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What is Supply Chain Planning Software and How Can it be Used Effectively? Part 1

Blog: Apriso Blog

Facility showing supply chain efficiency

In this blog series, I’ll take a look at the current state and future evolution that can be expected within the world of supply chain planning software through the lens of Dassault Systèmes DELMIA.

You will discover:

What is supply chain planning?

Before I get into the software itself, it is useful to start with something of a definition of the supply chain management process itself prior to moving on to the solutions that support it.

A compact definition is especially useful in this case, as supply chain planning software comes in so many guises and has so many functions. It can be daunting to navigate the landscape of modules and features, even for long standing veterans of the industry.

For the purpose of this blog, I will make use of the Association for Supply Chain Management (ASCM) definition as follows:

Supply chain management is defined as, “The design, planning, execution, control, and monitoring of supply chain activities with the objective of creating net value, building a competitive infrastructure, leveraging worldwide logistics, synchronizing supply with demand, and measuring performance globally.”

From this definition alone, several planning puzzles that any software solution will need to cover in order to meet the multifaceted challenges posed by supply chain management (SCM) are revealed.

For example, several potential topics can be selected from this definition such as:

For each of these areas, one or more software applications may be used, either as a collection of best-of-breed solutions, or as part of a fully integrated digital platform. Whichever approach is taken, the key objectives of this software solution can be typically summarized into three core areas:

  1. Improved visibility
  2. Improved decision making
  3. Improved collaboration

Why do manufacturers need an effective supply chain plan?

Necessity, as the saying goes, is the mother of invention. The necessity for the advanced supply chain planning software solutions comes from the ever-increasing size, scope, complexity, and interconnectedness of today’s supply chain networks.

It is no longer sufficient to strategize in months, plan in weeks and execute in days. Instead real-time network status updates and immediate propagation of the consequences across the supply chain network to trigger immediate updates to the planning proposals–including automated scenario generation and scoring–is the order of the day.  Leading companies strive to have the right product in the right place at the right time for the right price with the right margin. Add to this  the lowest environmental impact possible.

Without an effective supply chain plan, manufactures cannot make accurate and timely decisions on what to buy, what to make, what to move, what to stock, when to launch and when to discontinue. They are left with the reactive, fixed, inflexible solutions of the past. This leads to poor visibility, limited collaboration and—worst of all—poor decision making.

Key elements of supply chain planning  

As you saw from the earlier definition, supply chain planning software needs to include a wide variety of planning puzzles in order to be able to cover the full gamut of challenges faced.

Supply chain graph led by Business Planning procedure depicting various “puzzles” or scenarios

Most software solutions are only able to cover a limited number of areas, but with DELMIA all aspects are fully addressed.  

Key elements of supply chain showing the logical steps between predictive solutions and workforce planning

Referring back to the planning topics contained within the ASCM definition, each one is covered with a fully integrated planning suite including:

The plan with the highest score will be proposed, along with a number of alternative scenarios for consideration.   

Look for Part 2 of this blog series next week,

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