Wednesday, October 6, 2010

Supply Chain Software Systems

Achieving success with Supply Chain Management is much more than just a one time software selection or implementation activity; it is a big change in company operations and culture as well as a continuous journey that advances as customer needs evolve, company capabilities change and software technology advances. Supply chain management strategy is a business strategy first and foremost. Supply chain software delivers the framework, data management and process automation to drive distribution strategies. Supply Chain Management practitioners have uncovered successful methods, business processes, lessons and practices which reduce risk and increase Supply Chain software system payback.

Diligent supply chain software selections are a first step to successful deployment and post go-live production. Ifyou fail the supply chain system software selection you are very likely to also fail in a downstream chain of technology challenges, cultural issues and failed distribution-focused business processes. Fortunately, achieving success is more science than art.

Supply chain management processes cross departmental lines and share information with external trading partners. This makes Supply Chain management systems one of the more challenging business software applications for IT departments to integrate with other systems.

Although different from one entity to the next, supply chain management software systems that generally make sense to integrate with the supply chain software may include accounting software, ERP software, CRM software and a host of other legacy systems. Many companies puruse their supply chain system with a best of breed application strategy which results in additional systems integration. Retail Chains interface their software systems with Merchandising and Store Operation Systems.

Fulfilling sales order processing and inventory distribution is an integrated effort between several business systems, including: ERP, CRM, Warehouse Management Systems and Vendor Managed Inventory applications. Only when these business software systems are integrated do sales people have real-time visibility into what products or goods they can sell and companies have the processes to efficiently pick, pack, ship and invoice customers timely and accurately.

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