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供应链管理ABC

原创 Linux操作系统 作者:icetea_cn 时间:2008-03-04 14:29:58 0 删除 编辑
以前翻译的一篇文章:供应链管理ABC
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供应链管理ABC

1.什么是供应链管理

供应链是一种关于整合的科学和艺术,它主要的探究提高企业采购生产商品所需原材料、生产商品并把它供应给最终顾客的效率的途径。以下是供应链管理的五个基本组成模块:

1.计划--它是供应链的战略层面。企业需要有一个控制所有资源的战略以满足客户对产品或服务的需求。计划的核心是建立一套机制去监控整条供应链以便使它能有效运作:成本最低、高品质配送和增值客户服务。该模块连结着供应链的作业与营运目标,主要包括需求/供给规划(Demand/Supply Planning)与规划基础建设(infrastructure)的管理两项活动,对所有采购运筹流程、制造运筹流程与配送运筹流程进行规划与控制。需求/供给规划活动包含了评估企业整体产能与资源、总体需求规划以及针对产品与配销管道,进行存货规划、配送规划、制造规划、物料及产能的规划。规划基础建设的管理包含了自制或外包决策的制定、供应链的架构设计、长期产能与资源规划、企业规划、产品生命周期的决定、新旧产品线规划与产品线的管理等。

2.采购—选择供给你用来生产产品或服务的原材料或服务的供应商。和供应商建立一套价格、供应、支付过程的体系,创造一种机制以监控此过程、改善供应商关系。理顺此过程以管理供应商交付的原材料库存或服务,其中包括收货、出货、检验、中转和批准支付。此模块有采购作业与采购基础建设的管理两项活动,其目的是描述一般的采购作业与采购管理流程。采购作业包含了寻找供货商、收料、进料品检、拒收与发料作业。采购基础建设的管理包含了供货商评估、采购、运输管理、采购品质管理、采购合约管理、付款条件管理、采购零组件的规格制定。

3.制造—这是制造步骤。计划这些必需的活动:生产、测试、包装、预出货。作为供应链的核心机制,它意味着质量水平、产品输出和工厂产能的有效控制。此模块具有制造执行作业与制造基础建设的管理两项活动,其目的是描述制造生产作业与生产的管理流程。制造执行作业包含了领料、产品制造、产品测试与包装出货等。制造基础建设的管理包含了工程变更、生产状况掌握、生产品质管理、现场排程制定、短期产能规划与现场设备管理等。

4.配送—许多权威人士都把它归咎为物流的一部分。它包括客户下达的订单,建立仓库网络,选择承运商,分发货物给客户,建立收款制度等。本模块包含订单管理、仓储管理、运输管理与配送基础建设的管理等四项活动,其目的是描述销售(sales)与配送(distribution)的一般作业与管理流程。订单管理作业包含了接单、报价、顾客资料维护、订单分配、产品价格资料维护、应收账款维护、授信与开立发票等流程。仓储管理作业包含了拣料、按包装明细将产品包装入柜、确认交货地点与运送货物等流程。运输管理作业包含产品运输方式安排、进出口管理、货品安装适宜规划、进行安装与产品试行(例如,销售大型机器给顾客,须先帮忙安装完毕,然后进行试车)。配送基础建设的管理包括配送管道的决策制定、配送存货管理、配送品质的掌握与销售管理法的制定。

5.回收—供应链的难题之一。这需要创建一个网络以接收那些从客户返回的缺陷产品或过剩产品,支持对接收到的货物产生质疑的客户。以退回的货物的属性分,包括:不良品、间接物料(MRO)、过剩成品。以退货作业的对象分,包括:顾客对供货商、供货商对顾客。以对于退货响应方式包括:核准作业、退货排程、退换作业、销毁作业。

