What good IT strategy for supply chains looks like

 

For businesses such as retailers, distributors, manufacturers, and ecommerce, it is important to have a supply chain that is appropriately managed to align with your business strategy. That business strategy is to act as a guide to efficient and successful practices which can get complicated with a fully operational supply chain. That’s why digitizing supply chains has been revolutionary — it cuts down on error, time, money, grunt work, and allows companies to grow more easily. An important part of the roadmapping is implementing the right IT solution to connect all your moving parts.

Boxed ERP’s and vended solutions

In digitizing your supply chain there has to be an integration solution to bring all your disparate systems together to make data accessible to multiple points of the company. ERP’s are larger systems that have solutions for all the different aspects of a company which come ready to communicate with one another. There are also vended solutions that exist purely to automate the data retrieval process to connect programs. However, these vended solutions can be expensive and are only so flexible. The limitations, once you are in, can be uncomfortable yet make you feel trapped into their offering. This is because vended solutions are a one-size-fits-all type fix. They were built to do a particular function, and can’t flex much to meet needs outside of that. So if you are looking to integrate a particular program and considering large vended solutions,  it can feel like using a sledgehammer to put a pin in. 

Custom solutions & integrations

If you need to connect disparate systems but buying a large premade solution doesn’t sit right, you might opt for a custom system with your own provisioned solutions or a hand-selected set of vended solutions to meet your separate needs. The benefits of custom software include: more resilience from not being completely tied to another entity; you get to be in control of your data, analytics, and security measures; and you get everything you need without paying for features you won’t use. 

When a custom system is built, all the separate solutions must be specifically set up to talk to one another — a crucial part of an efficient digital landscape. This gap between programs is often where manual processes like spreadsheets and human communication come in to act as a bridge.  That may seem fine at a certain scale but can increase operational inefficiencies. This is where you need custom integrations to bring your whole system together. 

Integration work can be done in two ways: a point-to-point system or through a pub/sub middleware solution. Point-to-point integrations set up each connection individually. For example, your POS gets set up to talk directly to your accounting program. Every time you add a new program it has to be connected to all the necessary pre-existing programs. This option will continue taking work as you grow and shift. We believe in integration which connects all your programs and uses a publish-subscribe messaging system to efficiently keep each component properly updated with the information coming from the other areas of the system.  

When the architecture of an application is more loosely coupled, the pub-sub model is a good way to allow the components to receive updates and pull data from multiple sources in a way that is more efficient than traditional message queues.

IT as operational expense (OpEx) or capital expenditure (CapEx)? 

What attitude should you apply to your IT systems integration? Is it a place to keep costs down or is it a place to invest money for future pay off? We say both! A good IT solution should save you money by running efficiently (read: faster, with fewer errors, and without as many human expenses), but also help give you the resources to grow! And if you can have a tailor-made software system, that means a better experience for your users and an ease of internal operations which can give you a leg up on the competition.

Conclusion

We believe no matter how big or small a company is, it pays to think about your supply chain management and IT strategically. Small businesses don’t have the margins to mess around with costly mistakes or inefficient tech solutions. Mid-size and growing businesses need something that is scalable and efficient, that can help you grow and develop with you. No matter how large or small your business is or where you are at in your software development, Compoze Labs has the knowledge and skills to strategically build and manage whatever IT strategy is right for you. If you are newly digitizing your supply chain, considering restructuring your IT systems, want custom built solutions, or just want to hear more about what we can do, it pays to consult professionals with experience effectively roadmapping supply chains and implementing these strategies. Reach out to our team of experts today!

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