Tips on winning the internal debate when choosing a best of breed supply chain solution.
On Monday night, much to the dismay of some avid football fans, there was a new super bowl on TV, also known as the presidential debate. Over 84 million viewers got their gear ready (in the form of snacks or political affiliation paraphernalia) and headed to the living room or a debate watch party, bar or restaurant. Rivaling the super bowl which usually draws on average 100 million viewers.
During the debate, each candidate was on a mission to draw in more voters by discussing their riveting views on current socioeconomic issues. As I watched each candidate explain their viewpoints and policies, I drew a parallel to the conversations that manufacturing companies often must have when discussing why they need a best-of-breed supply chain solution.
What is a Best of Breed Supply Chain Solution?
The phrase best-of-breed supply chain solution, although sometimes used in a broad-brush attempt to describe certain ERP functionalities, should be utilized in describing highly specialized supply chain solutions. Many all-in-one ERP solutions lack the functionality needed to create a truly tailored and optimized supply chain process focused on continuous improvement in service levels and cost reduction.
We hear horror stories on the failed promises of seemingly integrated ERP solutions that could do it all – but ended up short because it didn’t have the capability to be tailored to fit the exact business needs of a company. Leaving end users with the only logical choice of returning to their “error-prone” manual spreadsheet manipulation process that they had in the first place.
Related Whitepaper: What’s Wrong With Excel For Supply Chain Planning?
When this occurs, companies face the conundrum of either sticking with a solution that doesn’t work as well as expected or to make the bold decision of implementing a solution that’s focused on fixing a specific business challenge. Sometimes, it takes years for the supply chain team to win the internal debate on why there is a need to implement a best of breed solution that equips them with the ability to operate in more productive and cost efficient manner.
To help you win your discussion on why your organization needs a best of breed supply chain solution, here are a few conversational tips and strategies:
Connectivity: Implementing a best of breed supply chain solution without disintegration
Many IT managers are often concerned (rightfully so) about integration issues when it comes to selecting a best of breed supply chain solution. To avoid falling in love with a supply chain solution and then having IT at loggerheads because the solution doesn’t integrate with your current systems, it’s critical to ask questions early on in the process to unearth if a system has in-built integrations to your current back-office systems such as your ERP. Additionally, it helps if your chosen supply chain solution uses the same database system such as Microsoft SQL Server instead of a proprietary database.
Support: Choose vendors that offer a highly supported system to make internal IT support easier
Selecting a solution with a full-service IT support team helps when making the business case for why a best of breed solution is the better choice. Essentially, supply chain solution providers that offer a full in-house IT support team gives your internal IT team the peace of mind needed because they know they can rely on an experienced team for support if needed. Support availability also helps in reducing the ramp-up and user adaptability period.
Scalability: Dispelling Best of Breed myth on inability to scale by selecting a configurable system
Scalability is sometimes a concern for businesses looking to implement a best of breed supply chain solution. Often there is the need to dispel the myth on best of breed solutions not scaling quickly to match growing business needs because they are highly specialized. Conversely, the implementation of best of breed supply chain solutions that are in modular fashion offers far more scalability are often more cost efficient. Essentially, businesses can implement supply chain project needs for today while creating a road map for other requirements in the future. Your chosen software solution’s ability to scale as your business often grows hinges on the ability to quickly configure the preferred solution without breaking the bank.
Deployment: Select a solution that offers you multiple deployment options to avoid pushback
While fully cloud-based supply chain solutions provide end users the flexibility needed, they may not meet required industry or internal IT requirements. Similarly, supply chain solutions with only on-premises deployment option may not offer your business with the best-fit solution for today’s mobile workforce. Having the flexibility to choose your deployment option for all or certain parts of your supply chain solution prevents internal IT pushback.
ROI: Perform a full ROI analysis to add monetary value
At the end of the day, most businesses make decisions with the overall goal of improving bottom-line results. An improvement in productivity and service levels leads to longevity in customer relationships, leading to more repeat purchases. While a reduction in inventory levels due to a more accurate forecast and an increase in working capital. It helps to quantify the expected results from your supply chain implementation project to allow business executives see the overall business impact.
Just like any debate, the key to winning the business case on why you need a “best of breed” supply chain solution starts with preparation and ends with delivering a convincing argument. Understanding your current business requirements from both an IT infrastructure and business standpoint aids in making better decisions when selecting the best fit supply chain solution.