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What is supply chain management software?
Supply chain management software helps automate the flow of raw materials from collection through production, and on to delivery. Supply chain management applications typically include organization-wide order processing, transportation, and warehouse management functionality, along with planning and forecasting tools. Supply chain management software improves operational efficiency both upstream and downstream by distributing and synchronizing key data across multiple locations and throughout a business.
The benefits of supply chain management software
- Efficient parts management: Supply chain software makes it easier to track and schedule parts for just-in-time delivery at your business' production plant.
- Supply chain forecasting: Some supply chain management software includes predictive artificial intelligence (AI) that can warn users about potential supply chain hiccups before they happen.
- Supplier management: Supply chain management software uses dedicated supplier data categories. These tools track and rate supplier cost, value, and reliability. Companies can use these quantifiable metrics to make informed business decisions.
Typical features of supply chain management software
- Supplier management: Monitor supplier performance through tracked key performance indicators (KPIs), and assess risk and compliance.
- Inventory management: Track, order, store, and consume inventory, including raw materials, components, and finished products.
- Warehouse management: Control and administer warehouse operations throughout the storage lifecycle.
- Order management: Input, organize, track, and fulfill purchase requests.
- Sales and operations planning: Build a supply and demand plan.
- Demand planning: Use historical insights and simulations to forecast customer demand.
The supply chain management software directory lets you filter by feature(s) to only view options that meet your business needs, which can help narrow your software shortlist.
Considerations when purchasing supply chain management software
- Scalability: When choosing the right supply chain management solution for your business, make sure your software can scale with you. Consider the number of users you will need, the customization potential, deployability across different devices, and other factors that affect solution usability as your business grows.
- Forecasting: Some applications forecast parts supply and demand, among other variables. This developing technology is steadily becoming available to businesses of all sizes. Forecasting currently offers a competitive edge and, in time, will be a competitive necessity.
Relevant supply chain management software trends
- 3D printing: Also referenced as additive manufacturing, 3D printing creates component parts by joining/layering various materials together as directed by a computer. 3D printing generates less waste than traditional manufacturing processes that cut objects from large blocks of raw materials. Businesses that use 3D printing can save on costs associated with unused materials, scrap collection, waste disposal, and recycling. Switching to 3D-printed parts saves money while reducing environmental impact, and often requires significant changes in a supply chain. Expect to see many companies reevaluating their supply chain management software solutions in this coming years; our research suggests that 54% of small and midsize businesses (SMBs) plan to use 3D printing in the next one to two years.
- Internet of things: The internet of things (IoT) describes a technology ecosystem where objects are connected to the internet for all manner of tracking and automation purposes. Our research found 73% of SMBs plan to incorporate IoT technology into their businesses within the next one to two years. One way supply chain managers are embracing IoT tech is by adding radio frequency identification (RFID) chips to parts and inventory. Robots, belts, scanners, and other IoT devices use RFID to locate, move, and process components. RFID systems produce incredible amounts of data which, when analyzed, can help businesses understand their operations and customer behavior better than ever before. This knowledge can lead to better supply chain decisions, increased efficiency, and higher profits.