Supply chain ERP (enterprise resource planning) is meant to address the unique challenges of supply chain optimization. Many broader ERP solutions offer features that are specifically designed to address supply chain management needs, and you can also find stand-alone ERP products that were created exclusively for supply chain management as well.
Here’s what you need to know about the benefits of supply chain ERP and what features to look for, plus our top picks for supply chain ERPs your company should consider.
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This all-inclusive multi-tenant cloud suite (100% browser based) includes, Order Mgt, Procurement, CRM, Accounting, Inventory & Warehouse Mgt, Manufacturing, and Workflow Automation.
Multiview Financials' ERP provides a single point of truth within your organization, enabling visibility across divisional, regional, or product line silos. It goes beyond traditional finance and accounting to add the sophisticated capabilities that today’s complex organizations demand.
My Office Apps (MOA) offers business automation for today’s business environment. MOA presents the best features in a cloud-based solution in one fully integrated software. Our robust and intuitive user interface retrieves information quickly, accurately, and in real-time, giving you the exact information when you need it. A full ERP (Enterprise Resource Planning), a complete Inventory Management and Warehouse Management, a Manufacturing Option, and an entire Finance Module.
Acumatica Cloud ERP offers powerful finance and business intelligence tools to streamline company-wide accounting processes. Track costs, control billing, and manage time/expenses with multi-currency support and powerful financial reports. Acumatica makes real-time financial data available anytime, anywhere, on any device. Harness this data to make informed accounting decisions, reduce workloads, close the books faster, accelerate growth, and transform how you do business in the digital economy.
A cloud computing software as a service ERP solution to manage all aspects of your business—accounting management, product management, inventory management, Sales Management, Supply Chain Management, Ecommerce Management, Sales Channels Management, Customer Service Ticketing, Email Marketing, and more. Our Cloud SaaS ERP System, we help organization that are in the distributions, wholesalers, retail, or ecommerce industry.
Katana is a manufacturing ERP that gives you a live look at your business. Features include live inventory and manufacturing management, batch tracking for end-to-end traceability, a Shop Floor App for total floor-level control, reporting, an open API, and a growing channel partner network. Real-time master planning features automate resource allocation based on prioritized sales orders and integrations with e-commerce, accounting, and CRM's to centralize all key business operations.
What is Supply Chain ERP?
To grasp what supply chain ERP is, we first need to understand what enterprise resource planning is. In a nutshell, ERP systems pull data from different sources and consolidate it into a single platform, so users can make smarter business decisions. Most ERP systems are designed to cover all essential business departments, including finance, human resources, operations, manufacturing, sales, marketing, customer relationship management, and supply chains.
You can learn more about general ERPs in our comprehensive ERP guide.
Originally, supply chain ERPs were a product offered within the umbrella of a larger ERP system, such as SAP and Oracle. However, as more and more businesses have realized the benefits of enterprise resource planning, stand-alone supply chain management ERP solutions were launched by companies looking to specifically cater to the logistics and needs of the industry. If you only need a supply chain ERP, instead of other aspects of ERP, these stand-alone products offer a more tailored solution.
No matter your situation, a supply chain ERP can help your businesses increase operational efficiency and therefore profit—provided that you choose the right supply chain ERP, that is.
What are the Benefits of Supply Chain ERPs?
Not convinced that you need enterprise resource planning for your supply chain? Here are some of the benefits you will realize with a properly implemented supply chain ERP.
Inventory management visibility
One of the main benefits of supply chain ERP is global visibility into inventory management, which allows users to see everything in one consolidated ERP system. Having all of this information in one place allows users to make informed business decisions based on comprehensive data.
Vendor performance monitoring
Supply chain ERPs also make it easier to keep tabs on vendor performance and supplier collaboration. Not only are all supply chain partners consolidated into one place with a dedicated ERP, the analytics features allow users to drill deep into vendors’ individual performance to see what’s working and what’s not. A supply chain ERP can help identify when it’s time to move on from a certain supplier who’s no longer meeting the company’s needs.
