Supply chain management software is possibly the most fractured group of software applications on the planet. Each of the five major supply chain steps (Plan, Source, Make, Deliver, Return composes dozens of specific tasks, many of which have their own specific software.
Some vendors have assembled many of these different chunks of software together under a single roof, but no one has a complete package that is right for every company.
For example, most companies need to track demand, supply, manufacturing status, logistics (i.e. where things are in the supply chain), and distribution. They also need to share data with supply chain partners at an ever increasing rate.
While products from large ERP vendors like SAP’s Advanced Planner and Optimizer (APO) can perform many or all of these tasks, because each industry’s supply chain has a unique set of challenges, many companies decide to go with targeted best of breed products instead, even if some integration is an inevitable consequence.
It’s worth mentioning that the old adage about systems only being as good as the information that they contain applies doubly to SCM. If the information entered into a demand forecasting application is not accurate then you will get an inaccurate forecast.
Similarly, if employees bypass the supply chain systems and try to manage things manually, then even the most expensive systems will provide an incomplete picture of what is happening in a company’s supply chain.