Advanced planning solutions are now available to help medium-sized companies in supply chain-intensive industries overcome obstacles in terms of software adoption, deployment, and return on investment.
Over the past 15 years, supply chain management software (SCM) has become critical for most global enterprises. In Europe, medium-sized manufacturers and distributors in supply chain-intensive industries have a mixed capacity to successfully implement SCM. On the one hand they are small, flexible and usually decentralised enough to adapt to the changing needs of customers and local markets. On the other hand, they are competing with industry goliaths with much larger budgets and resources.
Whether the vision is a lean enterprise or demand driven retailing, research shows that supply chain innovators outpace their peers in inventory turn, on time deliveries, planning cycle times and waste.
These gains elude most European medium-sized companies – even those that have invested heavily in advanced planning software and services. Why?
The answer lies in the cost, complexity, and usability of traditional advanced planning solutions. Also, like their larger cousins, medium-sized manufacturers still have to grapple with issues such as the shift to outsourcing and channel consolidation.
Early adopters of APS solutions have learnt difficult lessons in three implementation areas:
- Data maintenance and integration. APS solutions are only as effective as the data that underpins them. Initially, data models are highly tuned to reflect sources of information but they gradually become less relevant over time.
- Usability. Most supply chain professionals need applications that work the way they do, explaining why email and spreadsheet tools like Microsoft Outlook and Excel are the killer apps in most firms.
- Collaborative planning and execution. Many European APS solutions mimic a typical US process that attempts to marry top-down planning with bottom-up participation, leading to a lack of trust.
The next generation APS and ERP solutions address these challenges. A viable alternative lies in APS solutions built on the .NET framework configured for deep integration with Microsoft’s Dynamics AX product suite which marries the performance and functionality of enterprise business applications with the flexibility and familiarity of a common interface.
RICHARD BARNETT IS CMO AND SIMON THOMASON IS EMEA MANAGING DIRECTOR AT KINETICSWARE