How to choose a supply chain management solution

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Any business that opts for a supply chain management solution has to have clarity on how to choose a supply chain management solution. This is because the supply chain management solution is expected to carry out a number of very important functions. Choosing the wrong or inappropriate one can backfire on the business and derail and impede, rather than ease its work.

Businesses have to take a few important factors into consideration when they have to choose a supply chain management solution. For the supply chain management solution to perform its function of facilitating the supply chain for the business, it needs to perform its functions smoothly without causing hiccups to the business. This is where the decision-making ability of the business owner comes into picture.

supply-chain-management-solutionSo, what factors need to be taken into consideration when a business has to choose a supply chain management solution? Try considering these:

1. Choose by industryThis is obviously a no brainer, but it is an important first consideration nevertheless in choosing a supply chain management solution. Many supply chain management solution providers sell the idea that these are one-size-fits-all solutions that work across a number of industries since the core functions are essentially the same.

This may be true to an extent, but while a number of functionalities are common across a few industries; it is important to get down to the one that is built for your business. A supply chain management solution that works best for retail, for example, may not be as effective for an automobile store. Getting down to the details and dissecting the functionality that the supply chain management solution performs for your particular industry is an important first step in choosing a supply chain management solution.

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2. Define your needThis is the next important consideration when choosing a supply chain management solution. A number of supply chain management solutions are available in the market. Choose the one that suits your need the best. In order to do this, the business has to define its need to the fullest extent. It could take a few factors such as this into consideration:

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3. Understand the integration function of the supply chain management solutionIntegration is, well, the very soul of a supply chain management solution. The business should have clarity on what functions need to be integrated into the supply chain management solution. The reason for which the integration function is built into a supply chain management solution is to facilitate synchronization of the whole chain. This makes it one of the core factors that determined how to choose a supply chain management solution.

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4. Insist on the visibility featureVisibility is a great means for the business to have control over its sales, inventory, logistics, and a host of other functions. The supply chain management solution has to offer visibility on all these functions.

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5. Customer relationship management (CRM)A supply chain management solution is incomplete if it does not come equipped with a strong CRM feature. The CRM is the determinant in helping to establish a good relationship with the customer. The CRM feature should enable the business to completely understand the nature of the orders and their status, plus, more importantly, help in customer query responses and other important customer-related features.

 

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The Challenges before the Supply Chain Management and Logistics Industry

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A look at the challenges before the supply chain management and logistics industry is instructive. Huge figures sit rather incongruously with the reality of the industry, which is that while from a universal point of view, the industry has been growing at a steady rate and is set to continue the upward trend; it has its own set of challenges and inequalities, depending on the market one is analyzing. The challenges before the supply chain management and logistics industry need to be looked at, if one were to analyze the supply chain management and logistics industry.

Let us start with a look at the size of the supply chain management and logistics industry.

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Impressive overall figuresThe supply chain management and logistics industry employs over six million workers of various cadres in the US alone, again a fair indication of its enormous size. The good news is that by 2018, the industry is expected to need nearly a million and a half jobs. What factors have pushed this industry into such growth figures?

From almost a decade, the supply chain management and logistics industry has been seeing new and rapid changes and developments. These developments have mostly been in high-specialty areas such as marketing, data analytics, management and human resources, are involved. The reason for which the industry is in need of such high specialization jobs is that technology has made such forays into the segment that models on which most supply chain-dependent businesses were built are no longer viable.

What are the challenges before the supply chain management and logistics industry?The challenges before the supply chain management and logistics industry are dispersed based on the market one is looking at. The major challenge for the mature markets such as the US and the other markets in the west is in finding new recruits despite its being an industry that is in need of workers. The main challenges before the supply chain management and logistics industry in advanced countries are:

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Challenges before the supply chain management and logistics industry in developing economiesOn the other hand, the problems of developing markets such India, where the retail industry is growing at a rapid pace, entertaining hopes of fueling the growth prospects of the supply chain and logistics industry, are of a different nature. In developing countries, despite the recent high rate of growth in this industry; the problems concern lack of good infrastructure, lack of governmental regulation for an industry that largely is seen as belonging to the unorganized sector, and challenges to warehousing, all of which are directly related to the supply chain and logistics industry.

supply-chain-management-and-logistics-challengesA country like India has a long way to go before it can build the kind of infrastructure of the kind seen in the developed countries. Although it has a huge network of railroads and roads; the quality is pathetically low, affecting the efficiency of the supply chain. Delivery gets affected in an environment of poor infrastructure and low implementation of technology, although India is relatively stronger in the latter area. Logistics and warehousing need to improve in a large measure if the demand for growth in this sector has to be matched by the requisite infrastructure.

