Small Business Supply Chain Management Software

Supply chain management software is a technology solution that automates and integrates the functions of procurement and supply chain activities. Here’s what you need to know about options for small businesses, buying tips for shoppers, and the best ERPs for supply chain management.

In this guide, we review the aspects of Small Business Supply Chain Management Software, supply chain management software companies, Which ERP is best for supply chain management, and types of supply chain management software.

Small Business Supply Chain Management Software

While many small businesses don’t have the resources to hire a full-time supply chain manager, they do need to keep tabs on the flow of goods from supplier to customer. This makes supply chain management software a good investment.

What is Supply Chain Management Software?

Supply chain management software is a business management tool used to monitor, manage and improve supply chain operations. It is a type of business intelligence software (BI), which helps companies improve their supply chain performance by enabling them to make better decisions about operations, production and customer service.

Supply chain management systems allow users to analyze data from multiple sources in an integrated fashion. For example, you can track inventory levels across various warehouses or monitor the delivery status of your suppliers’ shipments from one place instead of having separate data feeds from each supplier on your screen.

Why Use Supply Chain Management Software?

The main reasons for choosing supply chain management software are:

  • To improve the efficiency of the supply chain. This can be achieved by improving customer service, reducing inventory costs and improving performance metrics.
  • To reduce costs by reducing stockouts, improving customer satisfaction and increasing customer retention.

Top 5 Reasons for Using Supply Chain Management Software

If you’re not already using supply chain management software (SCMS), it’s time to start. Here are the top five reasons for using SCMS:

  • To improve the efficiency of your supply chain
  • To improve the visibility of your supply chain
  • To improve the accuracy of your supply chain
  • To improve the security of your supply chain
  • To improve the speed of your supply chain

What Is Supply Chain Management Software?

Supply chain management software is a comprehensive solution that automates your entire supply chain process. It allows you to manage every aspect of your business, from procuring raw materials to shipping finished goods. This type of software was originally designed for logistics companies and manufacturers, but now it’s used by all types of businesses. You can use it in any industry with an extensive supply chain process or complex purchasing needs—like retail stores or manufacturing plants.

Features of Supply Chain Management Software

While you have your own set of preferences, the right supply chain management software should include the following features:

  • Integration with other software programs, such as Sage 50 and Quickbooks. This enables you to manage different aspects of your business in one place. It also helps eliminate duplicity when it comes to information entry and reduces the chance for errors.
  • An intuitive user interface that’s easy to navigate, especially if you’re working by yourself or if there’s a limited number of employees who will be using it on a regular basis. You want something that feels natural when interacting with it; otherwise, people will find themselves getting frustrated very quickly—a surefire way for them not only to abandon using but also discourage others from starting!
  • Real-time tracking capabilities so that you can see where all materials are being shipped at any given time (or even before they leave). This feature makes it easier than ever before for businesses like yours who need quick access—you’ll never miss another shipment again!

Benefits of Supply Chain Management Software

  • Improved inventory
  • Better customer service
  • Improved customer satisfaction
  • Better cash flow
  • Improved supply chain visibility
  • Improved supplier relationships

Common Buyer Scenarios

There are many supply chain scenarios that you may encounter in your daily business. While some of these buyers have been mentioned above, here is a list of commonly found buyers in the supply chain:

  • Retailers
  • Manufacturers
  • Distributors/wholesalers
  • Suppliers (including agents)

Top Users of Supply Chain Management Software

  • Manufacturing
  • Wholesale and retail
  • Agriculture
  • Healthcare
  • Construction

How Much Does Supply Chain Management Software Cost?

The cost of a supply chain management system is usually dependent on the size of your business, the complexity of your supply chain, and the number of users.

For example, a small-scale business with only a few employees may not need an overly complex software solution. They can find tools that are more suited to their needs at a low cost. Conversely, large businesses with many employees will likely have more complicated supply chains and thus require more sophisticated solutions that can help them optimize their efficiency.

supply chain management software companies

Small businesses and large enterprises experience many of the same problems. Product-based businesses, big or small, have a stressed importance on customer service. Supply chain operations have a close relationship with the quality of customer service businesses provide – making supply chain visibility a crucial component for long-term success within a company. While businesses of all sizes share similar problems, it can be more difficult for a small business to overcome them due to a lack of ample funding. Not having enough capital is among the top three most common reasons for business failure. A study by the National Small Business Association reported that more than a quarter of business owners say they lack the funding for business operations. Luckily, we live in the age of technology, which levels the playing field and where supply chain management software for small businesses exists to effectively manage inventory and achieve visibility throughout the production process all without breaking the budget.