2.供应链管理软件能干什么

供应链管理软件可能是这个星球上最分散的应用软件。以前五个主要的供应链模块中的每一个都是涵盖了至少一打不同的作业,这些作业又都有他们各自独特的软件来支持。因此有一些大的软件供应商尝试将这些不同的软件模块整合在一个平台之上,但是由于种种因素没有一家供应商能有一个完整的软件包,整合这些不同的软件模块已成为他们的噩梦。或许建置供应链软件最好的途径是把他们拆分开:帮助企业计划供应链的软件和帮助企业执行供应链的软件。

供应链计划(SCP)软件使用独特的数学算法来帮助企业减少存货,提高供应链运作效率。供应链计划软件完全依靠精确的数据来运行。例如,一个制造厂商,如果不能提供最新的客户订单信息、分销商的库存信息、工厂制造能力信息、配送能力给供应链计划软件,就不要期望供应链计划软件能跑出精确的你所期望的结果。供应链计划软件适用于先前提到的供应链的五个主要模块,他的核心在于需求计划--企业能生产多少产品来满足不同的客户需求。

供应链执行(SCE)软件的功能是使供应链的不同步骤自动化。它通过信息排程的方式将订单从生产工厂传递给原材料供应商。

3.在安装供应链管理软件之前需要有企业资源计划软件吗

这是一个非常有争议的问题。一般的,如果企业计划安装供应链计划软件,那么企业可能首先要有企业资源计划软件,因为供应链计划软件依赖各种信息才能良好的运转,而这些信息大部分在企业资源计划软件中都已经存在。理论上你可以从企业历史遗留下来的系统(对于大多数企业来说,EXCEL表在各种不同的地方都有使用)中收集供应链计划软件所需的各种数据,但是要快速、可靠的从企业的各个部门搜集其所有所需的信息简直就是一场恶梦。然而企业资源计划软件就是一个整合所有信息的有效工具。如果企业已经建置了企业资源计划软件,供应链计划软件就有了一个单一稳定的数据源。许多准备安装供应链计划软件的CIO声称他们会首先安装企业资源计划软件,他们称企业资源计划项目为“建立舒适的信息储藏室”。当然,建立企业资源计划系统花费昂贵并且非常困难,因此如果没有首先安装企业资源计划软件那就需要一条为供应链计划软件提供所需数据的方法。

供应链执行软件较少的依靠来自企业的各种集成信息,因此受企业资源计划软件的约束较少。但是在另一方面,供应链执行软件必须能通过不同的方式与企业资源计划软件进行数据交换。现在供应链执行软件与互联网、企业资源计划软件、供应链计划软件的数据交互能力显得尤为重要。举个例子,企业想建立一个联接客户和供应商的WEB站点,就必须从SCE,SCP和ERP中提取最新的有关订单、结算、制造状况、配送等数据。

4.安装供应链管理软件的目标是什么

在互联网时代到来之前,人们对供应链软件的期望被局限在提高企业预测客户需求的能力和保证供应链更平稳的运行。但是随着互联网的普及,它事实上已成为公认的网际时代数据交换的标准方式。现在,理论上企业可以将自己的供应链与客户和供应商的供应链连结在一起,形成一个单一的、巨大的供应网络,进而优化成本、发现机会:这在以前对每个企业来说都是非常棘手的。这也是B2B兴起的重要原因:每一个与你发生商业行为的团体都能被连结在一起,形成一个合作互赢的大团体。

当然,这些技术能够带来效益还需要一段时间。但是鉴于B2B只是经过了短短几年,在一些行业的应用已经取得了显著的进步,像快速消费品行业、高科技制造业、汽车制造业。当你问及那些行业的领先者,他们期望在未来从供应链中得到什么,他们所有的回答只有一个词:可见性。多数行业的供应链就像一场大的扑克牌游戏:玩家不会展示他的牌因为他不相信其他的任何游戏参与者,尽管如果他展示他手中的牌他肯定会受益。所以供应商得去猜测有多少原材料会被订购。制造商得去从供应商那里订购超过需求的原材料以确保如果有不确定的客户需求的到来。零售商几乎没有缺货,如果他肯让制造商分享相关产品的销售信息。互联网使企业展示手中的信息给其他企业成为可能,但是千百年来的不信任和缺乏平等机制使他变得非常困难。

