To the layman, it would seem that if you want supply chain management (SCM) software, you should simply evaluate the options on the market, pick the one that gives you the most functionality for the price, and implement.
Unfortunately, it’s not that simple, is it? When you consider that managing a supply chain is a decades-long journey that requires constant adaptation and improvement, choosing SCM software is a little like choosing a spouse.
As such, you’ll want to consider more than just the features you’re getting — you’ll also want to forge a relationship with a software provider that’s a proven thought leader in helping companies achieve sustainable, profitable growth by running their supply chains more efficiently.
We’ll be sharing seven key traits to look for in a potential SCM partner. Here are the first four, with three more coming next week. The SCM software partner you want:
1. Understands midsized companies. Large manufacturers and distributors wrestle with the challenge of shaving pennies of cost off each process while doing business on a global scale. Small companies are often more focused on building a foundation for rapid growth. What about midsized companies? You’re dealing with all of the above — and more. You need flexibility in your SCM solutions. More importantly, you need an SCM provider that understands best practices and proven business processes for midsized companies as well as startups and enterprise-level corporations.
2. Offers scalable technology. Once you’ve made the decision to implement an SCM platform and have rolled it out to your workforce around the world, do you really want to have to repeat that process in five years? You can avoid this by selecting an SCM solution that will grow with your company. Evaluate any potential solution carefully to determine whether it’s built on technology that’s designed to scale as a company grows from, say, $100 million to $800 million in volume within a few years. And ask your potential partner how many customers have been with them for at least 10 years. A partner that can keep meeting the needs of manufacturers or distributors for that long must be good at adapting to the needs of a changing marketplace.
3. Offers local support. If you’ve selected an SCM platform from a company that only offers phone support from its faraway headquarters, you’ll have to spend a lot of time describing your needs and getting them on the same page with you. They may not even be open during the same hours you are, and they probably won’t understand your local market very well. But if your partner can quickly deploy service and support personnel who work in your area, you’ll benefit from getting prompt answers to your questions and speedy resolutions to any technical challenges. You’ll be much more likely to form a partnership in which your feedback and feature suggestions are taken seriously and incorporated into future releases of the product.
4. Is stable. Even the greatest SCM platform in the world isn’t going to look so great if the vendor goes out of business, leaving you with no support, no upgrade path, and no strategic partner for supply chain efficiency. Most brand-new software vendors fail within the first five years. Can you risk investing in an SCM platform from a company that may not survive?
These are the first four traits to look for in an SCM partner. We’ll share three more in our next blog post.
In the mean time, read Demand Management President Bill Harrison's DS Blog post, "Five Reasons Why S&OP Software Beats Spreadsheets and Email," to learn more about the value of using the most appropriate software solutions.
Jeff Bower is the Northwest Principal for Demand Management, Inc. Within this role, he ranges from Northern California to Alaska. He has nearly 22 years’ experience with Demand Solutions supply chain management software.