Supply chain management software for small business user: Equator Coffee Roasters

Supply chain visibility keeps customers happy

Supply chain management software for small businesses provides numerous benefits that promote the longevity of a successful and stable company. With growing competition among businesses, consumers have been conditioned that they typically don’t need to be kept waiting for a prolonged period of time for an order. Visibility within the supply chain allows businesses to track products and materials throughout the supply chain and order management process, making operations more efficient, enabling consumers to receive goods faster. Efficient inventory control accelerates order fulfillment from manufacturer to consumer resulting in a reliable and fast delivery – and a happier customer.

Real-time product traceability is a proactive precaution

Real-time supply chain visibility and traceability minimize mishaps in the production process and saves money. Small business supply chain management software can be used as a tool to ensure consumers receive quality goods quickly with each purchase. In the event of a recall, businesses can accurately make risk assessments and quickly identify specifically which products need to come off the shelf and potentially be returned or destroyed by customers, instead of quarantining vast quantities of inventory and possibly allowing goods that are of quality to go to waste. A faster, more reliable recovery process promotes customer retention as well as the company’s reputation as a whole.

Supply chain management software for small business results in more effective warehouse management and better purchasing decisions

Company-wide, real-time visibility also contributes to effective warehouse management. Effective warehouse management results in happier returning customers due to small business supply chain management software’s ability to provide accurate inventory data. Supply chain management software designed with small businesses in mind enables better purchase decision-making preventing stock outs or over buying of a certain product. Over buying can create the problem of stale inventory in a warehouse, which is less than ideal for optimal cash flow. Contrarily, out-of-stocks can bring the production process to a halt, and cause customers to become disgruntled. With neither of those scenarios being desirable, utilizing supply chain management software for small businesses can be a preventative measure ensuring wise purchasing decisions are being made and customers remain satisfied.

Acctivate: an affordable supply chain management software for small business software solution with robust inventory capabilities

SMBs typically seek solutions with a budget in mind. Supply chain management software for small businesses is an investment of both time and capital. However, the good news is that small business supply chain management software solutions, such as Acctivate, provide SMBs a supply chain and inventory management solution that automates countless tasks previously performed manually, with most businesses finding the software pays for itself in labor savings and efficiency improvements.

Beneficial key insight with bi-directional QuickBooks integration

Acctivate for users of QuickBooks allows companies to expand inventory capabilities without changing the current financial management system. Businesses reduce transition time to a new system by continuing to use the same financial management software employees are familiar with and, once in place, Acctivate’s bi-directional integration with QuickBooks ensures data is always in sync in both systems. Acctivate enhances QuickBooks, providing real-time supply chain visibility, inventory and order management and real-time visibility throughout the business, enabling better business decisions to be made while growing the customer base.

Which ERP is best for supply chain management

When I began my career in the ‘90s into the early 2000s, supply chain management was a pretty hot topic. Manufacturing and distribution companies were focused on outsourcing functions to other locations across the globe, which led to a lot of business process management and improvement of global supply chains.

The trend faded away as companies focused on newer, more exciting processes and technologies. HCM systems, CRM systems, artificial intelligence, blockchain, and other technologies took center stage while supply chain management processes dropped off the radar for many CIOs and executives.

However, supply chain management has proven to be invaluable in today’s environment. Covid-19 exposed the vulnerabilities and rigidity of many supply chains that supported them. And now it has become clear that supply chain transformations of the future need to look a lot different than they did in the past. It is for this very reason that Enterprise Resource Planning (ERP) in Supply Chain Management (SCM) systems are now top of mind for many organizations.

Our criteria for ranking the top SCM systems

Our independent comparison of the leading SCM systems consider a number of factors. We evaluated our experience helping clients select and implement the systems, product innovation, flexibility, and overall product roadmap.

In addition, we evaluated a number of functional criteria that are critical to global supply chains, such as:

The evaluation also considers average cost, risk, and benefits, along with both quantitative and qualitative factors.

