With the rapid digital transformation taking place post-COVID-19, supply chain management has been significantly transforming trade and commerce all over the world. With the introduction of digital marketing and various tools, supply chain strategy has now become a piece of cake for business entities.
Starting from storage of raw materials to good products and finally delivery, supply chain management holds responsibility for seamless business operations. Supply chain management ensures flow efficiency with the scope for the business to minimise the cost of production overall.
Using different supply chain management tools would reduce inefficiencies. In this article, let's learn about different supply chain management tools and learn how significantly it helps with the current supply chain strategy.
Types of Supply Chains
Supply chains are considered to be the lifebloods of various industries around the world. They all require different strategies to work. There are numerous models of supply chains that businesses use, and here are some popular models of those. They are:
Continuous Replenishment: In this model, the strategy is straightforward and focuses on constant replenishment of inventory with tight coordination with their suppliers. This model is not very risky and integrates the production procedure efficiently while keeping peerless demands that forecast upon the constant flow of real information.
Build-to-order: This supply chain primarily focuses on constructing the order as soon as the consumer places it. This strategy is commonly used by Dell by making customisable PCs ready for shipping once the specifications were decided.
Channel Assembly: This supply chain strategy incorporates third-party logistics or 3PL. In this case, partners help in building a product piece by piece and travel it down to various distribution channels. Once the order comes across different supply channels, they are finally shipped together by the 3PL.
Factors for Choosing the Right Supply Chain Management Tools
Some factors are responsible for making a correct decision in choosing the right supply chain management tool. Let's check those needs out.
Requirements: Since different supply chain management tools come with different distinct features, the correct one must be chosen based on their requirements. This would help in creating the desired impact on one's business. One can opt for using the trial version of the tool before getting familiar with it and see if the ends are meeting their needs to further go for a subscription.
Reliability: This is another important prospect that should be kept in mind for choosing the correct supply chain management tools. The success of the enterprise strongly depends on how the products or services satisfy the customers. Hence, before one purchases the tool, it is pivotal that the vendor has a good reputation. One can read the reviews online and then make an informed decision.
Data Insights: This might not be a very popular factor, however, knowing about data insights from using supply chain management tools play a major role as well. Utilising artificial intelligence and machine learning tools for supply chains will help in understanding the trends and patterns of supply chain management. It would also help in achieving an accurate product demand forecast and updating the inventory accordingly.
Interface: This supply chain management factor is bound for software tools used in inventory management. Building a user-friendly interface would help immensely in decreasing the search time. Software must be user-friendly so that the supply chain can easily access various branches of data visualisation, network scheduling and warehouse management. However, before buying the software, make sure to take a demo.
5 Tools and Technologies in Supply Chain Management
Supply chain management incorporates specific tools that not only facilitate seamless shipping and inventory but also other important factors. Here we have listed some of the most popular tools and technologies used in supply chain management. Let's see what they are.
Shipping Status Tools
This tool is a simple and robust way for keeping track of one's shipments. This tool helps in providing powerful updates regarding shipment progress. One can get to know about the details when the shipments are completed, or whether the estimated delivery time has changed or not.
Order Processing Tools
Starting from billing to order fulfilment, there are plenty of areas one might have to keep a track of. This is where this tool comes in handy. This tool is enabled to track orders, from billing to delivery and also helps to keep on top of all the orders.
Lean Inventory Tools
This tool is pivotal for feasible inventory management. This tool helps in preventing the production of excess goods and only produces them when necessary. Lean inventory moderates the number of goods lying in the warehouse and supplies them efficiently. One of the finest examples of lean inventory tools is the JIT system.
Warehouse Management Tools
During the past few years, Amazon has substantially revolutionised the concept of warehouse management. Hence, the tools for this are also under constant upgradation. This tool provides one with an option for their supply chain to make it public or private that is subjected to scale up and emphasise efficiency. This in turn would run the chain smoothly.
Supplier Management Tools
This is an optional tool for businesses that have an operating SCMS. Supplier management tool consists of SAP programming that makes supply chains feasible and cost-effective. This tool helps in tracking the contributions of the suppliers to the chain and hence contracts are regenerated from these segregated data.
Integration of Digital Supply Chain Management Tools
Digital supply chain management tools are one of the major reasons for business turnovers post-COVID. Since COVID-19, several technologies have emerged that have helped companies supersede the digital economy. Let's see how.
Automation: This has helped in streamlining work as well as the supply chain more efficiently than before. Automation has helped in managing and capturing supplier data. Digital supply chain management helped immensely in eliminating the slow and time-consuming effort of manual data gathering.
IoT or Internet of Things: This digital supply chain management tool helps in exchanging data that holds the potential for optimising supply chain operations. IoT helps with real-time visibility from the advent of manufacturing processes. Embedded IoT sensors further help in moving out items through the chain and gain unprecedented visibility.
Advanced Analytics: Even though IoT helps with real-time visibility of data, the data is often unstructured and disorganised. Advanced analytics come in handy to intelligently analyse and leverage that data. This further helps supply chain leaders to make better decisions and improve business operations.
Key Performance Indicators for Supply Chain Management Tools
Supply chain tools come with some KPIs that ensure their optimisation. Let's see what they are.
- Productivity in the workplace: An efficient supply chain has to have a productive workforce that removes any kind of operational bottlenecks.
- Downtime: A digital supply chain tool with a quick time response and low downtime enables the smooth functioning of supply chain operations.
- Accuracy: A good supply chain tool primarily has models that accurately forecast future trends in demand and supply.
- Customer satisfaction: An efficient supply chain tool that delivers products timely can acquire high customer satisfaction among other chains.
- Profit margins: An efficient supply chain tool helps to contribute to the business profits and also minimises the overall cost of the chain operations.
Supply chain tools and technologies are rapidly increasing workplace productivity and ensuring cost-effective methods of inventory management. However, the number of people who know about different components of supply chain strategy is substantially low.
If you are interested to know about different digital supply chain management tools and technologies, check out Imarticus Learning's Digital Supply Chain Management With E&ICT course by IIT Guwahati. This hybrid course helps to accelerate your career in global supply chain management with guaranteed job assurance.