What Features Should You Look For in a Supply Chain Planning Solution?

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Supply chain planning is becoming increasingly important for organizations. With frequent delays slowing down processing and leading to decreased inventory in many areas, businesses are learning that they must forecast demand, make arrangements for inventory planning and management, and manage the logistics associated with their supply chain. 

Are you looking for a supply chain planning solution that will help you more effectively address those challenges? Make sure you’re looking for these critical features.

Identify the Challenges You’re Solving

Before you can choose a supply chain planning solution, you need to identify the critical problems that you’re trying to solve. You want a supply chain solution that will help solve your specific problems, whether you’re dealing with:

  • Poor inventory forecasting–or, for some organizations, no forecasting at all.
  • A lack of understanding of your supply chain process and challenges across the organization.
  • Slow replenishment cycles–which are particularly detrimental in today’s era of slow shipping times and supply chain challenges
  • Lack of inventory visibility, which can make it difficult to determine what you have, what you need, and how to make sure that you have the right inventory on hand–and in the right place–at any given time
  • Challenges with shrinkage, including wasted inventory

Focus on the problem you’re trying to solve as you select a supply chain planning solution to help increase the odds that you will choose a solution with the right tools to help streamline your inventory management process and provide you with a more accurate view of the stock you have on hand, the stock you need to have on hand, and what you should do to help keep stock moving smoothly.

Critical Features for Your Supply Chain Planning Solution

Ready to start ordering? Look for these features. 

1. Inventory planning & management options

If you cannot fulfill your customers’ needs when they’re ready to order from your business, chances are, they’re going to turn to someone else for that purchase. Not only have you lost a customer for a single purchase, that customer’s loyalty may shift to the other organization. Make sure your supply chain planning solution offers robust inventory planning and management solutions so that you can plan your inventory, track it, and get a better idea of when you need to order everything from raw materials to finished products. 

Check out our top Microsoft Business Central tips!

2. Sales & operations planning solutions

In addition to managing your overall inventory, have you considered how your inventory availability–and the items your customers are purchasing–can impact your business’s future? By tracking your inventory effectively, you can get a better idea of what your customers are looking for. As a result, your sales and operations team can determine what products they need to push, which products are most likely to fit a customer’s needs, and how you need to shift your marketing to bring in more customers who have a high likelihood of being interested in those products and services. 

3. Logistics management tools

Logistics management is a critical part of managing your supply chain, keeping up with inventory, and ensuring that you have the solutions your customers are looking for. With effective logistics management, you can keep track of the fleet you have on hand for transportation, your warehouses, your materials handling, and even order fulfillment solutions, all of which can go a long way toward ensuring that you have an effective supply chain in place that will allow you to keep up with the needs of your customers and your business. Logistics is one of the most critical pieces of your supply chain–and you want your supply chain planning solution to take those vital factors into consideration so that you can alter them–or your other plans–as needed. 

4. Production & demand planning assistance

You cannot always fully predict exactly what inventory your customers will demand as time moves forward. For example, no one could have predicted the toilet paper shortage of 2020, or the need for many companies to shift to producing hand sanitizer. On the other hand, based on your past sales and other trends, you can often get a handle on what your future sales will look like. With demand planning assistance through your supply chain planning solution, you can get a better idea of what your future demand will look like, which may enable you to shift production accordingly. As a result, you set your business up for success. 

5. Adaptability & customization options

As part of your supply chain planning solutions, make sure you look for adaptability and customization options. Your business is unique. The materials you need, the processes you need to go through, and the solutions you need may be equally unique. While some businesses are fine with a standard solution, others will find that they’re able to work more efficiently with a supply chain planning tool that they can customize to their specific needs. As you’re looking for your supply chain planning solution, make sure you choose one that can be customized for  your business. 

6. Regular updates

Software, even supply chain planning software, can become obsolete faster than you think. You want a solution that will allow you to update it over time, rather than a one-time solution that simply expects you to keep using the same old solution indefinitely. (Hint: that may be what got you in this fix in the first place!) Look for a solution that will allow you to update your solution as needed, keeping you in line with the latest changes and updates in your industry and across the network you use on a regular basis. 

Are you looking for a supply chain planning solution that will help you better predict and manage your inventory needs? StockIQ can help solve your supply chain management problems and make your inventory management more efficient. Contact us today for more information about how our products can help improve forecasting, enhance knowledge, and improve your replenishment cycle.

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