If you’re gearing up for supply chain modernization, I’ll be blunt — don’t even think about an on-premise solution. In-house servers and software will punish you with high capital costs, and you’ll face the ongoing ordeal of IT maintenance and upgrades.
Cloud SCM is the way to go. Now fully mature after more than a decade, cloud SCM solutions dramatically lower the barrier to entry for SMBs while providing superior data access and operational agility. Let me share a few tried-and-true best practices I’ve observed many SMBs follow when assessing and deploying a new supply chain solution:
Benchmark your pain points. Too many SMBs write off supply chain inefficiency as a “cost of doing business.” Instead, survey your supply chain personnel and quantify how much time and effort goes into routine and ad hoc tasks. Reach out to some top customers and partners for feedback on where you could improve. Estimate the time and cost you could save by streamlining operations.
Understand the SCM market. Just like buying a house, you want to apply thorough due diligence when sizing up prospective SCM vendors. Sites like G2 Crowd, TrustRadius, Software Advice, and Capterra can be useful for user reviews. Time that you invest in understanding capabilities, checking references and devising the right questions to ask will pay off in the long run.
Meet today’s needs — and tomorrow’s. If you’re planning to grow the business, be sure your SCM software can grow with you. Maybe you desperately need a better way to run the warehouse today, but will you want demand forecasting and EDI in two years? The last thing you want to do is rip and replace software down the road because you went with a solution that couldn’t flex and scale with your growth.
Take an incremental approach. In your initial rollout, focus on quick-win, high-payback initiatives that attack your biggest pain points. Then build on those successes and lessons learned to apply SCM automation and analytics in other areas. Also, be prepared for resistance among users who might want to stick with “the devil we know.” Devise a strategy to encourage fast adoption and better collaboration.
From a supply chain perspective, it’s no exaggeration to say that the future of the business is on the line for many SMBs. Inefficiencies will only become magnified as the world moves at a breakneck pace to a digital future. Make 2018 the year you modernize your supply chain to protect and grow your competitive advantage.