Your Guide to Software Selection

Critical Supply Chain Management Software Features and Requirements

In the field of Enterprise Resource Planning (ERP) software, Supply Chain Management (SCM) software is important. This type of software tool allows companies to much more effectively source raw materials and control product cycles.

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Essentially, companies use supply chain management tools to determine how they will purchase and acquire everything that they need to run the business. Supply chain management helps with things like lean inventory models and inventory tracking, so that there’s less waste within the company. With better supply chain management, the company’s leadership knows where every resource is, and how deliveries will work. This in turn drives more efficiency, better profit margins, and smarter, more agile business processes.

Supply Chain Monitoring and Planning

Different kinds of supply chain monitoring and planning software effectively oversee the movement of materials and items through the company’s supply chain. Using things like Key Performance Indicators, as well as various status reports, supply chain monitoring solutions look at demand and supply in an active and actionable way.

  • Advanced Shipment Notification Management
  • Customizable Notifications
  • Electronic Messaging API
  • In-Transit Status Updates
  • User Configurable Dashboard
  • Visual Supply Chain Map
  • Demand Forecasting
  • Supply Network Scheduling
  • Supply Chain Simulation

Order Processing and Inventory Management

Order processing and inventory management assist in evaluating how companies bring inventory materials into a business, and how they work with them after they are acquired. By organizing these activities, companies get more insight into how they work with suppliers and again, where inventory will be at any given stage of a process chain.

  • Sales Order Processing
  • Order to Cash Management
  • Inventory Optimization
  • RFID integration
  • Barcode Integration
  • Shelf-Life Monitoring
  • Vendor Accuracy Checks
  • Automatic Re-Order Triggers

Warehouse Management

Warehouse management tools bring a more precise level of control to specific physical warehouse operations. These types of software help decision makers to observe a warehouse as a physical environment or as a “planned organism” to more capably direct what happens inside of the facility. They help to deal with all parts of the equation, including labor, materials, floor space and operational protocols, everything that makes a warehouse work day to day.

  • Inbound Processing
  • Integrated Labeling
  • Storage Optimization
  • Labor Management
  • Cross-Dock Planning
  • Multiple Warehouse Support
  • Virtual Yard for Off-Site Equipment
  • Outbound Processing
  • Warehouse KPI Reports

Transportation Management

Transportation management tools work on systems that handle supplies in transit.

In many cases, this is a mix of over the road fleet management tools, and monitoring for other types of shipping, such as rail, air or sea shipping. Different types of software tools evaluate and control the transportation of goods through various shipping models and help to maintain standards for both timelines and secure handling of supplies and inventory.

  • Container Lot Tracking
  • Document Management
  • Freight Payment Automation
  • Shipping Compliance Management
  • Load Planning
  • Dynamic Route Planning Engine
  • Freight Matrix
  • Claims Management
  • Carrier Performance Reporting
  • Third Party Carrier Integration

Sourcing and Supply Management

Sourcing procurement and supplier management tools bring other slightly different angles to the process of evaluating the supply chain. Many of these tools look at costs, contract management, supplier quality and other issues. They help drive the sourcing and procurement of raw materials and supplies, and assess the technical aspects of the relationships between companies and their vendors. As one of the more abstract parts of a supply chain management system, sourcing and supply tools are nonetheless vital in establishing key tracking methodologies for supplies and materials, and for using software automation in aid of efficiency.

  • Sourcing Strategy Development
  • Bid and Negotiation Management
  • Current Spend Assessment
  • Supply Market Assessment
  • Cost Analysis
  • Expense Logging
  • Contract Management
  • Supplier Invoice Auditing
  • Supplier Performance Reporting

Supply Chain Analytics

Other software tools bring an analytics approach to the supply chain. These tools use business intelligence and analytics principles to look at how a supply chain works, and how items move through life cycle processes. By understanding the principle of harnessing existing data assets, pros use these categories of planning tools to move a business forward in specific ways, with respect to the goods and materials that are part of physical product development, manufacturing and industrial projects.

  • Demand Forecast Accuracy Analysis
  • Information Management Integration
  • Inventory Analysis
  • Key Performance Indicators

Collaboration Features

Collaboration features help to support business partnerships that enhance a supply chain. Partners can get accessible data on the status of items or shipments, look at transparent inventory models, or manage identity access for a system. The feature sets of these resources are made to allow multiple stakeholders to work together on a project, and to be on the same page, without labor-intensive communications and checking tasks. Bringing automation to collaboration can help companies tremendously in expanding their power, scaling up operations, and developing a more sophisticated approach to business.

  • Self-serve Internet Portal
  • Role-Based Authorization
  • Inventory Availability Reporting
  • Status Reporting

Technical Features

Companies also have to evaluate the deployment environment of a technology, the operating systems that it runs on, and the security features that it provides. For example, security features may include things like an audit trail, encryption standards, access control systems and perimeter or in-depth network monitoring.

Companies should assess systems for fault tolerance, availability and scalability, and look at how integration works with application programming interfaces and other tools. Companies can assess the license type for a product, and the types of user support that are available, for instance, phone, web or live support. Looking at service level agreements can clarify issues with maintenance, user support and things like uptime and downtime for a system.

As the purchasing company digs into what sorts of consulting and support services are available, and how well a vendor will help with system implementation, the company can also assess the vendor’s past history as a marker of confidence. Customer recommendations and assessments of the vendor’s financial security can have an impact. Companies can ask about past experience, while also querying about available implementation and training services.

With the right kinds of supply chain support, companies can move operations into the twenty-first century, and compete in fast-paced industries.

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