Richter’s Key Features and Directions for Supply Chain Software Solutions

In the spirit of our recent cross-blog series on The Future of Sourcing (recap I and recap II), I’m going to wrap up coverage on the 5th International Symposium on Supply Chain Management with a presentation from RSM Richter Consulting on key features and directions for supply chain software solutions.

The presentation overviewed seven major directions for supply chain software solutions, which started, peaked, and ended with some of my favorite topics:

  • Collaboration Among Trading Partners
    • Systems that will integrate with supplier, customer, and other provider systems
    • Transactional integration and visibility / inquiry
  • Demand Planning
    • Inventory requirement forecasting tools
    • Detailed planning by market, by customer, by location, etc.
    • Support for more complex lead time configurations and optional supply sources
    • Incorporation of customer sales history and forecasting
    • Dynamically updates as customer information is updated
  • Inventory Visibility
    • Inventory visibility from cradle-to-grave: on-order, in-transit, received, in-process, on-hand, on-delivery, etc.
    • available-to-promise at point of order entry or earlier
  • Logistics & Freight Management Tools
    • Planning and coordination of transportation with providers
    • Generation of all required documentation
    • Visibility of, and status on, the movement of goods from supplier to customer
  • Complete Integration of Functionality
    • An ideal integration of depth and breadth
    • Elimination of “islands of information”
  • Vertical, Industry-Specific Applications
    • A shift from generic tools to deep industry functionality
    • Without losing the underlying fully integrated suite
  • Optimization of Business Processes
    • tools for workflow and collaboration
    • geared to provide standardization and efficiency
    • automation for business processes
    • consistency in documentation

These are all great topics – and right now companies like Arena, Blinco, Co-exprise, Enporion, Iasta,, Provade, TrueDemand, and VerticalNet are cheering – since they’ve understood at least some of these points for quite a while now. (It’s unfortunate for some of them that it’s not coming through loud and clear in their messaging.)

However, regardless of which points you agree with and which points you don’t, the proper implementation and use of more advanced supply chain software comes with some significant benefits, including:

  • increased supply chain efficiency through improved information flow
  • reduced inventory, and related costs, through better management of demand, purchasing, production, and delivery
  • faster and more accurate visibility on inventory and availability
  • improved collaboration with trading partners with whom information can be shared for better decision making

… and all of this leads to improved efficiency and cost savings!