Is Your Supply Chain Planning System in the Cloud?

Supply Chain in the Cloud - 310 x 175My job requires a fair bit of air travel so I literally spend a good deal of my time with my head in the clouds. At 6’5” most airline seats are less than comfortable and provide very little leg, arm and shoulder room, so I often find the most practical activity during a flight is critical thinking. Yes, I might look like I am taking a nap but really I am deeply contemplating things like the current state of deploying Supply Chain Planning Technology in the cloud.

With the explosive growth in supply chain complexity and data volumes, a growing number of manufacturers, retailers and distributors of all sizes are all looking for more agile, easily implemented paths to better supply chain performance. Some have found it possible to enact powerful supply chain optimisations almost immediately, while saving substantial amounts of working capital and ensuring timely support for growth and collaboration over the long term.

They have chosen to deploy supply chain planning solutions in the Cloud.

Cloud computing is a model for enabling convenient, on-demand network access to a shared pool of configurable computing resources that can be rapidly provisioned and released with minimal management effort.

Today, the range of implementation options for supply chain planning solutions stretches far beyond traditional on-premises hardware and software. Some competitive-minded organizations question the advisability of lengthy and complex infrastructure projects. These supply chain teams harness the full potential of the internet by taking advantage of deployment models with names like Software as a Service (SaaS), Platform as a Service (PaaS), Infrastructure as a Service (IaaS), and managed services.

Cloud-based deployment alternatives remove IT obstacles and accelerate the launching of supply chain initiatives. However, are the advantages of cloud deployments for supply chain solutions real and worthwhile? I think so, and I have provided a few of the biggest benefit areas for having your supply chain planning software in the cloud.

Benefit #1: Affordability and Savings

  • Lower upfront costs – Initial capital equipment expenses are reduced and total cost of ownership shifts to a highly predictable annual expense line item.
  • Optimal licensing, hosting and services options – The wide variety of options provide a solution delivery profile that fits just about any organisation’s software procurement model and budget process.
  • Ability to reallocate valuable IT resources – Cloud-based deployments free up enterprise IT resources to focus on strategic initiatives and meet mission-critical demands rather than installing software updates and performing system administration.
  • Scalability to handle supply chain growth – It’s a significant competitive advantage to be able to activate capabilities as requirements grow and flex over time.

Benefit #2: Tangible Business Benefits

  • Accelerated ROI – Cloud deployments often deliver better cash flow and create a positive bottom-line impact much quicker than traditional models.
  • Greater agility to react to change – Because “the infrastructure is on the internet,” there is no hardware to implement and no software to install. Users can access the system from any location through web-connected laptops, tablets and smart phones.

Benefit #3: Reliability and Security

  • Less risk of unscheduled downtime – Resiliency and high availability are characteristics of a well-designed cloud-based deployment.
  • Robust security – The fear that storing business data on a cloud server could make it vulnerable to unauthorised access has been assuaged by the great security track record of hosting providers in securing and ensuring data privacy.
  • Expert administrative services – No one knows the ins and outs of system administration better than the solution provider organisation itself. The provider’s technical personnel are an essential resource for installing software updates, hot fixes, service packs and version updates in an optimum computer environment.

According to Gartner, cloud computing has reached a sufficient level of maturity to be in its “productive phase.” In fact, cloud-based solutions have proven enormously successful in a broad range of commercial applications, revolutionising the affordability and “adoptability” of solutions for a much wider range of companies. It is time for Supply Chain Planning solutions to join in this success?

As you consider the benefits of a cloud-based supply chain planning solution, conduct a self-evaluation by asking these questions:

  1. Does your current supply chain planning technology infrastructure fall short of the task of providing the supply chain planning capabilities you need?
  2. Is it difficult in your organisation to drive new capital investments for updated equipment and systems?
  3. Is your IT staff overwhelmed with user support issues and other system administration tasks?

If the answer to any of these questions is “yes,” then it’s time to find out how a cloud-based solution can accelerate one of the most rewarding business improvement initiatives your organisation can undertake: Optimising your Supply Chain.

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About the author

Hank Canitz PictureHenry Canitz is The Product Marketing & Business Development Director at Logility. To read more of Henry’s insights visit www.logility.com/blog.