Planning and procurement
Supply chain ERPs also help to streamline material requirements planning and procurement phases, whether you’re buying raw materials and processing them yourself or just acquiring the finished product from other manufacturers. By consolidating all this information into one ERP system, users can identify redundancies and roadblocks and work to eliminate them in order to improve supply chain efficiency (and profits).
Analytics, reporting, and forecasting
A good supply chain ERP will offer real-time analytics and reporting into the current state of your business, so you know exactly how much product you have in the pipeline. Alongside that, it should also offer a forecasting function that helps to predict future market fluctuations and decide how your business should prepare for them.
One of the constant challenges in supply chain operations is the ongoing disruptions caused by major weather events, medical emergencies, political shifts, transportation issues, and other factors. By offering better visibility into every step of the supply chain and helping to forecast changes in supply and demand, supply chain ERPs can help reduce supply chain disruptions and promote maximum output.
Decreased costs and increased revenue
When combined together, all of these factors help your business reduce costs in the supply chain, whether that is directly lowering labor and transportation costs or helping to reduce bottlenecks and redundancies—all of which increases the company’s profit margin. Supply chain ERPs can also make a positive contribution directly to the bottom line by maximizing output, improving accounting, and more.
What are Key Features of a Supply Chain ERP Solution?
When looking for an ERP platform for your supply chain activities, there are multiple features you should be looking for. Some of the most important are:
Inventory management is at the core of supply chain management, which means that it should also be one of the core functions of any supply chain ERP. Any good supply chain ERP should afford total supply chain visibility at every step of the way, from demand planning to purchasing raw materials to producing the product itself to shipping it to its final destination. While stand-alone inventory management solutions are available, having it integrated into a full service supply chain ERP will help to realize even more benefits.
Warehouse management is another aspect of supply chain management that is crucial in any specialized ERP. The warehouse management function should let users quickly identify goods or materials at any location of a warehouse or distribution center, whether that is stock picking, shelving, shipping, or receiving. Similar to inventory management, there are stand-alone warehouse management solutions, but you’ll benefit more from it if it comes as part of a complete supply chain ERP package.
Forecasting and analytics
Forecasting is absolutely essential for supply chain management systems. Both under- and overestimating customer demand will have a huge impact on a business’s ability to turn a profit. In order to forecast as accurately as possible, the ERP solution needs to have robust analytics that not only offers insight into the current state of your supply chain but also generates predictions for the future, which can be used to make informed business decisions about your suppliers.
As with all ERP products, a supply chain ERP should protect your data and business information from both accidental breaches and deliberate attacks. Keeping your supply chain information proprietary is key to maintaining a competitive edge, which is why any ERP solutions that you use for your supply chain needs should offer plenty of data security features, such as multi-factor authentication, encryption, and more.
Artificial intelligence and machine learning are rapidly changing the ERP world with their promises of taking over mundane tasks, thereby freeing up employees to spend their time and effort on more meaningful business processes. Supply chain ERPs with effective automation can decrease the time spent on manual tasks and reduce the changes for human error as well, further improving efficiency.
While most ERPs, including supply chain ones, were originally designed as on-premises solutions, more and more businesses are looking for cloud-based options that allow them to use the software while on the go. If your employees need to be able to access your supply chain ERP from different devices, then look for an ERP with a cloud-based platform. Some ERPs even offer both on-premises and cloud-based solutions, giving you the best of both worlds.
Every single business’s need for ERP integrations is unique, so it’s important to consider both your current and future software uses when shopping for a supply chain ERP. Carefully vet each of your top contenders—even if it’s a full-stack provider like Oracle or SAP—to make sure that either their in-house software solutions will meet your need and/or that they offer integrations for your most essential programs like warehouse management and carrier management.
Other Factors to Consider When Choosing a Supply Chain ERP
In addition to the features we outlined below, there are several other factors you need to consider when choosing a supply chain ERP. One of those is the size of your business, not just today but how it might scale in the future as well. You want to choose a supply chain ERP that can grow with your company, so you don’t have to repeat the whole process all over again and transfer to yet another supply chain ERP a few years down the line.
