The logistics of managing a supply chain can appear quite daunting. There are so many moving parts, people, and schedules to keep track of. The keenest of individuals may think they can manage all of this in their heads, or even on an Excel spreadsheet, but they will most likely fail in the attempt. At some point your memory or your attention to detail will fail you or you’ll take time off and be let down by a replacement who wasn’t familiar with your system. Using automated processes and technology can fix this.
Automated System vs. Manual Methods
Let’s look at the processes a supply chain management system can automate:
Accounting Integration – Could you imagine having to manually merge your inventory records to match your account records? Tax season would be a nightmare. Make things easier on yourself, and your accountant, by having real-time accounting integration.
Managing Multiple Warehouse Locations – Supply chains get more complex when you add multiple warehouses. If you wanted distribution of your product to the entire continental U.S. you would need warehouses in several regions. How do you think Amazon is able to make Prime Shipping work? They definitely have multiple warehouses. The downside of this is keeping inventory management centralized in all of your warehouses. You obviously can’t be everywhere at once, and if you have your warehouse managers track their inventory levels separately, then keeping up with turnover would be another nightmare.
Inventory Management – If you’re still doing this manually then you’re living in the Stone Age. Even using an Excel spreadsheet is insufficient, though a step up from pen and paper. It would be a struggle to track inventory for 30+ SKU’s and keep track of the turnover and reorder points. Having an inventory management system for your supply chain is a necessity.
Order Management – If you’re a manufacturer you’re getting bulk orders from wholesalers and distributors; if you’re a wholesaler you’re getting smaller orders from retailers; and, of course, retailers are selling directly to the consumer. All of these orders change inventory levels and need to be accounted for. Having accurate reorder points is one of the most important parts of order management – knowing when and how much inventory to order.
Part Tracking – This is important for manufacturers, as they need to track raw materials and all the parts needed for a finished product. But it also applies to wholesalers and any other business that needs to keep track of its parts.
Shipping – Shipping costs vary from state to state, country to country, and they constantly change. This data needs to be updated with your order processing in real time. This is an absolute must-have for a supply chain system.
Multi-Currency – Supply chains are often global, and working with many different currencies is quite an undertaking. Fortunately, most supply chain management systems have a built-in currency converter.
Sales and Purchasing – Generating sales and purchase orders obviously is much easier when done digitally and by an automated system. You want to make the tedious and monotonous tasks less work intensive.
Reporting – Being able to see your inventory levels and inflow/outflow is incredibly valuable. It will allow you to evaluate your supply chain from a high-level perspective and make better forecasts and decisions.
Fishbowl Warehouse is the total supply chain management system and has all of the features we’ve discussed – QuickBooks Integration, managing multiple locations, inventory management, order management, part tracking, shipping integration, multi-currency, sales and purchasing, and much more.
There are software applications that can automate many supply chain processes, such as:
- Accounting integration
- Managing multiple warehouse locations
- Inventory management
- Order management
- Part tracking
- Sales and purchasing