Many SCM applications are reliant upon the kind of information that is stored in the most quantity inside ERP software. Theoretically you could assemble the information you need to feed the SCM applications from legacy systems (for most companies this means Excel spreadsheets spread out all over the place), but it can be nightmarish to try to get that information flowing on a fast, reliable basis from all the areas of the company. ERP is the battering ram that integrates all that information together in a single application, and SCM applications benefit from having a single major source to go to for up-to-date information. Most CIOs who have tried to install SCM applications say they are glad they did ERP first. They call the ERP projects “putting your information house in order.” Of course, ERP is expensive and difficult, so you may want to explore ways to feed your SCM applications the information they need without doing ERP first. These days, most ERP vendors have SCM modules so doing an ERP project may be a way to kill two birds with one stone. Companies will need to decide if these products meet their needs or if they need a more specialized system.
Applications that simply automate the logistics aspects of SCM are less dependent upon gathering information from around the company, so they tend to be independent of the ERP decision. But chances are, you’ll need to have these applications communicate with ERP in some fashion. It’s important to pay attention to the software’s ability to integrate with the Internet and with ERP applications because the Internet will drive demand for integrated information. For example, if you want to build a private website for communicating with your customers and suppliers, you will want to pull information from ERP and supply chain applications together to present updated information about orders, payments, manufacturing status and delivery.