Supply chain management (SCM) modules guide

Supply chain management (SCM) software, which is made up of a variety of modules, is essential to running a smooth supply chain. In this guide, you'll find introductions to SCM system modules, including supply chain planning and execution, supply chain visibility, inventory management, demand planning, value chain, transportation and logistics, network design, event management, proof of delivery, forecasting and asset management.

Manufacturers use supply chain management systems throughout the entire production process. SCM software is at work in planning and execution, forecasting, inventory and asset management, logistics and delivery, reporting, and every stage in between. In this guide to SCM modules and software, you'll find introductions to the various components of SCM systems and learn how each module works in a manufacturing environment.

Browse all of the sections of this supply chain management system guide, or jump directly to the section that interests you most:

 

A successful manufacturing SCM strategy starts with supply chain planning software. Having the right supply chain planning software can help you build a demand management strategy and plan the production process. Supply chain planning software can keep up with changes in manufacturing and adjust daily or weekly schedules accordingly.

 

Supply chain execution software helps run day-to-day manufacturing operations. When combined with supply chain planning software, it can manage the entire supply chain, from production to shipping. You can purchase separate supply chain management systems that perform planning and execution independently or closely integrated solutions.

 

Manufacturers rely on supply chain visibility software to stay ahead of changes and problems in the supply chain. In a global manufacturing environment, supply chain visibility reduces supply chain risk by helping companies meet critical manufacturing objectives such as on-time delivery and quarterly revenue and production goals. It can also help manufacturers meet global compliance regulations.

 

Today's SCM inventory management software goes beyond simple tracking of orders, finished goods and materials. It can also optimize inventory levels and locations and tap into demand data to improve forecasts. Inventory management modules generally come in two types of suites -- inventory planning software and inventory optimization software.

 

Manufacturers use SCM demand planning software to create accurate demand forecasts. Real-time sales data and secure collaboration ensure timeliness and adaptability. Demand planning suites include demand forecasting and forecast management software, such as statistical analysis, and collaboration software, such as vendor-managed inventory (VMI) and Collaborative Planning, Forecasting, and Replenishment (CPFR).

 

Value chain is everything that needs to happen to a product within a company that adds value to it. That might include design, procurement, manufacturing and any services on or related to the product. Supply value chain software brings together the supply and demand sides of supply chain planning. Manufacturers can use this software to ensure that products acquire value at each stage of the supply chain.

 

SCM transportation and logistics management software helps manufacturers navigate global supply chains. In addition, logistics and transport management systems help users discover duplicate invoices and unnecessary charges with a freight payment audit. Vendors are adding Software as a Service (SaaS) options to make these modules simpler and more affordable.

 

Manufacturers can locate and analyze their suppliers, customers and transportation options using supply chain network design software. Its primary use is to create a business map of a company's global supply chain network. Network design functionality can also help with supply chain optimization by pinpointing where suppliers and customers are located, where major transportation lanes are and how products will get to market.

 

With supply chain event management software, manufacturers are able to identify and react quickly to changes in the supply chain. Adapting to unexpected supply chain events is critical to survival in global markets. If a supply chain event doesn't happen on schedule -- say a shipment doesn't make its destination -- it can affect the manufacturing process in small and large ways, including actually stopping production.

 

Guaranteeing that products reach the right customers is a critical need for all manufacturers. SCM proof of delivery software helps manufacturers meet this need from the delivery of final products through customer payment collection. Shipping confirmations, automated customer payments and optimized shipping routes are just a few of the benefits of proof of delivery modules.

 

Supply chain forecasting software is another important SCM module. With it, manufacturers can use algorithms to create a forward demand plan. SCM forecasting software also gives a company a view of possible scenarios and provides options for handling specific situations and resulting outcomes. Forecast planning is typically bundled in with other capabilities, often in a demand planning system.

 

SCM asset management software helps manufacturers keep track of physical pieces of equipment inside manufacturing facilities. It is even more powerful when combined with other types of asset management software, such as mobile asset management, used for tracking shipping containers and boxes, and enterprise asset management, used for tracking capital assets.

 

Manufacturers can use supply chain reporting software to create an in-depth analysis of their companies. This module looks at a manufacturer's supply chain history and estimates future production needs. A manufacturer might look at cutting back production, or eliminating a particular supplier, and use the software to measure impact. Integration with business intelligence data creates an even more comprehensive picture.

This was first published in January 2010

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