Develop a supply chain strategy

By James R. Borck, InfoWorld |  Software

For example, IT shops running custom-built, rather than packaged, back-end applications will need a substantial amount of time to develop and adequately test the programming interfaces. Once the system is in place, updates are difficult because they require new software to be pushed to every vendor within the chain.

Implementing an SCM solution also places strain on the daily operation of the enterprise and its business partners. For instance, companies have found that, after integrating the raw transactional fundamentals intrinsic to supply-chain success, the new system requires more efficient communication and planning capabilities along the value chain.

As a result of these tangential requirements, the supply chain has evolved to include a number of processes that were never originally considered SCM elements, including product design, planning, materials sourcing, and contract management.

Recognizing the demand for these additional capabilities, vendors are beginning to include more dynamic, collaborative communication networks in their offerings, giving birth to collaborative commerce and helping to improve communication beyond the transactional supply chain.

Collaborative commerce

Collaborative commerce, or c-commerce, also aims to extend capabilities such as ERP and APS (advanced planning and scheduling) solutions beyond the walls of the enterprise, allowing companies to share planning responsibilities and transaction processing with trading partners.

Collaborative commerce creates a unified, virtual enterprise with mutual sales, operational, and business goals by providing real-time access to information about your partners' production schedules and inventories. And c-commerce helps to breed stronger integration with suppliers by streamlining process flows and enhancing productivity through joint planning. Rather than simply responding to order requests, your suppliers can anticipate your procurement needs by taking advantage of direct links to your sales forecasts and inventory targets.

Of course, c-commerce is not exactly a new concept. In the late eighties, there was QR (Quick Response), the retail industry's effort to share inventory data with suppliers. And if c-commerce makes you think of EDI (electronic data interchange), you're not far off the mark. EDI, by allowing the sharing of data and ERP-based information in a collaborative arena, proved a solid means of facilitating cooperative trust among companies.

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