ec-bp's Bloggers

Selecting SCM Systems

Written by Ken Kinlock
Published on Tuesday, 09 October 2012

cloud-storm-approaching-AL-420x0In a recent article Supply Chain Management as a Service (SCMaaS), a couple of interesting comments came up: (1) are there end-to-end applications available or just the sort of point solutions you've listed? Based on your broad definition of the supply chain, it would almost seem that a broad solution would be a cloud-based ERP; (2) are there vendors that focus on the planning side? The vendors you describe seem to be on the execution part of the process.

On another recent project (Wholesale Distributors; Do They Use ERP or CRM?), I found  software that was advertised as addressing “Wholesale Distribution Software”.

Back to basics. Just what is a Supply Chain Management System?

As we know, Supply Chain Management (SCM) is tracking materials, information, and finances as the whole process flows from the supplier to the manufacturer, to the wholesaler, to the retailer, finally to the consumer. SCM coordinates and integrates both within and among the companies (partners). The SCM goal is to reduce inventory while at the same time making sure that product is available when and where it is required.  As a solution for successful Supply Chain Management, sophisticated software systems with Web interfaces can compete against  Supply Chain Management as a Service (SCMaaS).

Supply Chain Management can be broken down to three main flows. The product flow is the physical movement of goods from a supplier to a customer (plus returns). The information flow is orders, shipping, receiving (you know, all those EDI documents). The financial flow is credit terms, payments, and consignment/title.

As we said above, SCM software is distinctly split between planning applications and execution applications. Planning is using advanced algorithms to figure out the best way to fill an order. Execution tracks the physical flow of goods, manages the materials, and the financial information means payday for all.

Some SCM applications assume companies are working closely with other companies (extended enterprise) so they support the sharing of data both inside and outside the enterprise.

In selecting SCM systems, we find many are tied into ERP systems. There are numerous consultants who make a living evaluating SCM systems for clients. There is even software you can buy to evaluate for you. Some of this material is available on the Internet and I have taken advantage of it in evaluating SCM vendors.

Another issue to be considered is what software is currently running in a corporation.

Sooner or later, most companies will acquire another firm. As a result, company’s find that they are running multiple ERP systems or instances of the same system.

One of the “hot points” I discovered about this project is EDI integration, so I have decided to treat as an important criteria in selecting SCM systems. There are integration tools available from SPS Commerce that facilitate the drag and drop integration of EDI information with practically any ERP application and significantly reduce the cost traditionally associated with EDI integration projects.

On to my analysis. My spreadsheet for this project can be viewed as either a .pdf file or an .xls file. (Open either file and click on company name to see more details).

My spreadsheet is far from perfect. It is only as good as the search criteria I used. On the surface, it DOES show vendors who claim to handle both planning and execution. It does show that vendors do not talk too much about EDI. If you have any suggestions or corrections to the spreadsheet, please post a comment.

Shown below are the criteria I used to complete the spreadsheet.

SCM Planning versus SCM Execution: Forecasting software provides you with the technology you need to feel confident about forecasting future product demand. Demand planning technologies help businesses plan the right inventory, in the right place, at the right time.

WMS (Warehouse Management System)  Functionality; Adaptability; WMS Technology

3PL (TRANSPORTATION MANAGEMENT SYSTEM: TMS) Transportation Management Operation; International Trade Logistics (ITL)

Mfg. & Inventory Order Promising; Inventory Management and Visibility; Sourcing; Execution Visibility; Inbound and Assembly Coordination or Multi-site Staging; Shipping and Outbound Management; Service Parts Planning; product technology


Supplier Relationship Management: Design; Sourcing; Procurement; Fulfillment;                                              Manufacturing; Settlement; collaboration

Customer Relationship Management: Measure and control contacts with customers; Collect data about the service requests, order entry, satisfaction and billing.

EDI Electronic commerce, POS, integration

Purchasing / Demand Promotion Planning; Pricing and Profit Optimization; Forecasting; Merchandise Planning; Life Cycle Planning; Consensus Planning; Supply Chain Optimization; Supply Chain Event Management; Production and Supply Planning 

Financial commerce; credit terms, payments, and consignment/title

COLLABORATION: Web-based community marketplace; 24x7 customer support and data audit trail; Real time information exchange between all parties; Exchange information electronically, irrespective of data format and technical capabilities; Single source of shipment information; Integrate trading partner information into key business systems; and other

REFERENCES: OK Where did our lists of vendors, our evaluation criteria, and our evaluation data on the spread sheet come from? Either from a listed company's WebSite or from, let's call them, “third party evaluation WebSites”. Here they are listed below:

CAPTERRA: The smart way to find software.

Distribution Download: Distribution Software reviews and demos.

ERP Software Blog: Microsoft Dynamics vendors provide comparisons and opinions to professionals in the ERP/Accounting software selection process

Find The Best Unbiased data-driven Comparisons

Point Of Sale Software Buyers Guide:  Learn How to Quickly Find and Choose Reliable Point of Sale Software and Avoid Costly Mistakes

SoftScout is a business software directory that has 30,385 products listed.

Software Advice In the last year, this website helped 35,173 organizations find the right software. Knowledge that was once in the hands of a few experts and industry insiders is now yours... for free.

Technology Evaluation dot com helps you choose the best enterprise software solutions for your organization.

Wikipedia This was my (rare) source when I could find nothing else.

Vendor Showcase: A directory in seven languages.

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