What is Supply Chain?


A supply chain is a dynamic web of interactions among all the parties involved in supplying a product or service to a consumer. These interactions occur at every stage of the transformation of the raw material (supply) into the finished product (demand). In a highly-integrated and efficient supply chain, the entire process from the mining of the ore to the sale of the final product is seamless and virtually frictionless. Supply chains are often linked to other supply chains. If you want to find out where the products you purchase come from, find out who supplies them to you.

Transportation Management

System Transportation management system (TMS) refers to a software package that integrates multiple modes of transportation including ground, air, sea, and rail. The TMS is usually designed for use by a single shipper or user and typically includes a variety of modules that allow for integration with other enterprise applications. The TMS allows the shipping and transportation company to plan their shipments, monitor the status of shipments in real-time, and perform advanced scheduling and routing functions. A TMS can be a standalone solution or it can be integrated with other enterprise systems such as ERP (Enterprise Resource Planning), CRM (Customer Relationship Management) and SCM (Supply Chain Management).

Distribution Management

Distribution management (DM) is the function of managing the flow of products from the moment they are produced until they reach the hands of the customer. It encompasses all aspects of the product life cycle including procurement, production, fulfillment, and customer service. The primary goal of distribution management is to provide an exceptional customer experience.

This requires a well-oiled machine that integrates all functions of the company including finance, manufacturing, marketing, sales, and customer service. Distribution management is often referred to as customer-focused supply chain management because it emphasizes the needs and expectations of the customer rather than the requirements of the company.

A distribution network is the network of people, places, and things that are involved in fulfilling an order. A distribution channel is a subset of the distribution network that is involved in direct selling to consumers. Channels include catalogs, retail outlets, mail order, telephone order, Internet websites, etc.

Supply Chain Management Software

Supply chain management software (SCMS) refers to any software application designed to help companies with their supply chain activities. SCMS may be used for planning, tracking, forecasting, analysis, logistics, fulfillment, procurement, or any other function necessary as a supply chain solutions. The scope of SCMS can vary widely. It may be used by a single organization or it may be a component of an enterprise-wide integrated system.

There are three primary categories of supply chain management software:

Enterprise Resource Planning (ERP): ERP systems are designed to help companies manage their entire business, including functions such as accounting, finance, manufacturing, and distribution. An ERP system may be integrated with one or more SCMS.

Enterprise Portfolio Management (EPM): EPM systems are used by companies that have complex product lines and/or require detailed information about the status and performance of each product in their portfolio.

Integrated SCMS / EPM Systems: These systems combine the functionality of both an ERP system and an SCMS into a single package.

Specialized SCMS: SCMS are available for specific industries such as chemicals, food, medical devices, paper and pulp, semiconductors, and technology. These systems are not designed for general use but rather for use within a particular industry.


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