Infrastructure is the very backbone of this industry, and this is one of the biggest areas of weaknesses in India. This places major handicaps and hurdles right at the very heart of the industry that is poised for huge growth. A number of steps need to be taken if the challenges before the supply chain management and logistics industry have to be overcome.

 

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Trends that will shape Supply Chain and Logistics in 2017

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Trends that will shape Supply Chain and Logistics in 2017 is an interesting topic to think about. Though most of the trends are a takeoff from the previous years, unless something really disrupting happens out of the blue at some point of time in the year; the signals are strong that the trends that emerged in the previous few years are set to solidify and get reinforced.

What are the trends that will shape supply chain and logistics in 2017?

For a sector that is dependent heavily on infrastructure for its working; there has been little of path breaking significance in terms of what has been added to the existing infrastructure in any country of significance in the world, at least not to the extent that it can impact the industry in a significant way. The Chinese hobbyhorse, the One Belt One Road (OBOR) initiative, is not slated for completion in this year. The completion of this grand project could spell a major change for the shape supply chain and logistics, but nothing of such drastic significance is set to take place in 2017.

trends-will-shape-supply-chain-and-logistics-2017In the other “happening” countries – for the supply chain and logistics industry that is – 2017 is not likely to see a signal shift. But the developments that have been happening over the past few years are likely to gather pace. Technology is one area in which the change is to be expected. While again, technology itself may not really be new till this point of time in this year; a few trends have been emerging, promising to make some impact on the shape supply chain and logistics industry in 2017.

Big Data as a driver of changeBig Data is the word on everyone’s lips. How can one expect an industry that is so completely data driven as logistics and supply chain to be insulated from its influence?

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Transition to m-commerceA notable development that is expected in the supply chain and logistics in 2017 is the evolution of ecommerce into m-commerce. This again, is nothing new or defining for 2017, but the year is likely to see a continuation of the trend set earlier.

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People all over the world are finding it much easier to shop with the help of their mobile devices, and are adapting to this medium, albeit at different levels and speed. The explosion in the number of smartphones being purchased globally has added impetus to m-commerce.

Try-ons as a new trendA new feature of online shopping is the try-on option that consumers are now being given. Online shoppers are given the option of choosing 4-5 varieties of their chosen product. All these pieces are delivered with the order, and the consumer can try out each of them and select the one that she thinks suits her best. The idea is to replicate the actual shopping to the extent possible.

trends-will-shape-supply-chain-and-logistics-2017This trend has its challenges, for sure, because the cost of making it work could be unimaginably high. As with any new trend, it is going to be some time before the economies of scale of such huge logistical operations start kicking in. Yet, this is a very tangible factor that is sure to count among the supply chain and logistics trends of 2017.

 

 

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Global Supply Chain Regulatory Compliance

Global supply chain regulatory compliance has become more important than ever before because of the confluence of a number of factors. As globalization becomes inevitable and inescapable, the global supply chain is one of the core arenas in which it plays out. The outgrowth brought about by globalization, namely outsourcing, has further increased the need for global supply chain regulatory compliance.

Global supply chain regulatory compliance has now become something on which organizations cannot compromise. Any shipment of any item that reaches foreign shores can get rejected if it has not met global supply chain regulatory compliance. Such a consignment could even get labeled as counterfeit. This explains the importance and need for global supply chain regulatory compliance. Being in global supply chain regulatory compliance means adhering to even the local laws of the foreign country into which goods and products are exported.

Governments have become more stringent 

global-supply-chain-regulatory-complianceAs a result of these trade and technological developments; governments all around the world without exception are jumping on the bandwagon to formulate laws that apply to the supply chain industry. For most governments, global supply chain regulatory compliance is a must. They are becoming extremely strict in enforcing these laws and are handing out severe punishments to businesses and organizations that are lax in enforcing global supply chain regulatory compliance. Most countries are legislating laws regarding global supply chains almost exclusively, in a way that other political acts are framed. This has pushed the need for global supply chain regulatory compliance further.

