Choosing supply chain management software is a very important part of ensuring that your supply chain has the ebb and flow that you need it to have. To put the importance of making the right choice into perspective, consider how greatly your organization relies on your supply chain to perform.
The supply chain is the backbone of every industry, when it is optimized you can expect growth, when it is not you can expect less than stellar results.
Many enterprises are making the choice for SCM software instead of using Enterprise Resource Planning (ERP) software for SCM. SCM software is easier to navigate, more focused on the task at hand, and can return more accurate data than the larger ERP options.
Being able to automate much of the management by having reliable software means that there is less work involved in the management of the software, more reliability, and an improved workflow.
Of course, choosing the software is the difficult part. There are several good options on the market, and the tips below will help you weed through those options to choose the software that will work best for your industry.
Tip #1 Customization for Your Industry
One of the best features the right solution can offer is the ability to have the software built around your products/industry.
In some industries and with some products there are unique supply chain needs that are not addressed in all software products. For example, if your industry is in perishable goods, your software has to be built to take into consideration the critical time frames that are involved in your supply chain.
Other examples include pharmaceutical companies that have to be able to take the supply chain from raw products to finished, end-user products and do it in conditions that are conducive to promoting the safety of the products.
Luxury items that require special serialization or commodities that are highly focused on time lines also have special SCM requirements.
All these businesses have unique issues they are trying to overcome in the supply chain, but they are all different issues with a different focus. The best SCM software will be able to address your company’s uniqueness.
Tip #2 Compatibility is not Just for Products
When comparing SCM software options, you want to be sure you have narrowed down the options to a short list of suites that will work with your current system.
It is unlikely that you will be able to come away completely unscathed when it comes to data migration and other necessary tweaks to your current system to ready it for the new SCM software, BUT the goal is to find a software that is the least disruptive to your current system.
When you are switching out your SCM software, it is not like changing out your ERP. SCM only covers a portion of your business, and you do not want to disrupt the other activities with the change. ERP switches will end up affecting every part of your operation.
Every option will need some work to seamlessly become a part of your current system, but you do want to keep the amount of changes to a minimum to keep from upsetting the rest of the apple cart that is your company’s brain.
As a side note, you also will want to consider how well the SCM works with your suppliers’, vendors’, and shippers’ systems.
The goal is to find a product that is harmonious with all the other systems that your group works with.
It can be a challenge to find the software suite that can answer all of it, but it is not impossible.
Tip #3 Consider What You Need
While each supply chain function is important, they are not all equally important. SCM software that is flexible will be able to help you to focus on the areas that are important to your company.
There are a lot of activities that fall under the supply chain umbrella, but some of them may not apply to your organization. When choosing SCM software, you do not want to get stuck with a lot of features that really just do not apply.
Extra features are nice, but only if they are customized to your particular needs, otherwise they just take up space and confuse users.
Be careful when you are dealing with software vendors that you are not dazzled by all the potential extras that you will never need or use.
Try to keep it simple and as focused on your needs as possible to get the most out of the suite.
Tip #4 Reliability of the Vendor
Even the best product needs to have a reliable vendor standing behind them. An SCM solution that is not supported by a reliable vendor is not a very useful tool.
Ultimately, you want to choose a company that is well-versed in the complex issues that supply chains face regularly and that has the experience to deal with a company of your size (whether it is small or large).
Vendor reliability is very important when you are choosing software because you do not want to wind up with software that comes from a vendor that is not around in 12 months.
You may think that it is a rarity for a software vendor to go out of business, but the reality is they can come and go pretty quickly, so be sure to buy from a trusted, reliable vendor that specializes in SCM software.
Tip #5 Keep in Mind SMART Goals
SMART (Specific, Measurable, Actionable, Realistic, Time) goals have to be in the forefront of making your choice, all while you are keeping an eye on your budget constraints. When you choose SCM software, you are actually choosing a partnership that will determine how well your supply chain will be managed.
Do not opt for a “one size fits all” approach, because it does not fit. Look for a partner that can help you to reach your goals and that can custom fit the software to those goals.
The challenge of finding the right SCM software can be daunting, but it is well worth the effort when it comes to getting results.
With a little planning and some research you can improve the management of your supply chain and improve performance.
To find a full list of supply chain management software options, along with reviews from actual users, check out Capterra’s SCM software directory. With these five tips and strong leadership and focus within your company, you’re sure to find the solution that fits all your needs.