With this in mind, you might be tempted to go for the most full-featured, advanced supply ERP that’s currently available. However, if you’re a small business, these full-scale ERP solutions that were designed for global businesses might actually be too complicated for your needs (not to mention too big for your budget).
More complex does not necessarily equal better when it comes to choosing a supply chain ERP; you want to find a balance between meeting your current needs and being able to scale with your business in the immediate future.
Related to this issue is whether or not you want a stand-alone supply chain ERP, or if you want supply chain products within a larger full-stack ERP ecosystem like Oracle, SAP, Microsoft, and so on. Stand-alone supply chain ERPs are usually more tailored to the specific needs of supply chain logistics, but it often takes more work to integrate with other software products (and some integrations might not be available at all).
On the other hand, full-stack ERP systems are more complicated and expensive to set up, but once you get them going, you have all your ERP functions under one single platform that connects seamlessly, at least in theory.
However, these more general ERP solutions may not offer all the specific supply chain features you need, and they may include a bunch of other functions that aren’t relevant to your business. Before committing to a full-stack ERP solution, make sure you actually need all the features you will be paying for.
Best ERPs for Supply Chains
Not sure where to start your search for a supply chain ERP? Here are some of the best ERPs for supply chains.
SAP Supply Chain
SAP offers multiple SCM software products that cover supply chain planning, supply chain logistics, manufacturing, product life cycle management, and more. You can combine various SAP solutions to create a mix that works for your business unique needs. These products also integrate seamlessly with the rest of the SAP stack, which is a great benefit if you already use SAP products for other ERP needs, not just its supply chain features.
Blue Yonder touts itself as the world’s leader in supply chain management digital transformations. Their solutions cover every aspect of supply chain management, including demand planning, labor management, life cycle pricing, and beyond. Blue Yonder’s Luminate platform leverages artificial intelligence and machine learning to provide end-to-end optimization for your entire supply chain, allowing you to manage each aspect in a single place. Since it was designed specifically for supply chains, BLUE Yonder doesn’t offer a full stack like Oracle or SAP does, but it is especially tailored to the needs of supply chain management.
Many of the world’s largest companies trust E2open to help them make, move, and sell products and services around the world. E2open offers a wide range of intelligent application software suites, with one of its most popular being supply management. Whether you need help with forecasting, buy-sell management, the product life cycle, and more, E2open has got you covered with its supply chain management applications.
Manhattan Associates Supply Chain
With more than 30 years in the business, not to mention a partnership with IBM itself, Manhattan Associates has a long history of satisfied customers. Manhattan Associates offers multiple supply chain management software solutions, including carrier management, distribution overview, extended enterprise, and transportation management. Note that they separate out warehouse management, transportation management, point of sale management, and other functions, allowing you to pick and choose products as needed.
Getting Executives on Board for Supply Chain ERPs
Getting company stakeholders, especially the C-suite, on board with the idea of a supply chain ERP is absolutely essential for you to become an SCM system success story. The CEO will want to take a look at the big picture, so be prepared to explain how a supply chain ERP can help you decrease costs, improve profits, set you apart from competitors, and improve customer satisfaction. Keep in mind that if you are advocating for a full-stack ERP solution that includes supply chain as one of many functions, you’ll need to make the case for the entire ERP system, not just the supply aspect.
Your CIO or CTO will want to know about the specifics of deploying and integrating the software product. Be prepared to discuss your chosen ERP’s security features as well as the pros and cons of either an on-premises, cloud-based, or hybrid solution. You should also be ready to discuss how the supply chain management ERP will either replace your existing solutions or integrate with your current software products.
Finally, your CFO will want to talk about the money, so come prepared with facts and figures about not just the costs of the supply chain ERP itself but how much money you forecast it will save you in the long run. Be realistic with your figures and be ready to explain how you got the estimates that you did.
There’s a lot of benefits in using an ERP, and there are even more benefits in using an industry-specific supply chain ERP or a TMS. If you want more options or are just starting your search, use our ERP Software Product Selection Tool. You’ll get a shortlist of recommendations that meet your feature, price, and company size needs.