5 Tips for Selecting the Right Supply Chain Technology

Posted by Nick Ostdick on March 14, 2017

Supply chain technology and software for the automotive industryIn today’s global, interconnected automotive supply chain, the technology and software solutions a manufacturer deploys are just as important  - if not more so - as a company’s supply logistics and management strategies. Because so many of the critical actions and decisions in the supply stream take place in a digital environment, the right technology can either propel a manufactuer toward robust growth and productivity or relegate them to a static position of efficiency. In short, identifying the right supply chain technology for a specific supply network model can be a make or break decision for companies competing on a global stage.

What further complicates this crucial decision is the sheer number of available technology platforms and software solutions automotive manufacturers have at their disposal. The volume of choice and variance between software solutions can be a significant pain point for planners and managers, especially as they search for the most effective technology with the greatest level of integrations and enhancements to leverage lean supply chain principles.

As we’ve discussed before, the ability to cut the complexity of sales and operations planning and supply chain management is at the top of the heap in terms of the concerns of planners and managers. To help reduce the complications of the variant rich automotive industry, we’ll examine 5 tips for selecting the right supply chain technology and why these tips are important in the search for proper supply chain software.

Assess your needs and the features you require

Basic as though it may seem, understanding the elements of your supply network and the needs and features required of your supply chain technology is perhaps the most crucial element of selecting a software solution. No two supply streams are the same and as such no two supply chain software platforms are the same. In order to successfully understand your needs, you must first understand how your supply network functions, the interconnected parts, and how the major players and individuals within the supply stream function on a day-to-day basis. This means looking at a wide range of stages within the value stream, everything from sales and operations planning, demand planning, production programs, inventory management, warehousing, and transportation.

Customization to the automotive industry

With the sheer number of available supply chain management technologies on the market, selecting a platform that can be customized or tailored to the automotive industry is a core driver in propelling your supply network toward optimization and growth. For example, a supply chain management software solution designed for an industry based on perishable goods or products with a short shelf-life may not be a viable solution for the automotive industry where slightly longer lead times and production cycles are more common. Selecting a technology software solution that can be specifically catered to your needs and modified to fit changing needs and requirements is an important consideration planners and managers need to make early in the process of selecting a software solution.

Compatibility with current systems  

Odds are most autmotive manufacturers won’t be starting from scratch when selecting a supply chain management software or technology. Many, if not all, will already have existing systems in place, whether it’s an ERP solution, demand planning solution, or transportation management solution. It’s then important to select a compatible system where integration can be successfully completed without large expenditures of time, resources, or personnel. In addition, it’s also important to consider how this new supply chain management solution will engage with the systems or solutions deploy by your various network partners. The end goal in selecting a new supply chain management system should be harmony and balance with the systems your company interacts with most often.

Reliability of the vendor

You have a problem with a product or service in your personal life and when you try to contact customer service for support, you’re unable to find the answer you need in a timely manner. While this may cause slight disruptions in your day-to-day life, a similar scenario could spell disaster when elevated to a global supply chain. The reliability of your supply chain software vendor is an important consideration, especially when you consider the volatile nature of today’s supply chain. Sadly, bottlenecks or disruptions happen and when they do, you need a reliable software solution with quality customer support to address and correct these issues. Reading customer reviews, engaging in extended dialogues with vendors, and seeking input of others within the automotive industry are good strategies for discovering how reliable a vendor is and how well they service their products.

Your end goals

Much like assessing your needs and requirements for supply chain management software, it’s just as important to examine your end goals for deploying a new supply technology. What are you looking to accomplish? What is your one, two, or even five-year plan or strategy? How do you expect this new technology to operate and what kind of value proposition are you hoping to achieve by leveraging it? Essentially, establishing your own expectations, while somewhat elementary, is vitally important in deciding which technology to deploy and how, but also in judging how successful the technology is and whether there’s a need for additional solutions to supplement your existing network operations.

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Topics: Sales & Operations Execution (S&OE), Supply Chain Management