A supply chain is the cycle of production which contains all aspects of the process, from raw material to finished product, from storage to delivery of the product to the end customer, and everything in between. The bigger the business, the harder it is to control this chain and ensure the operation runs smoothly. This is where the practices of Supply Chain Management, commonly abbreviated as SCM, originate from.
These days, the business climate is in serious need of skilled and hard-working Supply Chain Management professionals that use their expertise to form a web of constant supply and delivery. This includes meticulous planning, tracking, and maintaining different aspects like sources, raw materials, storage, and deliveries on all levels.
When not taken care of, a supply chain can cause a business millions due to one simple error. One great example of this is the 2018 KFC debacle, where the fried chicken juggernaut had to shut down hundreds of eateries in the UK and Ireland because of small errors in the supply chain. This affected not only their finances but also majorly hampered their customer base’s loyalty.
Of course, since we are in the 21st Century, man has his best friend to help him out with a task so immense and precision demanding; Technology! Due to how many advancements we’ve seen in recent times, businesses have evolved and have increased efficiency in terms of making more products and getting them delivered everywhere in the world in a short amount of time. There is no way this could’ve been achieved by just manual application alone.
What is SCM Software?
As we’ve already established, SCM is a process of weaving together a chain of decisions and activities that bring the suppliers, manufacturers, warehouses, transporters, retail shops, and even the end consumer on the same page. All this activity and decision-making produces data that needs to be well organized and easily accessible to make better-informed decisions. This is where SCM software comes into play.
There are many forms of SCM software is used on different levels of the chain. Managers learn to work best with the data generated from such software and use it to make plans and decisions to increase the overall profit of the business.
So let’s take a look at the types of SCM software that a regular business with a B2B or B2C product exchange model would have in place. Some of these examples can also apply to other types of businesses as well.
1. Inventory Management: This type of software is used to track and monitor the remaining stock of goods and raw materials needed. It can give you insights into how to restock your products and raw materials according to analytical data and recurring patterns.
Examples: NetSuite ERP, Vend, Profitbooks, and Zoho
2. Warehouse Management: A warehouse, if not managed well, can be an extremely chaotic place. With software to keep everything organized and in order, managers find their lives easier. It gives them more refined insights into the physical storage space and labor management, amongst other things.
Examples: Fishbowl Inventory, Infoplus, and Oracle Warehouse Management
3. Customer Requirement Process: This type of software is installed to take care of customer requirements, whether that means the suppliers or the end consumer. People have queries; they have problems, and even suggestions, all of which can’t be attended to by an actual human.
Examples: Modern Requirements, ReqSuite, Orcanos, and Accompa
4. Logistics: Logistics is the most critical part of a supply chain because that is the department with the most variables that can go wrong. A factory where manufacturing is done can have everything in place and work the same way for years, but one wrong turn by a truck and everything gets pushed. Logistics management software helps you to track and monitor the exchange of goods in transit with more efficiency.
Examples: Soloplan Carlo, Linbis, Magaya Supply Chain, and Descartes Logistics
5. Returns Management: In business, you have to be prepared for those rare, damaged goods and products that leave your customers unsatisfied and affect the overall brand image. A Returns Management will help you get over such rare occurrences with an unscathed image. Such software will help you manage the return, exchange, and refunds with the customer quickly.
Examples: Everest 7, Happy Returns, Orderhive, and Bold Commerce
6. Sourcing and Supplier Management: Once you establish successful relationships with other businesses linked to yours, like suppliers of raw materials especially, there is nothing much you need to do manually to keep the flow of business up both ways. This is where such software comes into play. Once installed, a sourcing and supplier management system will help you automate the process of reordering supplies. It also lets you identify vendors and suppliers that you could potentially work with.
Examples: SAP Ariba, Specright, Anvil, and Tradeshift
7. Analytics: This has to be the most important type of software used in any supply chain. This is what gives you insights into the entire operation. How much time it takes to do what, how much money is used where, and where you have the most customers. Some software also helps you analyze potential problems and gives suggestions on how to fix them.
Examples: Looker, Tableau Desktop, Domo, and Sisense
There is no denying the fact that Supply Chain Management is one of the most essential aspects of global business. It not only affects a particular industry but has a ripple effect on a lot of things connected to this vast web. With modern software, it has become straightforward and automated to better care of a supply chain.