5 Ways ERP is Changing the Supply Chain in 2014

Our supply chain ERP modules can give us a window onto our customer’s and supplier’s businesses. A window which gives us a view of supply and demand forecasts. But how is the modern ERP system changing the way we view and manage our supply chain in 2014.

Real-Time Visibility

We can link our ERP through our customers to the users of our products and plan on real-time demand instead of an optimistic forecast. Big retailers have done this for years and the tools to do this are becoming available to many more businesses. Some person buys a shirt in a Wal-Mart somewhere in the world and a replenishment order is already on the way to the manufacturer of that shirt and to the mills that supply the fabric.

Improved Transparency

Today, we wait for an email and then run our available-to-promise report. Tomorrow, we could enable our customer to run the same report. Why stop there? We could give further supply chain ERP visibility to customers including available capacity now or in the future. They could plan their own new product release around our ability to supply them.

Process Collaboration

As important as role-based access to your ERP system is, collaborating on processes and projects across departments is becoming increasingly important. In our supply chain this can translate to collaboration between you and your customer on a long term project or you and your supplier on a short term deal.

Life Cycle Management

Products come and go faster every day. Other products evolve and become better. We can use big data to help develop products that match real needs. Think about how your supply chain ERP system currently manages product life cycle. Do you pull in external data to add further context to your internal datasets? What secondary variables are associated with your life cycle data? What about seasonality? Environmental conditions? Could these inform your decision making even further.

Real-Time Response

We already link our smartphones to our supply chain ERP through mobile applications (native or otherwise). Can we make the link even more seamless for all employees by implementing a BYOD program? What data should they be able to access in real-time? Exactly where is that incoming delivery and when can we start production? What time will our technician be at the customer site – not what four-hour window of time? Our customer just used the last part ahead of schedule. Do we have to wait for a panicked phone call or can we start now with a re-supply?

A supply chain is an ever evolving system. Suppliers and customers come and go. Products evolve and materials change. Is your ERP keeping up with these changes?

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Tom Miller

About the author…

Tom completed implementations of Epicor, SAP, QAD, and Micro MRP. He works as a logistics and supply chain manager and he always looks for processes to improve. He lives near San Francisco Bay in California and can be found on the water in his kayak or on the road riding his motorcycle. Contact Tom at customerteam@erpfocus.com.

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Tom Miller