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How to Choose the Best Supply Chain Planning Tool

Selecting the perfect Supply Chain Planning tool is more than just picking software off the shelf. It’s a nuanced process involving understanding different features, long-term commitments, and overcoming deployment challenges.

The Realities of Supply Chain Software Deployment

Supply chain software deployments often take longer than expected, with user adoption being a significant hurdle. Opting for solutions from historical vendors might seem safe but could lead to complex and costly outcomes due to outdated technology.

Consulting and RFP Processes

Consulting firms occasionally have preferred vendors they promote, and Request for Proposal (RFP) processes can have limitations. However, these factors may not always perfectly align with your company’s best interests. So what to do?

A Practical Guide to Choosing the Right Tool

Despite no one-size-fits-all solution, some effective strategies include:

  • Define the Problem Clearly: Start by framing a specific problem your company is facing. Detail this problem thoroughly, describing your IT landscape and existing workflows without jumping into potential solutions prematurely.
  • Engage Multiple Providers: Ask 8-10 solution providers to submit a one-pager explaining how they would address your problem and integrate with your IT environment.
  • Conduct Targeted Demos: From the submissions, select the top three providers and provide them with some data to demonstrate their proposed solutions.
  • Run a Pilot Program: Implement a 3-6 month pilot with your preferred solution, including an opt-out clause. Ensure that the interface developed during this pilot could be utilized by other vendors if needed.
  • Dedicate Resources to the Pilot: Assign a dedicated project manager and key user to the pilot to ensure its success.
  • Evaluate and Decide: After the pilot, conduct a thorough review (“retex”) to decide whether to continue with the current solution or try another. This step is crucial to ensure that the solution meets your needs before fully committing.
  • Scale Fast: If the pilot proves successful, consider tackling another problem with the same vendor before fully scaling the solution.

Conclusion

Investing time in finding the right Supply Chain Planning tool pays off. A targeted, data-driven, and user-focused approach reduces risks and enhances value realization. By focusing on actual needs and real-world performance, companies can find a solution that not only fits their current environment but also supports future growth and adaptation.