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Key SCM Features to Look For (And Major Players to Look Out For)

Written By: Khudsiya Quadri
Published On: June 30 2009

Many CFOs, CTOs, supply chain managers, and logistics managers struggle to decide which supply chain management (SCM) software is best-suited to their organizational needs. It doesn’t help that there is an abundance (literally hundreds) of SCM solutions available on the market. Today, I’ll help you understand key SCM modules, and look at some key players with well established SCM solutions.

Key SCM Features
The core purpose of any SCM solution is to create a flawless avenue for materials or products to be managed in the most efficient way possible, and moved at the fastest rate. This improves planning, execution, and collaboration with respect to material, information, financials, and workforce. SCM solutions have a comprehensive set of modules and features for front-to-back support on supply chain business processes.

Below are some key SCM features you should look for:

  • Demand planning and forecasting: Provides built-in planning, execution, and analysis with forecast and supply data for detailed production schedules, for supporting lean manufacturing methodologies, and for streamlining the procurement process of sourcing and buying throughout the entire supply chain network. Also provides global visibility at all levels of the supply chain.



  • Procurement: Streamlines all activities associated with supplier sourcing, price negotiation (at the component level or by assembled product), receiving, verification of shipments, and payables.



  • Inventory management: Provides algorithms for optimum stock levels from raw material to finished goods as well spare parts (if needed), giving maximum capacity for storage of goods, and minimizing the cost of handling. Also integrates with customer and purchase orders, with real-time visibility into backlogged orders.



  • Order processing: Automates customer quotes and order processing, which helps with workflows and alerts so that proper inventory levels are maintained at distribution centers or production facilities for delivery, in turn ensuring that there is no overstocking or delay in order delivery



  • Supply chain collaboration: Helps products and information flow seamlessly between supplier, manufacturer, distributor, and customer, both upstream and downstream. As well, financial information is shared between all involved parties.



  • Logistics: Provides rule-based picking logic and material handling for improved warehousing and coordination of transportation of goods and material with suppliers, vendors, and customers for improved on-time delivery.



  • Returns: Makes sure all material coming back under warranty or non-warranty conditions are inspected and placed back in the process; also enables customers to get credit for the product returns. Other benefits: promotes collaboration between supplier and product development teams, and integrates with product lifecycle management (PLM) for better product development.



  • Operational insight: Provides real-time metrics for inventory, purchase, customer, and production orders. Also provides the ability to electronically transmit shipping documents (e.g., bills of lading, manifest, etc.). Assures automatic traceability of products or materials from source to destination, regardless of whether they are inbound or outbound. Provides capability for viewing resources (both available and dedicated).



  • Architecture and technology: Service-oriented architecture (SOA) and Web 2.0 are key for collaboration and visibility. Combination of radio frequency identification (RFID) with global positioning system (GPS) functionality for tag usage and to enable organizations to reroute shipments in cases of order changes.


Top-ranking SCM Vendors

As there are many SCM software vendors in the market, I have decided to focus on a selected few midsize vendors that provide SCM functionality contained in a core SCM module or that provide a wide array of SCM functionality within an enterprise resource planning (ERP) application. All the vendors below can be considered best-of-breed SCM applications. There are many tier-1 and tier-2 vendors not listed below, but can be researched and evaluated according to your functional and business process requirements at http://scm.technologyevaluation.com/.

Consona
Consona has a variety of SCM software product suites according to industry and need. All of Consona’s products are developed with years of industry expertise, knowledge, and experience. Consona software products are constantly revamped to meet customer requirements.

Consona products are easy to navigate and use, and provide strong security features and alterable views. Plus, all functionality within the product suite is designed and configured to make the user experience enriched rather than unmanageable. All products have local and global representation as well as multilanguage and multicurrency capabilities.

Organizations with multiple industry verticals face challenges in selecting the appropriate Consona product, as most of the Consona products are industry- or vertical-focused. Of course, organizations can have two different modules running at the same time from the provider, but it’s just better when everything is in one package for visibility and communication purposes.
Consona Supply Chain Products

Intuitive: Developed with the requirements of small to midsized manufacturing companies in mind, this application suite offers functionality for a variety of industries, ranging from aviation to electronics and more. Intuitive ERP is designed for discrete manufacturers operating a make-to-stock, make-to-order, configure-to-order, and assemble-to-order, engineer-to-order, and contract or repetitive manufacturing environments. Detailed module and functionality information at http://vs.technologyevaluation.com/software/46-383-idealprofile/Discrete-Manufacturing-ERP/Consona-Intuitive-ERP/ideal_customer.html.

