Think of it as two phases for your company.
Phase One: Supply chain evaluation
20/20 hindsight can be a horrible headache. How many times have each us said, “If I knew back then what I know now, I would have done this differently.” This can be no different when choosing SCM software. Strategic planning, thorough research, and handling critical questions will save you from future “shoulda, coulda” woes. In fact, a comprehensive assessment of your own company’s supply chain should be first priority before initiating SCM vendor talks. Here is a list to keep in mind while evaluating:
- Have you conducted a comprehensive assessment of existing businesses? Do you have a legitimate need for SCM software at this time?
- What is your overall objective?
- Do you have a selection committee in place? Are members from across different departments (top management, consultant, suppliers)?
- Have you identified specific requirements you want in your SCM software?
- Can you justify an investment which may not see a ROI for over a year? Are there any government grants your company will qualify for to help offset costs?
- How much change can your company make?
- How will you support and maintain new technology?
The more initial information gathered, the better the results when implementing SCM software.
Phase Two: How will this work for my company?
With a plan in mind, start vendor searching! Ultimately, you want a complete SCM system, which will intelligently integrate with your established CRM. This is the time to ask hard-hitting SCM software questions. Here is a small list of example questions:
A) Clarifying communication:
- How would the SCM software work with your customer relationship management (CRM) system?
- How would your business, IT and SCM software strategies all fit together?
- Ask to speak with other vendor clients or customers. How has the SCM software worked for them?
B) Getting the service and support you need, even long term:
- What type of flexibility and reliability do you offer?
- Do you have a future road map that will help my company grow?
- Could you list the top few supply chain performance improvement initiatives over the next couple of years?
- What kind of training is required for program managers?
- What is the learning curve for SCM software?
- Can this SCM system handle my company’s long term goals?
C) Maintaining your system:
- Is the system difficult to maintain?
- Is there a lot of downtime with the system?
- What are your supply chain performance improvements initiatives for the following years?
Hopefully, these questions will give you a starting point to implement a thoughtful research strategy. Asking key questions will help you chose the best SCM software for your company, and avoid any long term regrets.