10. Oracle NetSuite

Oracle NetSuite is a common go-to supply chain and ERP system for small to mid-sized organizations – especially those with relatively vanilla and less complex business requirements. Unlike other SCM and ERP systems that have just recently migrated to the cloud, it is a mature SaaS ERP system that was built in the cloud. The product also provides a full-blown ERP solution even outside of supply chain management, as well as a large customer install base and the resources of software giant Oracle.

9. Microsoft Dynamics 365

Microsoft is another mid-market favorite among those with relatively simple supply chain processes and needs. It is one of the top ERP systems with the familiar Microsoft look and feel. It is a flexible product that integrates relatively well with third-party systems, but it has its weaknesses as well. It may not be able to help manage your entire supply chain, as it struggles to meet more complex supply chain needs and its network of resellers and implementation partners is a mess. That said, it can be a good fit for many small scale organizations.

8. Plex Systems

Plex Systems was one of the first SaaS ERP systems to focus on two of the most imperative business processes, namely – supply chain and manufacturing capabilities. It is particularly strong among companies with complex supply chain planning, such as those in the aerospace and automotive industries. It is fast catching up on the retail and distribution space as well. It is a mature cloud SCM solution, but one without a lot of supporting implementation partners.

7. SAP S/4HANA

In some ways, SAP S/4HANA is the gold standard of ERP and SCM systems for large, multi-national organizations. It is big, complex, and robust, which can be a good thing or a bad thing depending on your needs. It handles full ERP functionality such as financials, inventory management, and CRM, while the addition of Ariba strengthens capabilities within procure-to-pay processes. The HANA platform provides speed and real-time visibility, but the functional maturity of the product is weak relative to its legacy ECC and R/3 products.

6. IFS

IFS is another Supply Chain Management Software with full ERP capabilities. IFS is particularly adept at handling geographically dispersed supply chains, such as those involving field service crews in the utilities industry. Unlike many SCM providers, IFS offers multiple deployment options including cloud, on premise, and hybrid options. The biggest downsides? The company isn’t as well-known as some of the others and its network of implementation partners is relatively weak compared to others in the top 10.

5. HighJump

HighJump, which was recently acquired by the software giant Korber, is another viable Supply Chain Management System in the small business to mid-market space. It is particularly strong in warehouse management and retail distribution, while sister solutions within the Korber network can handle more complex shipping, vessel, and port scheduling needs. The biggest downside is that we have found it to be relatively expensive and less robust than some of its competitors.

4. Blue Yonder

Unlike many of the bigger ERP systems in the top 10, Blue Yonder (formerly JDA) has a narrow and deep focus on SCM. Its relative functional strengths are in sales and operations planning, retail, and workforce management. In addition, it has extended functionality to address manufacturing and shop floor planning, which is often used by companies in the food, beverage, and pharmaceutical industries. The downside is that it cannot address some of the broader functionality that some of its ERP counterparts can.

3. Oracle ERP Cloud

Of the “big” ERP and SCM systems, Oracle ERP / SCM Cloud is the more flexible of the bunch. Its strengths within SCM are stronger than ERP competitors such as SAP S/4HANA and Microsoft D365, while its cloud SCM offering is a big more mature than S/4HANA, D365, and some of the others in the top 10. Oracle is particularly strong in analytics and business intelligence, which many CFOs tend to gravitate toward.

2. Infor CloudSuite

Infor CloudSuite – along with its Nexus counterpart – can be a great supply chain and enterprise-wide offering for those looking for a more complete manufacturing, distribution, or back-office solution. The product suite allows for multi-party collaboration, along with innovative functions such as its control center, predictive analytics, and working capital management. Infor’s recent acquisition by Koch is another strength, which gives the company R&D resources to continue innovation in the SCM space.

1. Manhattan Associates

The top spot belongs to a product from a big company that is hyper-focused on providing deep SCM capabilities. Manhattan Associates tends to fit particularly well with grocery, food, beverage, retail, and omnichannel companies. It is also strong in logistics and transportation, making it a good option for retail and distribution companies.

It is built on the .NET platform, making it easier to integrate with SAP S/4HANA, Microsoft D365, and other back-office ERP systems. The product’s biggest downside is that virtually all implementations run through Manhattan’s professional services arm, which can limit implementation options and resource availability for its customers.

While this top 10 list is based on the average needs of a variety of companies, your specific needs and priorities may result in a different ranking. The two biggest factors that will influence your prioritization of these systems will be:

Regardless of your needs, the above systems are some of those we recommend as part of your short-list of options to help navigate your supply chain navigate the challenges of tomorrow.