Made2Manage SCM: Part of the Made2Manage ERP solution, the SCM module provides effective management of supply chain processes by synchronizing product demand with production capacity, optimizing assets and workforce usage while maximizing throughput.The Made2Manage ERP solution has been developed with the requirements of multiple-site supply chain in mind. Further information on modules and depth of functionality can be accessed at http://vs.technologyevaluation.com/software/263-15121-idealprofile/Engineer-to-Order-ETO-ERP/Consona-Made2Manage/ideal_customer.html.

Encompix: Specifically designed and developed for organizations manufacturing complex products on tight timelines and strict budgets. Encompix is not traditional ERP software by any means. It provides engineer-to-order, project-based manufacturing, and make-to-order manufacturing capabilities. As many organizations have a primary ERP system, Encompix can help them in non-traditional ERP areas. Detailed information on functionality can be reviewed at http://vs.technologyevaluation.com/software/263-14539-idealprofile/Engineer-to-Order-ETO-ERP/Consona-Encompix/ideal_customer.html.

AXIOM APS: Exclusively designed for metals and the wire and cable industry, the AXIOM product is designed for process and discrete manufacturers. The AXIOM product accommodates the transformation of material (e.g., melting, casting, rolling, forging, drawing, annealing, slitting, extruding stranding, or cabling). AXIOM APS has modules for finite capacity scheduling, capable-to-promise, and what-if analysis. This module can sit alongside an existing ERP system. See http://vs.technologyevaluation.com/software/368-17782/ERP-for-Mill-based-and-Material-Converting-Environments/Consona-AXIOM.html.

RedPrairie

RedPrairie provides rich supply chain solutions for supply chain execution, store management, logistics, and warehouse management. RedPrairie’s main goal is to provide customers with visibility and control in all parts of the supply chain. RedPrairie has a multidimensional solution operational with abundance of functionality regardless of industry. RedPrairie has been developing on SOA to provide flexibility and visibility, just not within the organization but outside the walls of the organization as well. RedPrairie’s E2e solution synchronizes human workforce and product throughput within the supply chain to make sure the right product reaches the right place at the right time in the right quantity.

RedPrairie has a solid hold on supply chain main functions. The only areas the solution faces challenges in are the areas of international trade logistics (ITL) compliance and contract management/payment processes.
RedPrairie Supply Chain Products

RedPrairie’s E2e™ suite of Supply Chain Management: RedPrairie divides the Supply Chain management suite into functional groups based on the movement, storage, people, and process components common to supply networks. The modules within the E2e suite: Transportation Management, Warehouse Management, Workforce Management, Labor Management, and Business Process Integration. This product delivers functionality to optimize each and every node of the supply chain. E2e provides visibility and control capabilities needed to synchronize the entire supply chain network. Detailed comparison and vendor information at http://vs.technologyevaluation.com/browse/624-23157/Supply-Chain-Management-SCM/RedPrairie-Corporation-E2e.html.

Logility

Logility provides a solution which is classified as a best-of-breed supply chain solution for small, midsized, and large organizations. Its integrated software suite provides organizations with supply chain management functionality such as collaborative planning, strategic network design, optimized supply sourcing, production management, warehouse management, and collaborative logistics services features.

Also, the vendor offers demand solutions for multi tiered planning, and replenishment systems for vendor-managed inventory (VMI). Logility primarily focuses on distribution-intensive industries, such as wholesale distribution, apparel, consumer products, food and beverage, service parts after sales, and manufacturing. Logility can provide real-time measurements and controls. Alerts and metrics are set up per user roles to manage key supply chain issues as they occur or as they are due to occur.

Logility has a wide spread of collaborative planning strategic tools within its solution, but these cannot be used effectively without some kind of support/training for collaborative planning, forecasting, and replenishment (CPFR) initiatives. For collaborative planning and CPFR to be successful at the organizational level, the users of the solution need a different way of thinking that involves building trust and having open means of communication with the external parties involved.
Logility Supply Chain Products

Logility’s Voyager Supply Chain Planning solution offers functionality for optimizing sourcing, load cost in transportation, and supply chain visibility through collaboration. It also provides the visibility and automation most customers require to plan, supply, schedule, manufacture, store, transport, and track supply chain activities in distribution-intensive industries. The main modules in Logility Voyager Supply Chain Planning are Performance Management, Value Chain Collaboration, Demand Chain Planning, Global Sourcing Management, Supply Chain Planning, Transportation, and Logistics Management. Further information at http://vs.technologyevaluation.com/browse/624-23203/Supply-Chain-Management-SCM/Logility-Logility-Voyager-Solutions-Warehouse-PRO.html.

There are other top-rated vendors for SCM software, including SAP, Oracle, Microsoft, Infor, JDA Software, and i2 Technologies. They can be compared and further researched at TEC’s SCM Evaluation Center.
 
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