Choose the best tools to support your supply chain

Understanding the importance of staying organized

If you have a goods business, you’ll definitely understand the importance of keep track of all the processes that make your business run from acquiring and storing raw materials to keeping inventory of finished goods to shipping them to your customers. There are many different procedures involved in this business that make up your supply chain, and I think you’d agree that the trick is to keep track of all of them. So when considering your options, you’d better start to shop around for software that allows you to not only keep track of inventory, shipping and other tasks, but lets you generate reports that can help you cuts costs, assure you have all your legal issues up to date, keep track of compliance issues and even ensure you are on track with the environmental responsibility front. When discussing software that can help you out with your supply chain management, you’ll most likely find software that only bundles inventory and other related aspects, but includes other aspects like customer relationship manager (CRM) or enterprise resource planning (ERP) tools. Depending on your business you will find some of these additional tools more or less useful, so when deciding keep that in mind.

 

Supply Chain Management_david kiger
Image courtesy of wistechcolleges at Flickr.com

Types of software

When analyzing which software to choose, you have to keep in mind how you plan on using it. Every company is different, so be sure to choose the one that best fits your current structure and procedures. Management software can be desktop or web-based. On a desktop software, the program is installed directly on your computer and runs only on the computers that have the license. On the web-based software platforms, you can log on from any computer as long as you have the user and password, which means you’ll have the information at your fingertips whenever you need it. On the other hand, you can also select a software based on number of users: personal, single user or collaborative. Personal software, is more for personal use like home projects or lifestyle. With a single user-type software, it is used for small entrepreneur-like companies that are managed by only one person, which is usually the case for desktop versions. A collaborative platform, more used for web-based platforms, allows several users to create, edit and have access to the information in the software, either based on roles or departments. A final quality that is very important for any software is the visualization, since the fact of the matter is that these platforms are developed to gather information and organize it in an easy to understand format. So, when looking into a software, analyze the way the information is shown and try to follow the rule of thumb that it should show an “overview first, zoom and filter, then details on demand”.

Additionally, all software designed to aid in the management of a specific process or for a specific purpose can be found in two types: open source or closed source. Open source means it’s free and available to everyone. Whereas closed source is not available for free to everyone, but instead is sold and is only available to those that acquire the license.

Top Open Source tools

Apache OFBiz

This open source platform is actually a suite with many other tools that are related to e-commerce, accounting, and point of sale. In terms of supply chain management, it focuses on warehouse management, order, manufacturing management and fulfillment. It has three layers: presentation, business and data. The pro is that it is customizable, but the con is that you have to set it up just the way you want it from the beginning for it to be a good fit for your operations, which means it can be quite complex.

OpenBoxes

OpenBoxes contains features for supply chain management and inventory control project. Although it can be adjusted to different types of stock, it is geared more for companies in the healthcare industry. This mainly due to some features like support of multiple facilities, expiration date tracking, historical order quantities, even though they may be useful in other industries.

Odoo

When it comes to the supply chain management tools, this platform does really well, by concentrating on inventory and purchase management while connecting it to e-commerce and point of sale. It can be integrated with other tools, so this is a good one to research and find out exactly what scope you want to give it.

Top Proprietary or Closed Source Tools

NetSuite Inventory Management

This tool focuses primarily on inventory management through automated actions and has real-time updates that come in very useful when trying to have good inventory management, purchasing, manufacturing, supplier management and demand planning.

TradeGecko 

TradeGecko will definitely live up to its promise to simplify inventory and order management. It will let you manage your supply chain, while keeping track of inventory and orders. It also has features to sync multiple sales Channels, integrate accounting, and coordinate shipping. Another good feature is its powerful analytics

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