In today’s fast-paced business environment, selecting the right supply chain software has become increasingly crucial for organisations to stay competitive and achieve success in their supply chain operations.
Supply chain software can help businesses streamline their operations, enhance collaboration with suppliers, improve inventory management, reduce costs, and improve overall efficiency. By selecting the right software solution, businesses can gain valuable insights into their supply chain performance, optimise their operations, and ultimately drive growth and success. On the other hand, selecting the wrong software solution can lead to inefficiencies, lost time and money, and decreased competitiveness in the market.
The process of evaluating supply chain software functionality involves assessing its features and capabilities, considering future needs, and comparing different software options. By conducting a comprehensive functionality assessment, businesses can confidently select the right supply chain software that streamlines their operations, enhances collaboration with suppliers, and ultimately drives business success.
In this article, we will explore the key considerations and steps involved in evaluating supply chain software functionality to help you make an informed decision.
Defining Supply Chain Software
The terminology “supply chain software” is widely open to interpretation, as is the nature and diversity of the modern supply chain discipline and the roles within it. It’s also influenced by the company and market-specific factors – confounding the complexity further.
At the most basic, or conceptual level, supply chain software is designed to help companies manage their supply chain operations.
However, as we delve into what constitutes “supply chain operations,” this can then expand to include tasks such as procurement, production planning, logistics, and inventory management.
Supply chain software should provide a central platform for tracking and coordinating all aspects of the supply chain, enabling companies to optimise their operations and increase efficiency. The reality is that the diversity of the functions within the supply chain operation means that this isn’t quite as simple as a singular piece of software to rule them all. From our perspective, “supply chain software” should be considered a collection of interoperable tools, rather than either an all-in-one, Enterprise Resource Planning (ERP) system or a financial platform that isn’t designed specifically for supply chain operations nor strategic supplier management but is often attempting to be customised beyond its original purpose.
It’s also much more overwhelming to assume a wholesale change, a transformation rather than evolution – as many companies will already have some software in place. We believe that a technology stack that integrates the various, specialist, function-based software allows each user, department, project or division to do their work more effectively.
The Functions of Supply Chain Software
As you embark on the search for “supply chain software” it’s useful to list the varying terminologies, sub-categories, functions and features this may encompass. This isn’t an exhaustive list but covers the main seven types of software and the operational functions the software typically supports. There is inevitably some crossover in the functionality provided between the software types and sometimes the differences are nuanced and sematic, but when considered holistically, the different parts form the contemporary supply chain software “tech stack” or “suite.”
- Supply chain data/visibility software: helps companies monitor their supply chain operations in terms of supplier profiles, compliance, accreditations and contracts.
- Production planning and scheduling software: helps companies plan and schedule their production processes, including resource allocation and capacity planning.
- Procurement / Finance software: helps companies manage the purchasing process, including sourcing, contract management, and supplier relationship management (including spend/finance tracking.) Sometimes this includes purchase order management and invoice management.
- Warehouse & Inventory management software: helps companies manage their warehouses, including receiving, storing, and shipping goods. This software may also manage inventory levels, including stock optimization and real-time tracking.
- Transportation / Logistics management software: helps companies manage the transportation of goods, including route planning, delivery scheduling, shipping, and tracking.
- Sustainability software: helps companies track and manage their sustainability goals, including reducing waste and emissions, and increasing resource efficiency.
- Supplier Relationship Management software: helps organizations manage their interactions and transactions with suppliers. SRM software typically includes features such as supplier registration, sourcing and contract management, and supplier performance tracking and evaluation against KPI’s.
Seven Steps to Supply Chain Software Success
Evaluating the functionality of supply chain software is a critical process that involves assessing its features and capabilities to ensure it meets the specific needs and requirements of the business.
Here are seven steps for conducting a functionality assessment for supply chain software:
- Identify Business Requirements: Define the specific tasks and processes that the software needs to support, and create a list of must-haves and desirable features.
- Research Available Options: Evaluate different software options to determine which ones have the required functionality.
- Evaluate Demonstrations: Request demonstrations of the software from vendors to see the software in action and assess its functionality.
- Test Drive the Software: Take advantage of any trial or free versions of the software to test drive it and validate its functionality.
- Seek Feedback: Obtain feedback from employees, stakeholders, and other businesses who have used the software to gauge its functionality.
- Compare and Contrast: Compare the functionality of the different software options to determine the best fit for the business needs.
- Consider Future Needs: Consider the future needs of the business, such as scalability and growth, to ensure that the software can accommodate them.
By conducting a comprehensive functionality assessment, businesses can ensure that they choose the right supply chain software that meets their current and future needs.
The Supply Chain Software 10-Point Assessment
Selecting the right supply chain software is a critical decision for any business, as it can have a significant impact on the efficiency and effectiveness of your supply chain operations. Even with the above considerations checklist, it can still be overwhelming to determine which one is the best suited to your challenge.
That’s why we’ve created a 10-point assessment to help you evaluate supply chain software solutions effectively. This assessment covers key factors such as functionality, usability, scalability, security, and support, among others. By using this assessment, you can confidently select a supply chain software solution that aligns with your organisation’s needs, goals, and budget, and ultimately achieve success in your supply chain operations.
- Functionality: The functionality assessment for supply chain software involves evaluating the features and capabilities of the software to determine if it meets the specific needs and requirements of the business. The first, and most difficult step in this process is to identify the business requirements. Define the specific departments, stakeholders, tasks and processes that the software needs to support, and create a hierarchical list of must-haves and desirable features.
- Integration: The software should integrate seamlessly with other existing systems and tools.
- Scalability: The software should be able to accommodate the growing needs of the business.
- User Experience: The software should be user-friendly, with a simple and intuitive interface.
- Security: The software should provide adequate security measures to protect sensitive business data.
- Cost: The cost of the software, including any recurring fees, should be affordable and within budget.
- Support: The software vendor should provide reliable and accessible customer support.
- Mobility: The software should be accessible from various devices and locations, if necessary.
- Customisation: The software should be customisable to fit the specific needs of the business.
- Data Management: The software should provide effective and efficient data management capabilities.
Ready to Start?
Selecting the right supply chain software is critical for any business to drive operational efficiency, improve collaboration with suppliers, and achieve success in their supply chain operations.
Choosing the right supply chain software solution can be overwhelming, but with careful evaluation and consideration of the above factors, you can find a software solution that aligns with your needs, goals, and budget.
If you’re ready to start the process of evaluating and selecting the right supply chain software solution for your business, SourceDogg is here to help.
Our platform is designed to streamline your operations, enhance collaboration with suppliers, and provide real-time visibility and insights into your supply chain performance. With customisable modules and robust data management capabilities, SourceDogg is the perfect solution for supply chain managers looking to optimise their supplier management.