Our previous post began exploring the seven key traits to look for in a SCM partner. It included the first four. Here are three more attributes you want a SCM software partner to have:
5. Ability to implement quickly. For manufacturers and distributors, it’s a competitive marketplace out there. New rivals continue to spring up around the globe. No matter what you’re doing, someone else halfway around the world is offering to do it just as well, only a little faster and cheaper.
In an environment like this, can you really afford to wait through a months-long implementation process for your SCM solution? The longer you wait to go live, the greater the chance your market and business will have changed dramatically in the meantime. In addition, long, complex implementations come with greater risk. If a system takes six months to go live, then it’s probably built on rigid, outdated technology that requires heavy integration with other enterprise systems. If the implementation team gets one step wrong, the whole project can fail, leaving you with nothing to show for your investment.
6. Small, agile development teams. Have you heard about agile development? It’s all the rage these days, and for good reason. It involves using small, flexible teams to tackle large projects in bite-sized chunks, while adapting to change along the way. Oh, and all the meetings are “standing” meetings, meaning they’re purposely kept as short as possible.
Look for an SCM partner that focuses on doing more with fewer people. For one thing, that’s a sign you’re getting a platform that’s not needlessly complex. For another thing, a smaller development team requires greater accountability from each of its members. As you work with your partner, you’ll be able to get better, faster answers from their technicians throughout the implementation process. And an agile development team will be more likely to adapt its processes and technology to fit your business needs—in stark contrast to a massive development team that’s used to doing things one way and only one way.
7. A focus on helping companies grow. The best SCM providers don’t just build, sell and implement software. They stay involved with their customers throughout the relationship, trying to gain an understanding of their business goals so they can help them achieve sustainable, profitable growth. This trait isn’t something you can really quantify — it’s something you’ll perceive in your conversations with their sales representatives and technology experts. If the company’s team mainly wants to talk about their SCM platform and all the fancy features it delivers, they’re probably not a good fit. But if they’re more interested in learning about your company than in telling you about theirs, you may have found a good partner.
There’s more to selecting an SCM partner than what we’ve described in this two-part blog series, but I think the seven traits included here should give you a good start on choosing your partner.
To learn more about the value of using appropriate software solutions, read Demand Management President Bill Harrison's DS Blog post, "Five Reasons Why S&OP Software Beats Spreadsheets and Email."
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.