Please contact me if you would like to arrange a conversation to discuss your SCM and/or ERP needs. My team and I are happy to be an informal sounding board for you as you consider your supply chain transformation and digitization journey!

Resources

I hope you found this information useful. I encourage you to please download our 2021 Digital Transformation Report. I’d love to hear your feedback as well. If there’s anything that wasn’t in the top 10 that you feel like should be, I’d love to hear feedback on that as well so please reach out to me directly. I am happy to be an informal sounding board as you move through your digital transformation journey.

types of supply chain management software

As the world of manufacturing and retail continues to evolve, more businesses are looking at their internal processes for increased revenue. Shaving the margin of error down in a supply chain can yield enormous financial benefits, and, thanks to supply chain management software, it has never been easier to reap those rewards.

Supply chain management (SCM) tools allow businesses to significantly reduce errors (and the unnecessary expense resulting from those errors) while enabling full optimization of the whole supply chain. However, there are several different types of supply chain management software.

Different Types of Supply Chain Management Software

1 | Lean Inventory Tools

The idea behind lean production is relatively simple. A company only creates what items they need at that time. These needs are determined by projections of what customer demand will be like, and the more accurate those projections, the more efficient a business can run. For a lean inventory system to be truly effective, it would require the ability to integrate with sales systems to marry sell-through data with available inventory.

2 | Supplier Management

Supplier management tools allow a business to quickly analyze the relationship with a particular supplier and how they have affected your supply chain. Supplier compliance can cost businesses up to $5 million if the processes remain manual and disconnected across the operations team. A vendor management software creates a digital profile for each supplier for companies to rate and manage all tiers of partners on key metrics.

3 | Order Processing Tools

Order processing tools allow businesses to capture data for immediate use. With tools like this, much of the time-consuming manual work associated with order processing can be done automatically. These systems reduce the time and manpower required to process purchase orders (PO) and invoices. An intuitive order processing tool also allows for supply chain finance teams to quickly run reports on issued POs, outstanding invoices, and have a better understanding of the operations workflow when reporting out to key stakeholders.

4 | Demand Forecasting

One of the most useful applications for all of the data and inventory management systems to capture is to forecast future demand. These projections enable a business to be proactive, rather than reactive, and not miss out on potential sales due to being underprepared. Demand forecasting tools help reduce overhead costs and improve margins overall. The power of a demand forecasting tool increases when integrated with a vendor management system to ensure that any product forecast data is married with the data on the vendors that will provide the best turnaround times, price, and quality.

5 | Logistics Tools

The constant communication and various tracking tools available in supply management software help to prevent delays and other logistical issues by catching issues quickly, drastically reducing the chance of inefficient communication channels slowing things down. Over the past few years, there have been heavy investments in logistics software to improve the outbound supply chain. These logistics tools also help to support sustainability initiatives to track a company’s carbon footprint in the transportation process.

6 | Collaboration Tools

Supply Chain Collaboration tools allow different parties along the supply chain to communicate with each other efficiently and effectively. Having such a comprehensive portal for collaboration makes doing business more efficient, but it also reduces the chances of miscommunications. It is important to find a communication and collaboration platform designed for the supply chain that gives every participant a seat at the table to provide updates, have visibility, and ensure data integrity.

7 | Warehouse Management

Though not all supply chain management systems are the same, some systems provide planning tools that deal with the logistics of warehousing items, such as receiving products, tracking their location, and managing multiple locations.

8 | Bid and Spend Tools

These tools allow a business to dig down into how they are spending. It also provides a great deal of automation in the procurement process, which has the benefit of removing human error from the equation. Tools like this also make it much easier to evaluate competing bids and reduce the chances of missing an opportunity to improve the efficiency of your supply chain further.

9 | Security

Data breaches are big business, which is why some aspects of SCM software are tools for preventing that very thing. In addition to a company’s security, it can also help with partners to be able to demonstrate a certain level of data security.

Does SCM software need to be so spread out?

These nine types of supply chain management software are by no means comprehensive, but they do serve to illustrate the versatility of supply chain management solutions. It’s typically not just one application serving a specific purpose, but many software options out there don’t include all tools in one.

That’s where the GRID is making a difference. We combine all necessary elements of SCM software into one ultimate collaboration app for enterprises to connect every part of their supply chain.

Leave a Comment