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Smarter, faster and cheaper Supply Chain Technology…

Logistics Management has an article on their website (Free registration required to view the article) which summarizes a survey of current trens with respect to SCM technology – likes, dislikes, loves and gripes. The respondents were surveyed about the type of SCM or related software that they intended to purchase/upgrade/deploy in the near future, important factors w.r.t SCM software and who in the firms made the decision to acquire SCM software. This is the kind of response that any SCM consultant or SCM software maker has to be keenly watching – hopefully not as a first source of industry trends but as a sort of secondary confirmation.
The article gives an idea about the content of their survey sample:

The final survey sample included logistics and supply chain managers from both large and small companies, with annual sales ranging from less than $49 million to $1 billion or more.

Some important takeaways (which are succintly graphed in the article as well):

1. Six types of software are most commonly used in logistics today. The most popular are warehouse management systems (WMS), used by 61 percent of respondents, followed by enterprise resource planning (ERP) at 55 percent and transportation management systems (TMS) with 34 percent. Rounding out the list are supply chain planning (32 percent), import/export management (15 percent), and yard management systems (YMS) with 10 percent.
When it comes to upgrading or purchasing software, WMS and TMS are at the top of readers’ shopping lists. Supply chain planning and ERP applications are close behind.
This year’s survey also highlighted an important trend in on-demand (“pay-as-you-go”) solutions. Some 28 percent of readers already use such systems, and 34 percent expect to purchase them within the next 12 months.
2. Ultimately, readers said, the most important reasons for purchasing supply chain software include the right features for their operations, quality of service and support, compatibility with existing solutions, and configurability. All of that is aimed at achieving one overarching objective. “The number one attribute that companies tell us they’re looking for is integration of their internal supply chain,” says John Fontanella, senior vice president and research director, supply chain services, at Aberdeen Group. “That is head and shoulders above everything else.”
3. Eighty percent of the respondents who plan to buy supply chain solutions expect to spend less than $1 million on software, training, and integration. Most are currently evaluating vendors, and a smaller percentage have already decided which vendor they’ll buy from. Respondents typically rely on a team that includes corporate management, information technology, and warehousing/distribution/logistics, among others, to make those decisions.
In exchange for their investments in supply chain software, one-third of the respondents expect a payback within 12 to 18 months.
4. Fontanella adds that a 12- to 18-month ROI is not only within reason, it has become a necessity. “It’s not an unreasonable expectation at all,” he says. “A technology vendor that can’t deliver that will be out of business.”

All of the above seems just about right except the last point. T’is all well and good to expect an ROI within a 12-18 month timeframe but to place that squarely on the shoulders of a technology vendor smacks of the COTS (Commercial Off The Shelf) problem and how firms tend to view software solutions – as a magic wand. And that is singularily unhelpful.

Category: Logistics, Supply Chain Management, Supply Chain News, Supply Chain Software

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