A recent analysis of supply chain professionals in a variety of industries and business sizes, business software consulting firm Software Advice discovered a staggering 34% of them still rely on manual methods and legacy systems for their supply chain management (SCM) needs.
Software Buyers’ Current Solutions for Supply Chain Management
If your wholesale business only has a handful of suppliers, distribution channels, and team members, you may be able to get away with time-consuming pen and paper or clunky spreadsheet methods.
But as your business continues to grow, the limitations of these manual methods will quickly become a pain, standing in the way of the efficiency you’ll need to expand.
That’s where modern SCM software comes in.
Reasons Your Current SCM Solution Needs Replacement
As your customer demand begins to overwhelm your current supply chain systems, it can be incredibly tempting to implement quick-fixes to keep up without investing the time into finding a proper SCM solution – one that’s easy to implement and able to support the continued growth of your business.
Whether you’re stuck using manual systems or outdated SCM software, a few key reasons you’ll want to consider upgrading include:
It’s Too Much
Perhaps your current SCM solution works well for you, with all the bells, whistles and features you need.
But was your company sold on a fancy system overloaded with features you’re never going to use?
If that’s the case, finding new SCM software that more exactly meets your needs presents a great opportunity to streamline your operations and lower your IT and management costs.
It’s Not Enough
Perhaps your current SCM solution isn’t enough – either you’re using manual methods like spreadsheets or relying on outdated software.
You might even have a modern platform that’s worked so far – top business apps like Shopify and Xero usually contain modules to support inventory and warehouse management.
But often these types of systems work well until your business reaches a certain size, after which they continue to cause headaches and inefficiencies as you struggle to keep up with increasing demand.
In this case, switching to modern, specialized SCM software can save plenty of time and money – both now and as you continue to grow.
Its Support is Lacking
The best supply chain management software in the world is useless if it’s constantly breaking or hard to maintain.
And with the ever-expanding number of highly useful business management applications, being able to properly integrate and tailor SCM systems to your business’ needs is crucial to staying competitive.
That’s why highly-skilled, quick-responding customer support is an essential part of the best SCM software.
How the Right SCM Software Can Improve Your Business
Software Advice also found that the key factor driving the switch to a new SCM solution was modernization, meaning two things:
- Increased automation of business processes
- Closer integration of business systems
Software Buyers’ Pain Points With Existing Solutions
Automation may be the buzzword of the day in the supply chain management world, but that’s for good reason – being able to quickly and efficiently manage your production from component purchasing to sale fulfillment can make or break a growing wholesale business.
Too often businesses rely on inefficient practices like manually syncing supplier invoices from their ordering system to their accounting system – which not only leads to overspending on labor but also increases the risk of costly errors.
Automating these repetitive tasks to save time and reduce errors is a key benefit of modern supply chain management software.
With the increasing move to software-based business systems, integrating everything from sales portals to fulfillment systems, production lines to accounting software is key to maintaining your business’ ability to expand.
Because these business systems are often managed by individual applications, the ability to glue them all together and manage everything from one easy-to-use platform is an important feature to look for in new SCM software.
Ultimately, the goal of upgrading to modern, fully automated, completely integrated supply chain management software is to support the growth of your wholesale business – both now and in the future.
A growing business is a great problem to have – but it comes with its share of headaches and challenges.
In many cases, growth means adding more warehouses, vehicles, and production lines to your business, all of which can quickly overwhelm your current solutions which until now have been able to handle a single warehouse or small fleet.
This means more growing businesses are starting to tie their continued expansion to improving their IT infrastructure.
If you’re actively focusing on growth, investing in improving your IT systems (including industry-leading supply chain management software) can add the scalability and flexibility you’ll need to support it.
Which is why cloud-based SCM systems are becoming more and more popular as they’re typically well supported, consistently updated, and offer flexible pricing based on your business size and needs.
Questions to Ask When Choosing New SCM Software
So how do you know which SCM software system is right for your wholesale business?
Ask yourself these three questions as you begin your search:
- What do we need it for?
- How compatible is it with our business?
- How reliable is the vendor?
What do we need it for?
The first and most important question to ask yourself when choosing the right supply chain management software is “What will I be using the software for?”
As you’re well aware, supply chain management is a complex process with different factors and needs depending on the particular demands of your business and industry, ranging from planning and strategy to manufacturing and logistics.
As a result, SCM software tends to fall into two categories:
- Software applications designed to automate the planning and organizing aspects of SCM, including choosing the best carriers and means of transportation, providing an overview of the supply chain, and mapping out production processes.
- Software applications designed to automate the execution of SCM related tasks, like determining product price and availability or alternate product logistics, and ensuring raw materials and components are available when and where they’re needed.
So take some time to consider the unique needs and goals of your business by asking yourself questions such as:
- What are my business objectives?
- Do I want an SCM solution that handles a specific task or one that covers all my basic SCM needs?
- Do I need to choose software that’s compatible with my existing SCM software and those of my suppliers and partners?
- What are my current bottlenecks and where could my company benefit most from automation?
Once you’ve answered these questions you’ll be able to more accurately evaluate which of the many available SCM applications is best for accomplishing your supply chain management goals.
How compatible is it with our business?
Next, you’ll want to consider how compatible your new SCM software options are with your existing software and business processes – including related activities like sales and accounting.
This can be a huge issue of resistance for many companies as employees are accustomed to doing things a certain way, and choosing software that requires a complete overhaul of your existing systems can be a costly investment.
So you’ll not only want to ensure your new supply chain management software truly makes your employees’ jobs easier, but will also be easy to retrain on and integrate with your business.
To that last point, all new software implementations will have challenges, which is why you’ll also want to ensure the vendor you choose has a highly qualified support staff to help you quickly resolve any issues as they arise.
How reliable is the vendor?
The final question you’ll want to ask when choosing an SCM software solution is “how reliable is the vendor?”
In this case, reliability essentially means two things:
- The company has been around for a while and will continue to be around.
- They offer the support you’ll need to implement, maintain, and upgrade the software as it improves and your business grows.
When it comes to B2B software as a whole, finding reliable, service-oriented vendors is a must to prevent costly downtime due to malfunctions.
And because supply chain software is such an integral part of your business, it’s especially important that your chosen vendor offers best in class support.
As a general rule, the longer a provider has been around, the more established they are in terms of clientele, and the size of their reach (local/national/global) are all important factors when considering your supply chain software vendor.
And whichever provider you choose, you should always have a “Plan B” backup in the unfortunate event that they close their doors.
When evaluating your top choices, be sure to find reviews from reputable sources and consider a few of the following questions:
- Is the company willing to modify the software when needed?
- Do they provide source code and documentation?
- What kind of personnel and resources are required to operate the software?
- Is the software user-friendly? How big is the learning curve?
Grow Your Business with the Right SCM Software
Hopefully now you’re better prepared to choose the right new SCM software for your wholesale business – including a better understanding of why it’s a worthwhile investment and essential questions to consider when choosing an SCM software solution.
Many businesses today are paralyzed by clunky, out-of-date SCM management systems, whether it’s legacy software that hasn’t been updated in years, or a painfully manual pen and paper or spreadsheet-based system.
The latest SCM software solutions can help you keep up with demand and prepare for future growth by streamlining your backend processes through integration and automation.
And when you partner with the right vendor, supply chain software can reduce your headaches and keep you competitive for years to come.
According to research from GetApp Lab, 55% of businesses are saving more than 5 hours a week with SCM software – so now’s the time to make the switch!
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