5.什么是供应链协同

让我们看一个快速消费品行业的协同案例:沃尔马(Wal-Mart)和宝洁(Procter & Gamble)的供应链协同。在上世纪八十年代两家公司开始建立供应链协同机制之前,零售商很少与制造商分享信息。但是两个巨人开发了一套软件系统用以联接宝洁和沃尔马的配送中心,当在沃尔马配送中心的宝洁产品库存下降到一定水平时,这个系统会发出一个自动的警报给宝洁,从而执行一个补货的动作。这个信息系统至始至终联接着沃尔马的所有商店,它让宝洁可以监控沃尔马货架上宝洁产品存量的变化。当宝洁的某个品项存货发生突然下降时,可以通过实时的卫星链路将信息发送回工厂。

依靠这些实时的信息,宝洁知道应该什么时候生产、出货,在沃尔马的商店里陈列多少产品,不需要位置堆积如山的库存来保证对沃尔马的供货,并且结算和发票处理业实现了自动化。这个系统帮助宝洁实现了时间的节约、库存的降低和低的订单处理成本,从而也实现了沃尔马“天天低价”的目标。

思科系统(Cisco Systems),一家互联网设备供应商,也因为它的供应链协同而出名。思科通过连接供应商、集成商、契约制造商的增值网构筑了一个虚拟的JIT(just-in-time)供应链。当一个客户订购了思科的产品时,比如说客户直接通过思科的WEB站点订购了一台路由器,这个订单将会触发一大堆信息给集成电路板的契约制造商。同时,集成商也得到路由器的加工信息:比如说为路由器安装一个供电电源。思科的契约制造商有一些是从事路由器基座之类的零部件生产,还有一些是组装成品,他们已经知道都应该为这台路由器安装哪些零件,安装工序是什么,因为他们已经通过思科的增值网连接着思科的制造执行系统。

契约制造商进入思科的增值网后,增值网会开始检查契约制造商的生产线,确认哪条是合适于生产路由器的。生产厂会粘贴一个条码给路由器,插进电线以模拟检测它对各种不同网络化境的适应。完成之后对比它是否与客户订单符合。如果这些都检查没有问题,然后就要写入思科的软件系统,最后就可以出货给客户。

思科依靠这个强大的软件程序来无论何时何地都可以监控整个供应链,并且不再有仓库、存货、纸质发票。供应链可以自动运行,如果有问题出现,软件会发出警报给管理人员来解决问题,修补错误。供应链软件管理员称之为“管理例外”,如果没有错误发生就不需要做什么事情。

如果说这个供应链协同软件有什么弱点,就是说他们没有得到充分的检验,特别是在现在。思科的网络被设计成用来支持企业的快速增长。 分布式的制造决策是非常好用的,如果决策能处理制造和销售过程中的大部分事情。但是思科的网络对于近来的经济波动几乎完全没有办法适应。当客户对思科产品的需求飞速下降时,它要花费大量的时间来调整所有的流程以适应复杂的供应链,思科和它的供应链伙伴也会受到大量过程库存的欺骗,这也是大型高科技制造企业的通病。思科被迫更加关注它的供应链计划能力。