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Food & Beverage: Five Ways SYSPRO can Alleviate Your Headaches

food


(Part 1)

Last weekend a group of colleagues, most of us in the ERP field, broke out the barbies and commandeered a stretch of shady beachfront. The group shares a passion: we are all in one way or another obsessed with manufacturing, which is why we began analysing the value chains that brought us the food and drink we were consuming. As we cleaned up our rubbish, we offered a silent and non-denominational prayer of thanks to the companies that bring us our modern cornucopia of beverages and food.

Back at work on Monday, I found myself brain-storming a blog topic. My mind, still half in weekend mode, turned gratefully to our food-manufacturing conversation. SYSPRO, after all, is the ERP of choice for hundreds of food and beverage companies. Our industry-specific functions are designed to ease the rigours of an extremely competitive industry, by managing financial complexities, optimising operations, guaranteeing quality, and offering precise control over every aspect of the supply chain.

Food Safety & Compliance

If you want to avoid giving a food manufacturer a nightmare, don’t mention Salmonella, E.coli, SARS, melamine, mad cow disease or bio-terrorism. All food production, in-home or in-factory, carries the potential for risk, but for manufacturers, the responsibility is vastly multiplied. Food and beverage companies need to ensure complete food security, as specified by government-mandated, industry-required food safety programs.

Food safety regulations begin with expiration dates and packaging, but extend to traceability of product throughout the entire supply chain. With SYSPRO’s Lot Traceability module, both tracking (farm-to-fork) and tracing (fork-to-farm) per product, lot and supplier ingredient is automatic and easily retrieved. For raw materials, products, packaging materials and processing equipment, a wealth of information is preserved at every point along the value chain, including incoming materials, manufacturing operations, inventory management and customer shipments. For every action that can impact food, at any point in the supply chain, SYSPRO enables a food processor to trace all ingredients back to their source, and all finished products to their retail, wholesale or food-service destinations.

Of course, all that information needs to be made actionable in the event of an emergency, both for consumer safety, and for brand protection. Government-mandated audits are bad enough, but there’s usually a grace period if procedures aren’t quite up to snuff. Mock recalls aren’t always as forgiving. Many processors that supply retail chains are now conducting mock recalls on a quarterly basis, and the cost of failure can be catastrophic, immediate, and final. With SYSPRO’s Lot Traceability, mock recalls are fully automated. Many of our customers can conduct a flawless mock recall in thirty minutes or less.

Of course, SYSPRO is, at root, accounting software, and discussions of functionality inevitably return to ROI. There’s even a value-add to our compliance measures. Lot traceability increases visibility along the supply chain, which can be leveraged to ensure food freshness and quality, improve customer service, streamline schedules and generally reduce the costs of business. In the warehouse, for example, traceability allows pickers to easily adhere to FIFO (first-in, first-out), while fulfilling longer-distance orders from lots that are in no danger of becoming outdated.

Trade Promotion Management

Trade promotions are an enormous element of the Sales & Marketing mix for most consumer goods companies, and food manufacturers are no exception. In fact, many of our customers cite trade promotions as a key component of growth. Promotions campaigns increase sales and provide companies with valuable information on consumer trends and changes – how well these campaigns are managed can be critical to success.

In years gone by, promotions were generally managed by sales team, but these days the prevalence, variety and importance of promotions necessitate the use of ERP. Fortunately for our customers, SYSPRO Trade Promotion Management makes it simple to negotiate the complexities of contract pricing, volume discounts, trade promotions, rebates, multitier credit checking and comprehensive reporting. SYSPRO TPM tracks off-invoice allowances and promotion deductions, and provides efficient reconciliations that result in increased collections. And of course, TPM is integrated into SYSPRO General Ledger, Accounts Receivable, Inventory Control, Sales Order & Invoicing modules. The bottom line? Reduction of confusion and complexity, huge savings in time, better information, better customer relationships, and (the pièce de résistance!) improved cash-flow and profitability.

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In Part 2 of this blog, We will go deeper into SYSPRO’s industry-specific offerings for the food and beverage industry, and how all of these functionalities can be utilised – with lower capital costs – on the Cloud.