Four ERP Differentiators to Consider
One of the key reasons many companies implement ERP and supply chain management software is because it provides more transparency to far-flung global operations. In today's evolving economy, it is even more critical for companies to effectively manage and adjust their supply chains to ensure rapid changes are met with rapid responses. ERP and supply chain management software can help, but there are a number of options on the market — and a number of differentiating factors between the leading enterprise software systems.
Following are four variables to consider during the evaluation process:
Robust demand planning and forecasting. Companies can have the most effective procurement and transportation processes in the world, but it doesn't matter if they aren't forecasting the right volume and timing of the product being purchased. Not all ERP or enterprise software solutions can handle complex planning and forecasting without some type of third-party bolt-on, so it is important to carefully evaluate the planning capabilities of any prospective software vendors.
Streamlined procurement processes. Most of our clients work with high volumes of contract manufacturers outside their home countries, which adds to the potential complexity and need for transparency in the procurement process. When evaluating potential software vendors, it is important to understand the ability to automatically create purchase orders based on projections, streamline the transmittal of orders to vendors, and access PO statuses in real-time.
Integrated transportation management and logistics. When outsourcing manufacturing overseas, it can be difficult to manage lead times and keep tabs on shipments. Whether your company's products are in containers on the water, in transit via a domestic freight carrier or sitting on the dock at your vendor's warehouse, it is critical to know exactly where products are at every point in the supply chain.
Advanced pick, pack and ship warehouse management system (WMS) functionality. Once the products are in the warehouse, it is important to have efficient processes to pick, pack and ship orders to your customers. Software solutions handle inventory management and order processing functions very differently, so it is vital to find the right fit for your warehouse management needs.
These four areas are incredibly important to evaluate as part of the software selection process as they tend to be key competitive advantages for successful companies and differentiators between potential supply chain management solutions. Bringing these factors to bear will help focus the evaluation process and ensure you hone in on the most important differentiators of your industry and your business.
Three Best Practices for an ERP Initiative
Once a company has chosen and purchased ERP software, it must incorporate best practices into the initiative to produce top results. Here are three tips towards achieving that goal:
Focus on measurable business improvements, efficiencies and non-value-added activities. Every company is different, and most companies have unique competitive advantages. Some are extremely customer-oriented, while others contain costs via efficient supply chain management processes. The key is to identify and measure both the areas that are most important to your business and the areas that will benefit the most from ERP. Once these have been detailed, it is easier to identify potential ERP systems that will provide more efficient or effective business processes to support your operations.
Leverage benchmarks and data to drive improvements. Exceptional third-party consultants will bring a broad view of the ERP space, keen insight into your industry vertical, supporting data and best practices from other clients to the table. Be leery of consultants or software vendors that have a one-size-fits-all, "canned" best-practice solution.