6.安装供应链软件的障碍是什么

1.得到你的供应商和合作伙伴的信任

自动化供应链之所以难以实现是因为它的复杂性已经超出了单个企业所能控制的范围。企业员工需要改变工作方式,并且也需要把供应商的员工纳入自己的网络。只有最大、最强有力的生产厂商才能使供应商做出如此剧烈的转变。许多企业将系统外包,而且安装供应链软件的目标对供应商也是一种威胁。例如,沃尔马和宝洁的供应链协同意味着宝洁对库存管理要付出更多的责任,一些零售商传统上自己管理库存。沃尔马有权利从宝洁得到自己需求的数量,宝结也从沃尔马那里得到了有关沃尔马产品需求的反馈信息,这帮助宝洁更有效率的生产产品。为了让你的合作伙伴答应和你协同,企业家不得不自愿妥协并帮助供应商实现他们的目标。

2.内部反抗变革的阻力

既然在外部推行供应链系统都比较困难,它在企业内部的推行也好不到哪儿去。操作人员习惯于靠电话、传真、纸质单据来传递信息,并且期望能保留这种做法。除非你能使他们确信使用供应链软件之后能节约他们的时间减轻他们的工作负担。而不是仅仅拆除电话和传真机用供应链取代它们。

许多问题在起初供应链软件安装时就会发生,对于让员工接受供应链软件来说会有一连串麻烦的问题。新的供应链软件按照自身的逻辑来来处理数据,但是软件在起初刚开始安置时不能完全适应企业的流程。计划员它们应该懂得如何从系统中挖掘有用信息,否则它们就会认为供应链系统是无用的。举个例子,一个汽车工业供应商刚刚安装了供应链计划软件来预测产品的需求之后,一个汽车制造商下达了一张罕有巨大数量的订单,由于没有历史数据,这个系统就会基于这张订单预测市场对这种产品有巨大的需求。盲目的根据不确切的原材料订单将会导致供应商失去对供应链的控制。企业发现了这个问题但是只能等到需求计划员熟练的掌握系统之后。

其它可能产生的问题包括:需求计划员产生对系统的不信任转而依靠自己的经验预测。供应商不得不自己对系统进行调整并为重新建立员工的信息而付出努力。一旦员工懂得需要用他们的经验和系统结合起来才能提高预测的精确度,他们就会乐意接受新技术。

7.许多B2B交易软件声称他们能提供供应链软件。我使用他们的还是安装自己的

公众的B2B交易和不公开的B2B交易都起源于线上拍卖这一形式,但是只有很少数人对此感兴趣。其后,其中的部分WEB站点变种为供应链软件的在线中心。对于不能购买供应链软件的小公司来说,公众的B2B交易软件或许能提供它们所需要的资源。但是现在他们中的大多数都还不成熟,用处不大。那些有实力建设私有B2B交易软件与他们的贸易伙伴联接的供应还是希望自己建设而不是采用公众B2B交易。但是最终这些公司最终还是会采用公众的B2B交易,显然自己建设和维护B2B交易软件不是一个好办法,因为一旦出了什么问题企业就需要自行处理。

野心勃勃的公众B2B交易依靠它们的独立和中立,希望能够聚集更多的买家和供应商在自己的平台上。但是一个公众的B2B交易供应链软件在细节上从来也没有达到企业建立的和少数供应链联接的私有B2B交易软件的水平。因此,许多制造厂商说在日常的供应链联接种它们会使用公众的B2B交易,但是在战略层面还是会建立私有的供应链交换平台。
 


原文出自:http://www.cio.com/research/scm/edit/012202_scm.html

原文如下:

The ABCs of Supply Chain Management
By Christopher Koch

What is supply chain management?
What does supply chain software do?
Do I need to install ERP software before supply chain software?
What is the goal of supply chain management software?
What is supply chain collaboration?
What are the roadblocks to installing supply chain software?
Should I use the software that B2B exchanges offer or install my own?

What is supply chain management?
Supply chain management is the combination of art and science that goes into improving the way your company finds the raw components it needs to make a product or service, manufactures that product or service and delivers it to customers. The following are five basic components for supply chain management.

1. Plan-This is the strategic portion of supply chain management. You need a strategy for managing all the resources that go toward meeting customer demand for your product or service. A big piece of planning is developing a set of metrics to monitor the supply chain so that it is efficient, costs less and delivers high quality and value to customers.

