What is Supply Chain Software?
Supply chain management software (SCMS) executes transactions within the supply chain, manages the company’s supplier relationships, and controls the associated business processes.
The particular features supply chain management software controls vary greatly, but this supply chain software usually processes customer requirements, processes purchase orders, manages inventory, deals with sales and distribution, manages goods receipt and warehousing, and manages and sources suppliers.
If the purchasing and sales processes are tightly integrated in the software, daily activities go smoother. Sometimes a supply chain management software forecasts demand or it makes trades with the company’s supply chain partners. Most of them are integrated with accounts payable, accounts receivable, and the general ledger in the organization’s finance department.
According to supplychain247.com, most supply chain and logistics operations can reduce their costs between 10% and 40% just by making better decisions. Supply chain optimization software is a mathematical modeling software that optimizes the manufacturing and distribution links in the supply chain. It runs a series of if-then scenarios to determine what trade-offs would most effectively maximize profits while giving great customer service. It also determines the cheapest placement of inventory. These programs often prove to be worth the investment.
Read about some of the leading trends in supply chain optimization.
Supply chain optimization software has traditionally come as a packaged solution that is integrated in Enterprise Resource Planning (ERP) software, though some vendors have served as application service providers for their clients. Today many companies are opting to use supply chain management software because it is easier and the data is more accurate than ERP is.
Logistics software manages just the transportation and warehousing links in the supply chain. More specifically, it gives a company import and export support, transportation management, track and trace ability, warehouse management, risk management, and inventory control.
This can be further broken down into “inbound logistics” and “outbound logistics.” Inbound logistics is concerned with procurement, warehousing, and transportation, and outbound logistics is concerned with collecting, maintaining, and delivering products to customers.
5 Tips for Choosing the Best Supply Chain Software
1. Choose software that fits your products or your industry.
Supply chain needs are different from company to company. A company that sells perishable goods needs supply chain software that can handle critical time frames. A pharmaceutical company needs to bring products from a raw stage to a finished stage and would need software that keeps the products safe throughout the process.
2. Choose software that least disrupts your current system when you migrate your data to the new system.
Besides ease of use, increased data accuracy, and increased focusing on the task at hand, SCMS is favored by more and more businesses because changes made using SCMS only affect the part of the business that needs change. Changes made with ERP software affect the entire business.
Whichever type of software one considers, it is advisable to make sure that it is compatible with the software your suppliers, vendors, and shippers have.
3. Choose software that allows one to focus on the functions that are needed.
No matter how good a software salesman’s pitch is, a business does not need software that contains extra features that have nothing to do with the needs of that particular business. Features that cannot be customized to one’s business to meet the business’s needs only confuse users and take up space. Software that allows flexibility enables increased focus on the desired activities. Strive to keep things simple.
4. Purchase software from a reliable, stable vendor.
People may think that it is rare for a software company to go out of business, but these companies do fail much more often than people think. And don’t think that contact with the vendor won’t be needed after the sale because even the best SCMS will sometimes cause its new owner to request consultation with the vendor who sold it.
The SCMS vendor one purchases software from needs to be one that will remain in business for the time period the purchased software is used. That vendor should also specialize in supply chain software.
5. Make sure the selected software is a custom fit.
Rather than taking a “one size fits all” approach, one needs to choose software that aligns with the company’s specific, measurable, actionable, realistic, and time-based goals. Budget constraints should also be considered.
The Top 6 Pieces of Supply Chain and Logistics Software
It can be daunting to find the perfect software, but it is important to find it. That is because an optimized supply chain is a profitable one and an inefficient supply chain can easily fail. An effective software put into place will make all the difference. Below you will find 6 pieces of software that you need to get a demo of.
1. Carto – SC optimization software
Location intelligence optimizes a supply chain’s design and creates a smarter and faster operation. Carto’s supply chain optimization software solves first mile problems through “spatial data science” by indicating the cheapest way to get products to demand points.
Top 3 Benefits
• Increased routing efficiency – This software analyzes historic delivery patterns and new information about speed limits, traffic, and weather as part of performing constraint-based optimization. This means that the routes chosen are the most efficient ones possible.
• Lower overall costs – The program saves its users money through decreased wear and tear on vehicles, saving time, and lowering fuel costs.
• Better customer service – Time frame estimates are more accurate, resulting in fewer missed appointments and happy customers.
2. AnyLogistix – SC optimization and logistics software
The AnyLogistix software lets you manage your supply chain with a digital twin that integrates simulation, supply chain design, and optimization with your company’s information so that you can clearly see the health of your entire organization. Simulation coupled with optimization enable decision-makers to get better insight into the actual health of the supply than can be obtained with traditional solutions.
Top 3 Benefits
• Digital twin creation capability – You can create a digital twin of your supply chain to answer what-if questions regarding trade-offs
• Design and simulate in the same tool – You can both design and simulate with this industry leading tool which uses the renowned IBM ILOG CPLEX optimization abilities.
• Model current situation – You can model the current supply chain situation.
3. Logistix Solutions – transportation optimization, distribution network design
Logistix Solutions is the leading transportation optimization software solutions and on-demand supply chain network design provider.
This company offers prospects a free supply chain optimization application which allows decision makers to see where they could make money-saving changes to their current supply chain operation. A report is given of a distribution network like the client’s and of what its optimized version would look like.
Top 3 Benefits
• Inexpensive on-demand solutions – On-demand solutions allow an operation to quickly get up and running and to do so without having to purchase an expensive enterprise software license.
• Unearths more problems – The NLP/ILP algorithms in this program bring problems to the surface that lesser logistics software would miss.
• Easy to use – The program is easy to use, which would encourage its use throughout the year for “what-if” scenario analysis.
4. Logistically TMS – transportation management software
Priced for 3PL’s, brokers, and shippers of all sizes, this company’s logistics software can maximize a company’s shipping efficiency because of its ability to leverage data and technology. Logistically specializes in helping start-up companies get their companies off the ground.
Top 3 Benefits
• It saves time – This TMS saves time making phone calls and doing other thing because of its rate shopping, dispatch, tracking, and document retrieval features.
• Eases the mind – Logistically’s software automates carrier and customer invoicing and documents
• Compatible – The software integrates with customer’s order systems
5. Infoplus Software – warehouse management
This 3PL and warehouse software streamlines integrations, warehouses, shipments, billing, and reporting. Going live with this new system can be done in as few as six weeks. The combination of great software, hardware, people and support is the formula that makes Infoplus Software the perfect way to grow a 3PL or streamline a warehouse operation.
Top 3 Benefits
• Cutting edge technology – This platform uses WMS cloud technology
• Large network – Infoplus Software is connected to more than 120 carts, carriers, and others. More than 55,000,000 packages have been shipped by companies using this technology.
• Superior support – This company boasts of having the best support team in the industry.
6. Llamasoft – Supply Chain Software
Supporting real-world supply chain design decisions and scenario testing, LLamasoft supply chain software gives innovative leaders strategic certainty for transformational growth. With LLamasoft, customers create a true end-to-end view of their supply chain and operational policies. Then, their advanced analytics reveal interconnected insights on the right changes you should make.
Top 3 Benefits
• Cutting edge technology – Their advanced analytics reveal insights on changes you should make – before you implement them
• Save clients money – Their customers have identified billions of dollars in cost reduction.
• They give back – Partnering with humanitarian organizations and government entities in Africa, they’ve designed supply chains and drone delivery of medical supplies and vaccines.