Supply Chain Software

Successful Supply Chain Management is far more than just a one time project activity; it is a change in company operations and a journey that matures as customer needs evolve, organizational capabilities change and technology advances. Supply chain management is a business strategy first and foremost. Supply chain software provides the framework, management and automation to empower distribution strategies. Supply Chain Management community members have discovered successful methods, effective business processes, lessons learned and best practices which collectively reduce risk and increase SCM payback.

Proper supply chain software selections are the precursor to successful implementation and production. Fail the software selection and you are likely to incur a downstream chain of technology difficulties, cultural problems and failed customer facing business processes. Fortunately, success is more science than art. This channel is focused on the science to achieve software selection success.

Supply chain processes cross most department boundaries and exchange information with trading partners. This makes SCM systems one of the more challenging business applications for Information Technology (IT) to integrate with other systems.

Although different from one company to the next, supply systems that generally make sense to integrate with the SCM software include financial & accounting software, ERP software, CRM software and a host of other auxiliary systems. Many companies approach their supply chain management system with a best of breed software strategy which results in additional business systems to integrate. Retail Chains interface their SCM systems with Merchandising and Store Operation Systems.

The interfaces with financial systems include inventory activities, revenue data and logistical costs. A common interface would be a warehouse management distribution updating inventory management (inventory quantities and costing) and accounts receivable (customer invoicing and sales). Finance departments also need access to operational data in order to trouble shoot exceptions. For illustration, Finance or accounting software needs access to transportation documents for processing freight claims or calculating landed costs. Other areas include capturing supply chain software activities to manage costs, develop budgets and improve forecasts.

Integrating data from ERP, CRM and SCM systems is critical for end to end business process support and for reliable demand trends used in forecasting sales. Evolving best practices are improving sales forecast accuracy by incorporating methods to collaborate across department and trading partner boundaries – in other words, anyone that can provide relevant input to a sales forecast should have their judgments considered. Many of the integration requirements get built into the Sales and Operational Planning (S&OP) process, and other requirements are driven by demand management system needs.

Fulfilling inventory and customer orders is an integrated effort between several systems, including: ERP, CRM, Warehouse Management Systems (WMS) and Vendor Managed Inventory (VMI) systems. Only when these systems are integrated do sales people have visibility into what products they can actually sell and companies have the automated processes to efficiently pick, ship and invoice customers timely and accurately.

The supply and delivery sides of Supply Chain software requires integrated operational systems such as manufacturing, distribution, and SCM partner (customer, suppliers and third party logistic providers) systems. A SCM integration requirement is to gather details on the supply channel's capacity to meet demand. Logistics needs include integrating schedules and planning resources.