Whether you went to school for supply chain management or you are a new entrepreneur with no supply chain experience, you need to take advantage of supply chain tools. There are many different kinds of tools for managing the supply chain, and this guide should help you understand the purpose of each of them, so you can build a robust digital kit for keeping your supply chain running smoothly.
Order Processing Tools
Among the most important tools in the supply chain, order processing solutions support all functions associated with order processing, to include sales ordering, order management, order fulfillment, billing and more.
Some order processing tools can automate certain portions of the ordering process, such as generating and sending purchase orders and invoices. Thus, business leaders maintain more control over order processing while enjoying greater freedom to focus on other crucial tasks.
Shipping Status Tools
Companies benefit from real-time updates on the location and status of their cargo. These types of tools alert business leaders to changes in shipping activities, so leaders can build better strategies and take action when needed to reduce supply chain vulnerabilities.
Lean Inventory Tools
The concepts of lean production and inventory involve creating and maintaining only enough products to meet demand, which allows a company to avoid wasting resources on products that only serve as surplus. However, lean production and inventory strategies are difficult and require careful supply chain planning to achieve. In the modern business environment, leaders can utilize tools to manage the lean production and inventory strategies to success; without appropriate tools, leaders are likely to make mistakes that result in inefficiencies and losses.
Warehouse Management Tools
Warehouses require constant attention to operate efficiently. Warehouse management tools help business leaders inside and outside the warehouse better understand day-to-day operations to allow for advanced planning and effectiveness.
Transport Logistics Tools
A simple tool that is nonetheless essential, transport logistics management allows business leaders to organize the movement of materials and inventory through the supply chain and to their ultimate destination. No matter the logistical challenges involved in shipping, transport logistic tools will make them easier to manage.
Special Freight Handling Tools
Many companies manage specialized freight, like products that must be kept at a certain temperature. Specialized freight requires specialized supply chain logistics tools that allow businesses to track critical elements during the shipping process.
Bid and Spend Tools
Another incredibly important process within supply chain management, sourcing and procurement should utilize sophisticated tools that allow for intense scrutiny of bidding and spending. Many bid and spend tools provide granular data on the time and money required for different components within the supply chain, giving business leaders more insight and authority over their strategies. Some bid and spend tools can automate elements of procurement, which can reduce errors and inefficiencies.
Supplier Management Tools
Supplier relationships are incredibly important for driving down procurement costs. Supplier management tools allow business leaders to track and improve relationships, leading to stronger positions that can provide better deals and discounts into the future.
Demand Forecasting Tools
Major disruptions to the supply chain occur when market demand shifts unexpectedly. Businesses must utilize demand forecasting tools to aggregate and analyze data related to market demand. Then, business leaders can make more informed decisions for the near future and avoid costly mistakes regarding demand.
Collaboration Portal Tools
For a supply chain to run smoothly, different members of the chain must be able to contact and collaborate with the members on either side. To facilitate this, companies might make use of collaboration portal tools, which provide a safe and secure space for different supply chain members to communicate.
As businesses come to rely on digital tools for supply chain management, they need to consider seriously the rising threat of digital attacks. Data theft is extremely costly, and companies need to do the utmost to avoid any vulnerabilities that could lead to a data breach. Security tools dedicated to protecting data within the supply chain can keep an organization safe even as it collaborates with third-party vendors with differing security standards.
Regulatory agencies and consumers alike want companies to produce high-quality products that are safe and ethical for every member of the supply chain. Compliance tools make it easier for business leaders to track the environmental and ethical regulations that apply to their industry and processes, and tools can help leaders maintain records on the behavior of vendors and suppliers.