Critical Supply Chain Management Software Requirements and Features

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.

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, more agile business processes and greater end-to-end supply chain visibility. Below are the eight most crucial supply chain management software requirements, plus the essential features of each requirements:

1. 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.

2. 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.

3. Warehouse Management

A warehouse management system (WMS) brings a more precise level of control to specific physical warehouse operations. This type of SCM solution helps decision makers observe a warehouse as a physical environment, or as a “planned organism” to more capably direct what happens inside of a warehousing 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.

4.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.

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5. Sourcing and Supply Management

Sourcing procurement and supplier management tools bring other slightly different angles to the task of evaluating your supply chain processes. 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, as well as 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.

6. Supply Chain Analytics

Other software tools provide supply chain analytics to your SCM solution. These tools use business intelligence and analytics principles to look at how a supply chain works, in addition to 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.

7. 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 so that they’re on the same page, without the need for labor-intensive communication and manual updating. Bringing automation to collaboration can help companies tremendously in expanding their power, scaling up operations and developing a more sophisticated approach to business.

8. 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/scalability and how integration works with application programming interfaces (APIs) and other tools. Companies can assess the license type for a product, plus 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 can 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.

By implementing a tool with all of these supply chain management software requirements, companies can move operations into the twenty-first century and compete in any fast-paced industry.

Get our top Supply Chain Management Software Comparison Matrix.