Supply chains are awesome. At least, they are when they’re running efficiently. Your supply chain may be one of the more difficult aspects of your business to manage, but when it’s done well, there are plenty of rewards.
Part of what makes supply chain management as difficult as it is, is how the widespread nature of the process. Especially when optimizing a global supply chain, multiple internal departments, not to mention several external trade partners, are involved. Not only do you have to deal with a ton of people with varying expertise, but you also have to manage different software systems. Although you may have a great SCM tool to help you optimize your supply chain, the process becomes a whole lot easier with integration.
Additionally, SCM software integration can help you complete other business strategies. As we mentioned earlier, supply chain management involves several departments, trade partners and business processes. When you integrate SCM software with your other systems, you open up new possibilities for problem solving. Here are some of the business strategies you can improve with SCM software integration:
Create a Cohesive Data Exchange
One of the most common integrations companies implement involves ERP software. These systems centralize and manage all of your data in one place, allowing seamless data flow. A good ERP system allows all of your integrated systems to share data. This eliminates problems with duplicate and missing data.
ERP systems also reduce the need for manual data entry. Once data is put into one system, it’s automatically shared with other systems. For example, any shipping data you enter into your supply chain management software is made available to your financial software. This helps automate workflows and streamline various processes for your employees, thereby increasing overall production.
Gain Valuable Insights
Another common integration involves a BI solution. These applications provide data analysis, revealing valuable insights into your business. Nowhere are these insights more valuable than in the far-reaching supply chain management process.
It can be tricky to find the parts of your supply chain that slow down the whole process. That’s where a BI solution helps out the most. Using your SCM tool’s data, the BI solution analyzes each data point and can find the patterns that we can’t. For example, it may find that there are certain days of the week that correlate with higher shipping costs. In this case, you can change your shipping schedule so that day has fewer shipments than others.
Enhance the Customer Experience
One part of supply chain management that gets overlooked too often is its effect on the customer. From owning a quality product to shipping said product on time, the customer experience is highly influenced by your supply chain. Implementing SCM software integrations with your warehouse management system (WMS) and inventory management system helps you enhance the customer experience. For this reason, the integration of SCM, WMS and inventory management is becoming more and more common.
Companies know that now, more than ever before, you have to have a quality product. With intense competition across the board, they need more visibility into every aspect of their product quality, from inspection to order fulfillment. When SCM, WMS and inventory management are all integrated, you have a single workflow with which to work in. This simplifies analysis, allowing you to focus on finding the supplier and fulfillment providers that deliver the highest quality product.
The ability to provide real-time responsiveness to customers is another reason for the integration of SCM, WMS and inventory management. We explored this in our article on the convergence of the three systems: “It’s the urgency of customer requirements and expectations that are forcing WMS, SCM and inventory management systems to become more integrated, capable of providing real-time responses. This extends the traditional functional boundaries of WMS to include more efficient yard management, parcel manifests, value-added services, assemble-to-order manufacturing, third-party logistics (3PL), vendor-managed inventory (VMI) and advanced identification technologies… The more ingrained WMS is into the end-to-end supply chain processes of a company, the greater the supply chain execution accuracy and speed.”
Tracking Your Finances
Optimizing your finances often begins with your supply chain. Similarly to WMS and inventory management integration, financial software integration provides the benefit of real-time data. However, rather than responding to customer inquiries, this integration helps you maintain up-to-the-second financial data.
The best supply chain is an efficient supply chain, in particular when it comes to money. The best way to ensure it’s efficient is when you can see your financial data in real-time. This allows you to make on-the-fly decisions that are well-informed, rather than a guess. If you start to see a pattern of negative finances in the supply chain, you can correct the problem proactively, rather than reactively. This limits the damage, saving you money in the process.
Getting to Know Your Customers Better
Want to get to know your customers better? Integrate your SCM tool with a CRM. Combining your SCM data with a CRM reveals things you may not have previously known about your customers. Your marketers and sales reps can then leverage this information to better fulfill your customers’ needs.
You can use SCM software to reveal who your best customers are, both in terms of purchase frequency and purchase amount. This information is automatically sent to the CRM, where your marketers and sales reps can see it. With this information in hand, they can upsell and/or cross-sell to those customers at the times they’re most likely to buy. Alternatively, they can simply offer your customers a discount during their slow buying periods to increase their purchases.
A Better Supply Chain
Following SCM software integration, businesses tend to find that not only does their supply chain improve, but other efforts do as well. Although this kind of integration isn’t always easy in the short-term, the value it brings is more than worth it in the long-term. And if you know of other business strategies that SCM software integration can help, leave it in the comments.