Other related developmentsAs technologies advance in the global supply chain, many developments in auxiliary and supplementary fields have hastened global the push for supply chain regulatory compliance requirements. For example, heavy paperwork, which used to be hallmark of most merchandising businesses, has made way for automation. Global supply chain regulatory compliance has to take factors such as these into consideration.

global-supply-chain-regulatory-complianceOther developments in allied areas such as intellectual property rights have gone on to strengthen the role of global supply chain regulatory compliance. As countries demand greater protection for their intellectual property products, they use global supply chain regulatory compliance as an instrument to enforce these, when these products concern exports.

In addition, there could also be other critically important issues in global supply chain regulatory compliance that may not be related to any of these, but can play a decisive role in disrupting global businesses. Think of natural disasters such as the Fukushima earthquake or the many natural disruptions such as hurricanes in South and North America. These could throw businesses out of gear. Global supply chain regulatory compliance is a kind of insulation against the uncertainties caused by events such as these.

In other words, global supply chain regulatory compliance should leave no stone unturned. There is no scope for compromise of any kind in implementing global supply chain regulatory compliance provisions.

Items that go into global supply chain regulatory complianceMeeting global supply chain regulatory compliance requirements means having to take care of a number of ingredients. Some of these are:

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Upcoming crucial global supply chain regulatory compliance regulation in the USSeveral legislations aimed at bringing about global supply chain regulatory compliance are in place. However, at this point of time, a really crucial global supply chain compliance regulation that could play a major role in the US in the coming years is the Automated Commercial Environment (ACE).

global-supply-chain-regulatory-complianceIn a nutshell, this U.S. Customs and Border Protection (CBP)-mandated regulation aims to bring in place a single portal which will make information on imported goods flow electronically from the businesses themselves right to the respective departments or agencies that require and handle them. The ACE is aimed at making import and export related work paperless, while also seeking to become a major facilitator of trade.

 

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What is logistics and supply chain management?

Logistics and supply chain management (SCM) constitute a very important element of businesses. Getting the logistics and supply chain management aspects right is necessary for the smooth flow of products from their source to destination, during the course of which many activities need to be performed.

Logistics and supply chain management is emerging as a major area of business because of the evolution and growth of globalization. Many products and goods are produced in one country and consumed in another situated thousands of miles away. The right logistics and supply chain management helps to deliver the goods and products to the right person, at the right time, at the right place and in the right condition. Lack of proper logistics and supply chain management is a recipe for disaster.

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What is logistics and supply chain management?

 

Among the lay people, there is a tendency to use the two words synonymously and interchangeably. In trade, however, there are major differences between the two. Logistics is just a part of the supply chain. In simple, general and broad terms, one can understand the difference between logistics and supply chain in the following ways:

Logistics is a part of supply chain, meaning that it is a set of activities that are carried out within an organization. Supply chain, on the other hand, is the full set of activities that are carried out from start to finish, i.e., from the time it departs the organization that it is leaving till the time it reaches its logical destination. In this process, supply chain management involves the coordination and collaboration of many entities. In this sense, supply chain is a whole set of activities, of which logistics is only a part.

Another way of understanding logistics and supply chain management 

logistic-and-supply-chain-managementAnother way of understanding logistics and supply chain management is this:

Logistics can be understood as being a discipline in which the following activities are involved:

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On the other hand, supply chain management can be said to include more extended activities, which include:

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Logistics and its extended activitiesLogistics often is described in terms of inbound and outbound logistics. Simply put, inbound logistics is the movement of raw materials and goods that are bought by and transported into a company. When these are processed and finished and shipped to customers; they become part of outbound logistics.

Logistics and supply chain management in a broader contextWhen one tries to get an understanding of logistics and supply chain management at a higher or broader level in the way logistics has been described above; supply chain management can be understood as consisting of these elements:

logistic-and-supply-chain-managementA sound supply chain system seeks to create value for the organization by building and utilizing logistics infrastructure. Logistics and supply chain management become meaningful when the organization synergizes demand with supply, stock and supply and inventory management

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