9. Analytics and Reports
In addition to analyzing consumer demand and your suppliers’ performance, this type of supply chain analytics tool performs analyses of your data from the entire supply chain. Analysis tools allow users full visibility not just into the physical location of inventory, but also into the health and performance of the company. Analytics can provide insight into the company as a whole or into individual sectors. Demand forecasts give visibility into the popularity of certain items, whereas warehouse analysis might tell you the most efficient way to store and move that product. This also allows users to analyze order processing which can uncover the source of delays and errors. Additionally, users can analyze transportation and logistical processes.
This helps decision makers understand how well carriers are performing along with patterns of delay and error. All of this visibility gives users the means to improve their processes while retiring less useful methods.
Analytics must be conveyed in the form of a report. Different solutions may offer different reporting methods, including tables, charts, dashboards and more. Dashboards are one of the most common methods, as they offer quick information as soon as a user logs into the system. Supply chain dashboard tools can be configured to show the most relevant key performance indicators (KPIs) as determined by the user.
10. Collaboration Portals
In addition to providing a hub for procurement, modern supply chain monitoring tools also allow companies and their suppliers to collaborate in other ways through a designated portal. Supply chain portals can eliminate several collaboration challenges including communication issues, bottlenecks in requisition and order, and other issues.
Using portals, all parties may have access to production progress, order forecasts, product specifications, purchase orders, shipment history, schedules and more. Collaborating directly on certain documents eliminates the need for continuous emailing back and forth to get the right information and the errors commonly associated with this form of communication. Collaboration portals support full supply chain visibility, allowing both companies and their suppliers to stay up-to-date.
11. Security Features
There’s another element among supply chain tools that’s focused squarely on security. Data theft can cause you to lose your position in the market as well as damage your relationships with suppliers. For instance, if your demand forecasts were stolen, your competitors would then have insight into the interests and preferences of your customers. This would enable other companies more effectively to sell to your market, reducing your profit. If financial data is stolen, you may lose the trust of the parties affected such as consumers or business partners.
In order to prevent these security failures, implementing defensive features is a must. Most vendors today offer security assurances to let their clients know what efforts have been made to safeguard their information. These might include avoiding third-party vendors with low security standards, forbidding backdoor creation, aggressive patch management and response procedures in the case of a breach.
There are also security measures your company can take in order to further protect your data. For example, dashboard reporting can be restricted based on the user to ensure only approved personnel have access to certain company data. Many solutions also allow a system administrator to set file permissions. Further, you can integrate biometric devices to provide further accountability.
12. Transportation and Logistics
In order to achieve a complete solution, you need to have some sort of transportation management. Transportation and logistics tools help users manage the movement of inventory and materials from one location to the next. With a solution equipped with transportation management, users can plan multi-stop trips, consolidate shipments to maximize space and plan for less than load (LTL) shipping.
In addition to planning transportation, these features help users address issues as they arise. Through inventory tracking, individuals can see when inventory is slowing down and intervene to find the cause. There are also collaborative options within transportation modules which enable all supply chain players to manage the shipping process.
13. Compliance and Auditing
Consumers, now more than ever, want their products to be well-made, safe and ethical. Thankfully, today’s tools give users the means to adhere to both environmental and ethical regulations with ease. For instance, some solutions allow users to closely inspect suppliers to ensure minerals obtained are conflict-free.
Auditing tools make it easier for your business to remain transparent during third-party investigations. These inclusions may collect and store data related to relevant policies and regulations.
We’ve got the top tools nailed down, but it’s worth mentioning that supply chains come in different types with their own management styles.
Compare Leaders For Top Supply Chain Management Tools