2. Source-Choose the suppliers that will deliver the goods and services you need to create your product or service. Develop a set of pricing, delivery and payment processes with suppliers and create metrics for monitoring and improving the relationships. And put together processes for managing the inventory of goods and services you receive from suppliers, including receiving shipments, verifying them, transferring them to your manufacturing facilities and authorizing supplier payments.

3. Make-This is the manufacturing step. Schedule the activities necessary for production, testing, packaging and preparation for delivery. As the most metric-intensive portion of the supply chain, measure quality levels, production output and worker productivity.

4. Deliver-This is the part that many insiders refer to as "logistics." Coordinate the receipt of orders from customers, develop a network of warehouses, pick carriers to get products to customers and set up an invoicing system to receive payments.

5. Return-The problem part of the supply chain. Create a network for receiving defective and excess products back from customers and supporting customers who have problems with delivered products.

For a more detailed outline of these steps, check out the nonprofit Supply- CChain Council's website at www.supply-chain.org.


What does supply chain management software do?
Supply chain management software is possibly the most fractured group of software applications on the planet. Each of the five major supply chain steps previously outlined composes dozens of specific tasks, many of which have their own specific software. There are some large vendors that have attempted to assemble many of these different chunks of software together under a single roof, but no one has a complete package. Integrating the different software pieces together can be a nightmare. Perhaps the best way to think about supply chain software is to separate it into software that helps you plan the supply chain and software that helps you execute the supply chain steps themselves.

Supply chain planning (SCP) software uses fancy math algorithms to help you improve the flow and efficiency of the supply chain and reduce inventory. SCP is entirely dependent upon information for its accuracy. If you're a manufacturer of consumer packaged goods for example, don't expect your planning applications to be very accurate if you can't feed them accurate, up-to-date information about customer orders from your retail customers, sales data from your retailer customers' stores, manufacturing capacity and delivery capability. There are planning applications available for all five of the major supply chain steps previously listed. Arguably the most valuable (and complex and prone to error) is demand planning, which determines how much product you will make to satisfy your different customers' demands.

Supply chain execution (SCE) software is intended to automate the different steps of the supply chain. This could be as simple as electronically routing orders from your manufacturing plants to your suppliers for the stuff you need to make your products.


 For an expanded overview of this topic, read the Supply Chain Executive Summary.
 
 

Do I need to have ERP software before I install supply chain software?
This is a very controversial subject. You may need ERP if you plan to install SCP applications because they are reliant upon the kind of information that is stored in the most quantity inside ERP software. Theoretically you could assemble the information you need to feed the SCP applications from legacy systems (for most companies this means Excel spreadsheets spread out all over the place), but it can be nightmarish to try to get that information flowing on a fast, reliable basis from all the areas of the company. ERP is the battering ram that integrates all that information together in a single application, and SCP applications benefit from having a single major source to go to for up-to-date information. Most CIOs who have tried to install SCP applications say they are glad they did ERP first. They call the ERP projects "putting your information house in order." Of course, ERP is expensive and difficult, so you may want to explore ways to feed your SCP applications the information they need without doing ERP first.

SCE applications are less dependent upon gathering information from around the company, so they tend to be independent of the ERP decision. But chances are, you'll need to have the SCE applications communicate with ERP in some fashion. It's important to pay attention to SCE software's ability to integrate with the Internet and with ERP or SCP applications because the Internet will drive demand for integrated information. For example, if you want to build a private website for communicating with your customers and suppliers, you will want to pull information from SCE, SCP and ERP applications together to present updated information about orders, payments, manufacturing status and delivery.


