Find the latest facts on supply chain management right here. Keep your business well-stocked with products and other supplies by using smart strategies to keep your supply chains running strong. You can also learn more about Fishbowl's supply chain management software.
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What Is Supply Chain Management?
Supply chain management is the process of managing goods as they move from the manufacturer to the consumer. This involves managing a whole lot of infrastructure, such as numerous vehicles, skilled personnel, inventory on shelves and in transit, and general finances.
This is a daunting task for both global supply chains and local supply chains. Global supply chains must deal with multiple currencies, currency exchange rates, taxes, duties, other landed costs, international shipping rates, and many other factors that don’t play into local supply chains.
Even though they’re less complex than their global counterparts, local supply chains are no picnic. They require a lot of planning to be successful. Companies still have to work with shippers, vendors, and warehouse workers to make everything flow smoothly from one location to another. They also have to make accurate estimates of their inventory needs by setting up automatic reorder points and measuring sales over time to spot trends in demand. All of this work allows a company to maintain equilibrium in their inventory levels and avoid unnecessary carrying costs.
No matter the scope of your supply chains, you can definitely benefit from this information. There are three main processes to be managed and tracked in a supply chain:
- Product Tracking
- Information Tracking
- Finance Tracking
Let’s break down each one and talk about their importance in greater detail.
Product tracking seems pretty self-explanatory. It’s the process of monitoring the number of products you have in stock, how many you need to reorder, and where they are in terms of being shipped to you or being shipped out from your warehouse. Inventory management is the challenge of tracking all of your company’s parts and sellable goods. Inventory software is the only way to do this effectively and accurately because manual tracking and spreadsheets are obsolete and unreliable.
If even one order fails to get added manually to a spreadsheet or someone enters the wrong number, your inventory records may wind up being completely inaccurate and not reflecting the actual condition of your inventory. Worse yet, you could accidentally end up with too much inventory or too little because you’ll make decisions based on faulty data. The only way to be sure of how much inventory you have on hand, in a manual system, is to perform cycle counts all the time to fix mistakes.
An automated system takes a lot of that burden off your hands and allows you to cycle count your inventory much less often. That’s because as soon as a product’s barcode is scanned to order more inventory or to pick and sell it to a customer, your inventory records are automatically updated for you. There’s very little worry about data entry errors or other problems that are so prevalent under a manual system.
Barcoding and point of sale are also essential parts of this process as they serve as they bridge the gap between tracking what’s on the shelf and what shows up in your system.
Information tracking goes beyond just tracking inventory. It’s much more general and all-encompassing than that. Managing employee time, product reorder points, and capital allocated is also necessary for just about any business that intends to keep its operations going without a hitch.
This delves into the functionality of a full business automation platform, which can manage all of a company’s resources. You see, no single software solution can possibly do everything you need it to do to manage your entire business. QuickBooks and Xero are great for accounting. Amazon, eBay, and Etsy are great e-commerce platforms. BigCommerce, Magento, Shopify, and Volusion are all great online shopping carts. FedEx, UPS, and the United States Postal Service are great for shipping. Salesforce is a high-quality CRM. But imagine trying to use Salesforce as an accounting solution or QuickBooks as a shipping solution or Amazon as a CRM. That is utterly nonsensical. You can only use software in the way it was intended to be used. You can use it to fulfill its purpose, but no more than that.
Information tracking can, thus, become siloed and boxed in by the constraints of each solution if you’re not careful. Double data entry is a common symptom of this type of information tracking. When you enter a transaction (be it a sale, transfer, or order) into one system, you will also have to add it to any other system affected by that transaction. For example, if you make a sale through a website like eBay, you will also most likely have to update the available quantity on all of your other e-commerce platforms to avoid committing the same inventory to different orders. You will also have to contact the appropriate shipper to begin the order fulfillment process. Then you’ll need to send that information to your accounting solution to create an invoice and update the general ledger with the change in your finances that results from it. Oh, and you can’t forget to modify your inventory records, whether in a spreadsheet or in a more formal inventory system.
That’s a lot of work for a single transaction!
It would be so much easier if you could have a system in place that would do this work for you. That’s where a business automation platform comes in handy. Your inventory system acts as a central hub for all of your information tracking. When an order comes in from one e-commerce platform it automatically gets transferred to the inventory system and then recorded in your accounting solution. Your other e-commerce accounts also get updated. You can instantly check shipping rates from your designated shipper and then speedily pick, pack and ship the order out the door. When every system is communicating with each other, information tracking becomes much faster and easier.
Finance tracking is clearly part of information tracking, but it deserves to be mentioned by itself because of how important it is. Keeping track of all finances can be a real headache, but it is essential in making sure you can cover your expenses and get the optimal return on products sold. Most accounting systems are separate from inventory systems, but the fortunate fact is that business automation platforms like Fishbowl integrate with QuickBooks and allow you to keep all of your financial data centralized and up to date.
As mentioned before, whenever an order is placed or received through Fishbowl, it can get automatically transferred to QuickBooks via a seamless integration. Fishbowl is the No. 1 selling manufacturing and warehouse management solution for QuickBooks, and it has been for more than a decade. The reason for this is because Fishbowl works so well with QuickBooks. You can keep using the accounting solution you’re used to, even after you’ve outgrown its limited inventory features. Fishbowl gives you the ability to stay with QuickBooks for many years by adding a great deal of supply chain management features and other inventory management features that the accounting solution lacks. Eliminate double data entry, increase the accuracy of your accounting and inventory records, and always keep your data updated and easily accessible by the right people in your company by integrating Fishbowl and QuickBooks together.
Fishbowl is ideal for supply chain management and many other processes because it integrates with dozens of other business solutions to help them all work in harmony.