Supply Chain Management – Software-as-a-Service

Is spending thousands of dollars to purchase supply chain software draining your cash flow? Is your software becoming out-of-date quickly after purchasing it?

Are you investing too much time programming supply chain software to make it work right? Are you continually having problems keeping software updated and working with different versions?

Are you having difficulties creating the supply chain collaboration and visibility you desire with global customers, partners, logistics providers, sales, operational centers and administrative departments?

Are you frustrated not getting the results you were promised from your supply chain software provider? Are you tired of hearing about why the software program doesn’t work?

If you are nodding “YES” to these concerns, don’t feel lonely as most supply chain management executives agree.

Each year exporters, importers and service providers invest millions of dollars and employ thousands of software and hardware technicians hoping to improved productivity and achieve better supply chain management collaboration. Most companies never realized their supply chain management goals. And, rarely does a company attain ROI value from their software technology investment before it becomes obsolete or needs extensive re-programming. One main reason is over-the counter software packages and in-house programmed software is comprised of bits and pieces fitted together without a comprehensive end-to-end business visibility plan.

According to Forrester Research, an independent technology and market research company, the current global economic crisis will reduce spending on IT products and services by three per cent in 2009. It may not sound much but perhaps this tightening of budgets is what supply chain management executives need to take a serious look at what benefits they are attaining from their current supply chain management software and at what total cost to their company’s productivity and competitiveness.

The affordable, sustainable solution to supply chain management software is Software-as-a-Service, know as SaaS. Software-as-a-Service offers four immediate benefits that makes it very attractive in these economic times: 1) Quick to Implement; 2) Pay-As-You-Go Variable Cost; 3) Scalability to your Requirements; and 4) No Capital Expense.

Consider these Software-as-a-Service benefits that will add value to your supply chain management and company profitability:

o SaaS saves money. No more software installation or maintenance headaches.

o SaaS reduces IT staffing, technology spend, and distractions.

o SaaS provides real-time global supply chain information with on-demand reporting.

o SaaS improves mobility. Desktop / Laptop compatible, no mainframe computer needed.

o SaaS saves deployment time. Get the entire company and all overseas offices upgraded instantly at the same time.

o SaaS allows immediate access to the latest software innovations, logistics supply chain tools and regulatory compliance.

o SaaS encourages supply chain coordination and collaboration. Company departments, customers, vendors, logistics providers and partners can contribute and collaborate in real time. And, eliminate duplicate data entry at your different locations and departments.

o SaaS helps control confidentially. Allocate access permissions based on who needs to know what information. Give your top executives full end-to-end visibility to track and trace, quote pricing, generate performance reports, ensure regulatory compliance, create what-if scenarios and much more.

o SaaS improves network security protection. Built-in global security to defend against malicious threats, hacker attacks and harmful viruses.

o SaaS allows redistribution of IT budget and eliminates tedious paperwork. More time and money available to focus on sales, marketing, customer service improvements and profit to the corporate bottom line.

o SaaS can be integrated into other company software applications and provide seamless end-to-end visibility into your business performance and profitability metrics.

o SaaS provides immediate real time information, statistics and reporting. Enables supply chain management by key performance indicators KPI’s.

o SaaS does not require a large capital expenditure. Pay-as-you-go. Variable monthly fee based on usage.

o SaaS offers scalability. Big and small companies. You can quickly deploy logistics applications and regulatory compliance applications that are urgently needed now to improve your competitive edge and visibility. Add more SaaS features and modules as your requirements expand.

o SaaS can be customization. Quick adaptation to your specific operational, sales, administrative and accounting requirements. Screen views, reports and communication mimics how you want to manage your business and logistics supply chain.

SaaS Software-as-a Service offer the best supply chain management technology at a cost you can afford delivering the results you need to sustain productivity, visibility and profitability. If your current supply chain software isn’t providing you the tools you need to manage on-demand; or not creating the coordination and collaboration you desire; and is more of a distraction and problem than the results, perhaps it’s time to explore Software-as-a-Service Supply Chain Management.

Fleet Maintenance Management Software

The movement of goods in and out of warehouses, distribution centers and final outlets like retail chains form an integral part of supply chain management. With the gradual demise of ‘just-in-case’ inventory management and the arrival of the ‘just-in-time’ inventory concept, the logistics operations have become critical, and form the backbone of production and distribution operations.

The function of logistics is to provide auxiliary service along the value chain of a product, by transporting the product to different locations for value addition, storage and final consumption. This function assumes significance in light of companies moving their manufacturing locations across different parts of the world for competitive cost advantages. Furthermore, the concept of modular manufacturing and assembly at different locations has forced a strategic role upon logistics to deliver the goods in time.

The function of transporting goods is provided by transportation companies who have extensive fleets consisting of trucks, ships and planes. The ownership of oil tankers and other container carriers, and airplanes in the tourism and courier industries, involves huge costs. The fleet is owned by the companies who manufacture the goods, or is rented out by transportation companies.

Asset management for fleet owners means effective utilization of the fleet, maintenance of the fleet and prolonging the life of the fleet. Maintenance management software packages help achieve these goals. Since fleets are mobile assets, the computerized maintenance system is mostly networked through base stations and mobile stations like hand-held digital assistants and palmtops. Advanced technologies like RFID help pinpoint the location of assets for on-the-road maintenance.

The fleet MMS provides features like data management of the fleet, including fuel entry, the running of miles and crew details. It provides regular features, like scheduling preventive maintenance and crew shifts. The fleet MMS links to the financial parameters by allowing the entry of billing and payment of bills for fuel or on-the-road repairs.

Plug Up Money Leaks in Logistics With Pallet Management Software

If your business uses different types of pallets and other shipping and receiving equipment, chances are you can benefit from pallet management software. The shipping of raw materials to manufacture your product may use Chep, LPR or IPPL pallets whereas the finished product may use a different kind of equipment to ship to your storage warehouse or client destination. When these different types of equipment come from multiple vendors, your logistics problem can multiply.

What the Software Can Do for Logistics

Do you find yourself being charged for damaged or lost pallets? What about pallets that are picked up late? What if you end up with skids that are not yours? All of these issues could be vastly improved with implementation of the right pallet management software.

Software could track each and every pallet and piece of equipment used for shipping and receiving of raw materials to your finished product. Why would you want to know where each individual pallet is at all times? Perhaps you discover a problem with product A that is being shipped on pallet Z. Or, maybe a client wants to reduce or expand their order. You can re-route one or more back to or from your storage warehouse with a just a few keystrokes and mouse clicks.

The ability to track each piece of equipment involved in the shipping and receiving of your raw materials and finished goods means that there is less room for error in several areas. The company you hire or lease the equipment from would be less likely to slip erroneous charges for lost or damaged goods onto your invoice. Plus, you can ensure the empty pallets are picked up and re-delivered to the right destination in a timely manner so you are not charged for extra time.

The Bottom Line

Software can essentially automate the tedious task of tracking all your shipping and receiving equipment. Things are easier to resolve and you may even have the ability to link and reconcile with your client and vendor software programs. You have more control and focus over logistics tasks, allowing you to plow through various types of data as well as make transfers and re-routing simpler.

Risks are minimised which means more money is saved for the logistics department. The reporting tools and easy use are additional benefits of using pallet management software. The bottom line is that you have better control and can minimise expenses with the software, leaving you with more time for more important matters.