Supply Chain Management Software: How You Can Change the Game

Supply chains are detailed, complex, and – if you don’t have the right tools to help you understand what’s going on every step of the way – baffling.

Most small businesses don’t have the time or resources to manage their entire supply chains single-handedly.Trying to do so can create a significant potential for error and delays.

But not managing your supply chain isn’t an option, especially in a market where customer experience is everything, and competition is fierce. If you want to step up your game and blow competitors out of the water, you need an efficient supply chain streamlined to ensure top performance at every stage.

How can you achieve such a lofty goal? Supply chain management (SCM) software gives you the tools to get a better understanding of your supply chain and the power to make strategic changes in everything from sourcing to fulfillment.

The Importance of Supply Chain Management

Supply chain management is so called because it involves the management of goods throughout the entire chain of supply, from raw materials to production to final delivery. It’s a cycle that includes suppliers, manufacturers, distributors and customers, each with specific needs and expectations, as well as the finances necessary to support the whole process.

There are several elements of supply chain management necessary for success:

  • Planning – Understanding what’s involved in bringing a product or service to market, determining what resources are required to meet demand and establishing metrics to evaluate the effectiveness of an ongoing SCM strategy
  • Sourcing – Finding reliable suppliers of high-quality raw materials, establishing relationships and maintaining communication to ensure consistent availability
  • Inventory – Keeping track of materials needed for production, how much of each is readily available at any given time and preventing delays with timely orders
  • Production – Manufacturing products to be delivered to distributors, monitoring output, enforcing quality control measures and packing finished goods for shipment
  • Warehousing – Strategic positioning of distribution centers in key areas to facilitate fast delivery while minimizing the amount of space necessary to store finished goods 
  • Transportation and delivery – Optimizing routes to reduce delivery times for faster order fulfillment
  • Returns – Establishing a customer-friendly return process for defective, excess or unwanted goods 
  • Support and enablement – Ensuring the technology, manpower and resources are available to carry out every step and maintain consistent quality

More businesses are in need of supply chain management practices to optimize these areas so that they can provide better customer experiences. Good SCM strategies expand the view of business processes beyond what happens in a single store or local warehouse to include the complete chain of entities and activities involved in offering customers personalized service.

What’s the Benefit of Supply Chain Management Software?

When you have one comprehensive overview of all parts of your supply chain, your company is on track for growth. Seventy-nine percent of companies with “high performing supply chains” have better-than-average growth than others in their industries, but only 8% of those that haven’t optimized can say the same.

Why? It’s mostly about how you serve your customers.

58% of customers are seeking more personalized experiences when they shop, and the most popular merchants are those making an effort to fulfill this desire. With SCM software, you can compete with the big names by providing a consistent omni-channel experience for everyone who shops at your store or on your website. Customers will get accurate product availability information no matter where they interact with your brand. Customers that place online orders will see detailed delivery updates to track their purchases from your warehouse to their door.

SCM software enables this level of service by:

  • Lowering overall costs
  • Improving visibility to anticipate and prevent problems
  • Minimizing production and fulfillment delays
  • Speeding up the flow of products to customers
  • Simplifying demand forecasting
  • Improving traceability to identify the source of defective or contaminated products
  • Allowing for strategic pre-planning prior to seasons with high sales volumes
  • Reducing loss from dead inventory
  • Facilitating communication between all parties

After you’ve used a software solution for a period of time, you can review trends to see how each key area is performing, how performance affects your business and where changes or improvements are necessary. The end goal is to develop a more efficient supply chain, resulting in better cash flow and superior customer service.

Choosing the Right Supply Chain Management Tools for Your Business

With this goal in mind, you should look for a system designed to handle all elements of the supply chain. This makes it possible to customize workflows to meet the requirements of your unique SCM process. Keep your needs in mind as you assess the options to find the best combination of these supply chain management software features:

  • Compatibility with current systems
  • Supplier relationship management and collaboration
  • Comprehensive inventory management and tracking
  • Order management
  • Warehouse and distribution management
  • Delivery management and scheduling
  • Demand forecasting and planning
  • Automation options, including predictive ordering
  • Return management for refunds and claims

Cloud-based solutions are the most flexible of your possible choices. Using this software allows you to access all SCM tools from any device, and stay on top of the flow of goods and data no matter where you are.

For a truly customizable option, look for software that allows you to pick the management tools you need right now and add more later as your SCM needs evolve.

Need to Cover the Cost of Supply Chain Management Software? Try a Business Loan!

According to the 2015 Supply Chain Management Software Buyer Report from Software Advice, small business owners were willing to spend an average of $30,000 to update their SCM software. Mid-size and large businesses were up for spending almost four times as much – around $117,000!

While these numbers may seem high, consider the savings and benefits SCM software can bring to your business. Getting the supply chain under control, improving communication and maintaining consistent visibility pays off in reduced costs across the board, with a better overall customer experience. And with today’s cloud-based offerings, you can get a flexible, scalable solution for a flat monthly fee, instead of a large upfront payment.

A business line of credit can get you started with SCM software without disrupting your company’s cash flow.

National Business Capital & Services offers a revolving credit line of up to $5 million to cover the cost of the software and any technology upgrades you need to make to take full advantage of all features. With funding available in 1 to 3 days, you don’t have to wait to start improving your approach to supply chain management!

National Business Capital & Services is the #1 FinTech marketplace offering small business financing and services. Harnessing the power of smart technology and even smarter people, we’ve streamlined the approval process to secure over $1 billion in financing for small business owners to date.

Our expert Business Financing Advisors work within our 75+ Lender Marketplace in real time to give you easy access to the best low-interest SBA loans, short and long-term loans and business lines of credit, as well as a full suite of revenue-driving business services.

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About the Author, Phil Rinaldi
Phil joined the National Advisor as a guest author to contribute finance, marketing, and tech news. With a background in Business and Marketing, he provides insights into current trends, tech, and marketing strategies.