What is the goal of installing supply chain management software?
Before the Internet came along, the aspirations of supply chain software devotees were limited to improving their ability to predict demand from customers and make their own supply chains run more smoothly. But the cheap, ubiquitous nature of the Internet, along with its simple, universally accepted communication standards have thrown things wide open. Now, theoretically anyway, you can connect your supply chain with the supply chains of your suppliers and customers together in a single vast network that optimizes costs and opportunities for everyone involved. This was the reason for the B2B explosion; the idea that everyone you do business with could be connected together into one big happy, cooperative family.

Of course, the reality behind this vision is that it will take years to come to fruition. But considering that B2B has only been around for a few years, some industries have already made great progress, most notably consumer-packaged goods (the companies that make products that go to supermarkets and drug stores), high technology and autos.

When you ask the people on the front lines in these industries what they hope to gain from their supply chain efforts in the near term, they will all respond with a single word: visibility. The supply chain in most industries is like a big card game. The players don't want to show their cards because they don't trust anyone else with the information. But if they showed their hands they could all benefit. Suppliers wouldn't have to guess how much raw materials to order, and manufacturers wouldn't have to order more than they need from suppliers to make sure they have enough on hand if demand for their products unexpectedly goes up. And retailers would have fewer empty shelves if they shared the information they had about sales of a manufacturer's product in all their stores with the manufacturer. The Internet makes showing your hand to others possible, but centuries of distrust and lack of coordination within industries make it difficult.


What is supply chain collaboration?
Let's look at consumer packaged goods as an example of collaboration. If there are two companies that have made supply chain a household word, they are Wal-Mart and Procter & Gamble. Before these two companies started collaborating back in the '80s, retailers shared very little information with manufacturers. But then the two giants built a software system that hooked P&G up to Wal-Mart's distribution centers. When P&G's products run low at the distribution centers, the system sends an automatic alert to P&G to ship more products. In some cases, the system goes all the way to the individual Wal-Mart store. It lets P&G monitor the shelves through real-time satellite link-ups that send messages to the factory whenever a P&G item swoops past a scanner at the register.

With this kind of minute-to-minute information, P&G knows when to make, ship and display more products at the Wal-Mart stores. No need to keep products piled up in warehouses awaiting Wal-Mart's call. Invoicing and payments happen automatically too. The system saves P&G so much in time, reduced inventory and lower order-processing costs that it can afford to give Wal-Mart "low, everyday prices" without putting itself out of business.

Cisco Systems, which makes equipment to hook up to the Internet, is also famous for its supply chain collaboration. Cisco has a network of component suppliers, distributors and contract manufacturers that are linked through Cisco's extranet to form. a virtual, just-in-time supply chain. When a customer orders a typical Cisco product-for example, a router that directs Internet traffic over a company network-through Cisco's website, the order triggers a flurry of messages to contract manufacturers of printed circuit board assemblies. Distributors, meanwhile, are alerted to supply the generic components of the router, such as a power supply. Cisco's contract manufacturers, some of whom make subassemblies like the router chassis and others who assemble the finished product, already know what's coming down the order pipe because they've logged on to Cisco's extranet and linked in to Cisco's own manufacturing execution systems.

Soon after the contract manufacturers reach into Cisco's extranet, the extranet starts poking around the contractor's assembly line to make sure everything is kosher. Factory assemblers slap a bar code on the router, scan it and plug in cables that simulate those of a typical corporate network. One of those cables is a fire hose for Cisco's automated testing software. It looks up the bar code, matches it to a customer's order and then probes the nascent router to see if it has all the ports and memory that the customer wanted. If everything checks out-and only then-Cisco's software releases the customer name and shipping information so that the subcontractor can get it off the shop floor.

And there you have it. No warehouses, no inventory, no paper invoices, just a very nosy software program that monitors Cisco's supply chain automatically, in real-time, everywhere, simultaneously. The chain runs itself until there's a problem, in which case the system alerts some poor human to get off his duff and fix something. Supply chain software junkies call this "management by exception." You don't need to do anything unless there is something wrong.

