In a recent survey, 85% of executives reported that they’re currently struggling with inefficient technologies in their supply chain. Are you nodding your head in agreement? If so, there are many tools available to help turn the tide.
In fact, there are several types of supply chain management software designed to help organizations optimize every touchpoint their goods and services encounter. Today, we’re looking at how these solutions compare to one another. We’ll also share a few software selection tips to help you make a wise investment.
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What are the Different Types of Supply Chain Management Software?
It’s never been more imperative to take a closer look at your internal operations. Is there anywhere you’re spending more time or money than necessary? If so, how can you achieve supply chain cost reduction and build your bottom line?
Supply chain management (SCM) solutions are designed to automate core functions and minimize human error, helping you avoid costly setbacks while improving every facet of production and distribution.
However, not all SCM software meets every need, so you should narrow your search to the functionality you need the most. Often, you can find this functionality within a single ERP system. However, many organizations use a best-of-breed strategy to take advantage of more specialized capabilities.
ERP vs SCM is an important concept to understand before evaluating SCM functionality. Once you understand the difference, you can begin to evaluate some of the common types of SCM software:
1. Order Processing Software
The speed at which your company can process an order directly affects customer satisfaction and buyer loyalty. Order processing efficiency is also critical to ensuring the entire fulfillment process functions as it should.
Order processing software is designed to automate and support key steps that occur at this junction, including:
- Sales order processing
- Order fulfillment
- Overall order management
Without the need for manual POs and invoices, these platforms automatically capture order data, reducing the time required to process each order in the conventional method.
When evaluating these solutions, we recommend prioritizing vendors who offer robust order fulfillment capabilities that can provide the following benefits:
- Reduced order entry errors
- Automated invoice creation
- Increased visibility into each order
- Better managed returns
2. Inventory Management Software
Inventory management software tools can help optimize the use of warehouse space and streamline the entire production planning stage. In turn, this can help you increase efficiency and unlock cost savings.
When evaluating this type of solution, it’s important to seek functionality that can help you more clearly understand your current and projected supply chain demand. This is especially important when supply chain disruption is rampant.
Look for solutions that provide the following capabilities:
- Future forecasting
- Materials planning
- Scheduling and simulation
3. Shipping Optimization Software
Particularly for companies operating high-value supply chains, it can be difficult to accurately track order shipments across a widespread enterprise. If you ship multiple types of cargo to worldwide locations, your potential for growth is incredible, but so is your risk of human error.
Shipping optimization tools help automate this function, providing real-time updates at every step of the shipping process. This way, you always have visibility into essential data, and you can take quick action whenever an issue occurs. In fact, most types of shipping software are optimized for mobile use, so business leaders can check the status of their supply chain at any time.
We recommend looking for solutions designed to meet all the unique needs of your distribution network, including your throughput requirements. If you ship internationally, the software also should produce customs-related documents and international carrier support as required.
4. Warehouse Management Software
Certain types of SCM software are designed to help you manage the day-to-day functions of your warehouse. These often are equipped with advanced planning tools, that help you handle more complex functions, including:
- Order receiving
- Product tracking
- Route planning
- Cycle counting
- Kitting and bundling
Look for warehouse management software that will integrate seamlessly with your other in-house platforms, including your ERP software. Other key considerations include:
- Available licensing options
- Software scalability
- Additional software required (e.g., components required to facilitate reporting, printing or systems integration)
- Company-specific functionality (e.g., support for multiple warehouses)
5. Sourcing and Procurement Software
An important component of managing your supply chain is understanding and evaluating supplier bids. You need to be able to clearly see what you’re spending on every material you purchase.
Bid and spend software tools function as their name implies. They help you automate a majority of the procurement process, so you can reduce the number of inherent errors and optimize spending.
These solutions can help you evaluate supplier bids, as well as better control approvals and spending limits for your procurement team. As such, the strongest bid and spend tools include supplier management functions, such as performance analysis tools.
Unlock New Opportunities at Every Step of Your Supply Chain
These are only a few types of supply chain management software on the market. You can also find specialized solutions for functions like demand forecasting, business reporting and transportation management.
As you prepare to evaluate different kinds of SCM software, the best place to start is by taking time to understand your pain points and your digital strategy. Our ERP consultants can help you define your current and future supply chain needs. Get started by contacting us below.