories. Supply chain optimization software can be an invaluable tool in maximizing production efficiency and planning for the future.
|Supply Chain Planning||Planning systems are used to forecast customer demand and adjust the speed and flow of production accordingly. Simulated demand estimates are run using historical trend data and planned promotion schedules to determine how changes in market awareness will affect your organization's inventory requirements in the future. Example vendors include InStyle ERP, SCP 4.0, VISION SCM, and Clever.|
|Demand Planning||Demand planning software improves the accuracy of potential demand forecasts by reducing biases in the data and providing that data to your organization in real-time. Multi-dimensional forecasting allows users to view information through a variety of different filters--by market, time or customer--and run a series of "what if" simulations to project future demand. Example vendors include Microsoft Dynamics, Geneva BMS, Fishbowl Inventory and SAP.|
|Vendor Managed Inventory||Vendor managed inventory (VMI) systems give suppliers the ability to monitor and replenish the buyer's inventory themselves. Various communication options--such as XML, web portals and email--help multiple business partners increase visibility. Buyers can automate sold inventory reports, and suppliers respond with new shipment notifications and invoices. Example vendors include Datalliance VMI, RedPrairie, SAP and Aravo.|
|Supplier Management||Buyers use supplier relationship solutions to monitor the performance of their suppliers. Users can assess supplier risk through user-defined risk categories. Performance analyses utilize key performance indicators (KPI) and audit trails to monitor spend and supplier performance. The software also helps users keep track of their suppliers' regulatory compliance. Example vendors include R.Portal, Geneva BMS, Fishbowl Inventory and S2K.|
|Procurement||Procurement software carries out purchase orders and maintains the financial side of supplier/customer relationships. Purchasing terms are distributed electronically throughout the organization for instant approval, and expenses are logged for future reference in the next sourcing cycle. As the accounting segment of SCM systems, procurement also handles reporting and compliance issues. Example vendors include Coupa, SphereWMS, Microsoft Dynamics and WISE.|
|Strategic Sourcing||Sourcing software is used before the procurement process to establish cost-cutting goals and to pre-screen potential vendors. Spend analysis pinpoints unnecessary costly supplier relationships by comparing current spend to other market options. Buyers can submit e-RFx, electronic requests for x (quotes, proposals and other information), to potential vendors to gather data for making informed purchases. Example vendors include ShippersEdge, Aravo, Epicor and Lawson.|
|Warehouse Management||WMS systems monitor and control the movement of materials within the warehouse. Shipping and receiving events are controlled with advanced shipment notifications, and picking and putaway are tracked using tools like auto ID data capture (AIDC) and radio-frequency identification (RFID). WMS software also assists with the design of warehouse infrastructure. Third party logistics companies should review our 3PL software guide for a list of systems tailored for 3PL. Example vendors include SphereWMS, WISE, HighJump Warehouse Advantage, Manhattan Associates and RedPrairie.|
|Transportation Management||TMS software guides the movement of materials to and from the warehouse. Logistics software can suggest the most efficient delivery modalities (air, land, sea) and manages multiple delivery variations like heterogenous vehicle fleets and load splitting constraints. Deliveries are monitored using satcomm and other communication devices. Land-based fleets should review our trucking software guide for the top dispatch and routing systems. Example vendors include TMW, Retalix and FreightMaster.|
|Order Fulfillment||Order fulfillment software helps supply chain managers decrease lead times on production orders, resulting in smooth quote to cash processes. The system can determine whether build-to-order (BTO) or engineer-to-order (ETO) is the best solution for each product. After order completion, order fulfillment software keeps track of unpaid orders through revenue recognition processes. Example vendors include SphereWMS, ShipppersEdge and ShipSoft.|
The benefits of supply management software are considerable:
While these supply chain solutions do come at a price, proper implementation will usually lead to a calculable return on investment within a year.