If there's a weakness to these collaborative systems, it's that they haven't been tested in tough times-until recently. Cisco's network was designed to handle the company's huge growth. Distributed decision making is great if the decisions have mostly to do with making and selling more things. But Cisco and its network were caught completely off guard by the recent tumble in the economy. It took awhile to turn all the spigots off in its complex network when demand for its products plummeted and Cisco and its supply chain partners got stuck with a lot of excess inventory-as did most other big manufacturers in high technology. Cisco was forced to take a hard look at its supply chain planning capability. SCP software is much better at managing growth than it is at monitoring a decline and correcting it.


What are the roadblocks to installing supply chain software?
Gaining trust from your suppliers and partners.

Supply chain automation is uniquely difficult because its complexity extends beyond your company's walls. Your people will need to change the way they work and so will the people from each supplier that you add to your network. Only the largest and most powerful manufacturers can force such radical changes down suppliers' throats. Most companies have to sell outsiders on the system. Moreover, your goals in installing the system may be threatening to those suppliers, to say the least. For example, Wal-Mart's collaboration with P&G meant that P&G would assume more responsibility for inventory management, something retailers have traditionally done on their own. Wal-Mart had the clout to demand this from P&G, but it also gave P&G something in return-better information about Wal-Mart's product demand, which helped P&G manufacture its products more efficiently. To get your supply chain partners to agree to collaborate with you, you have to be willing to compromise and help them achieve their own goals.

Internal resistance to change.

If selling supply chain systems is difficult on the outside, it isn't much easier inside. Operations people are accustomed to dealing with phone calls, faxes and hunches scrawled on paper, and will most likely want to keep it that way. If you can't convince people that using the software will be worth their time, they will easily find ways to work around it. You cannot disconnect the telephones and fax machines just because you have supply chain software in place.

Many mistakes at first. There is a diabolical twist to the quest for supply chain software acceptance among your employees. New supply chain systems process data as they are programmed to do, but the technology cannot absorb a company's history and processes in the first few months after an implementation. Forecasters and planners need to understand that the first bits of information they get from a system might need some tweaking. If they are not warned about the system's initial naiveté, they will think it is useless. In one case, just before a large automotive industry supplier installed a new supply chain forecasting application to predict demand for a product, an automaker put in an order for an unusually large number of units. The system responded by predicting huge demand for the product based largely on one unusual order. Blindly following the system's numbers could have led to inaccurate orders for materials being sent to suppliers within the chain. The company caught the problem but only after a demand forecaster threw out the system's numbers and used his own.

That created another problem: Forecasters stopped trusting the system and worked strictly with their own data. The supplier had to fine-tune the system itself, then work on reestablishing employees' confidence. Once employees understood that they would be merging their expertise with the system's increasing accuracy, they began to accept and use the new technology.


Many B2B exchanges say they offer supply chain software. Should I use their software or install my own?

Public (many-to-many) B2B exchanges and private (you to everyone else in your supply chain) exchanges began with grand promises of auctions and procurement savings for members, but few suppliers were tempted. Since then, most of these websites have morphed into becoming online hosts for supply chain software. For small companies that can't afford to buy the software on their own, the public exchanges will probably be their source. But for now many of the offerings are immature and aren't getting much use. Companies that can afford to are building their own private connections with their trading partners online rather than going through public exchanges. But even these companies will eventually use the public exchanges when they can. Building and maintaining software just isn't a great deal if there's someone out there willing to do it for you.

The ambitious public exchanges, with their independence and neutrality, hold out the hope of attracting more buyers and suppliers together in one place, but the level of specificity of a public exchange's supply chain software will probably never reach the depth that a company could build with a select few suppliers in a private exchange. So most decision makers are saying they will use public exchanges for the generic supply chain connections they make, and build their own for the really strategic deep, supply chain relationships they have.

Christopher Koch, Executive Editor, Investigations can be reached at ckoch@cio.com.

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