Supply Chain Management

What is SCM?

What is SCM?

Supply Chain Management Helps You:

  • Improve information flow across the supply chain
  • Optimize the physical flow of goods and materials
  • Cut costs across the board
  • Plan for and manage demand
  • Reduce errors and automate financials

Improve information flow across the supply chain

What is supply chain management (SCM), and how can SCM software increase the efficiency of a supply chain? Firstly, before we dive any deeper, supply chain management is a group of processes that see a product from manufacture to final delivery to a customer. So, where does a management platform fit into all of this? Well, the short answer is everywhere.

One of the most valuable things supply chain management can accomplish is providing detailed information across the entire length of a supply chain. By increasing data visibility, owners and managers can discover areas that need improvement, plan for the future and optimize the entirety of their supply chains.

Supply chain management software leverages analytics and logistics tools that drill down into daily processes in search of data. This data is automatically loaded into customized reports that are displayed on easy-to-access dashboards for users to view. Information is king, and the right supply chain management tool can feed you valuable data pulled from everyday processes. Efficient communication is another important tool that can optimize supply chain tasks. By collaborating, team members can discuss improvements, meet up to discuss incoming data and discuss the future.

  • Customizable reports
  • Analytics tools
  • Dashboards
  • Data management
  • Supply chain KPIs
  • Collaboration tools

Optimize the physical flow of goods and materials

The flow of information is obviously important, but getting physical products from manufacturers to customers is the real goal here. Supply chain management includes many features focused on improving accuracy, speeding up delivery and increasing trust between businesses, clients and customers. The storage of goods and materials is also integral to a functionally competent supply chain. Features that speed up pick-and-pack, make multi-tenant or multi-warehouse operations less complex, and support third-party logistics can turn a slow warehouse around.

Communication is important here as well. Many systems include functions that automatically release information to customers and clients as their product moves from production to distribution. This way, customers know exactly where their product is and when they can expect it to arrive. The fewer questions a customer has the better, and a proper management system can keep them in the loop and worry-free. When looking for a management system, keep these features in mind:

  • Transportation management
  • Product lifecycle management
  • Warehouse management
  • Value-added services
  • Third-party logistics support
  • Maintenance management

Cut costs across the board

As a product moves from manufacture to delivery, supply chain management systems are always on the lookout for ways to cut costs. There are multiple processes a system can capitalize on in order to shrink costs across the entirety of the supply chain. Features that boost the accuracy of, well, anything are always good to have. Depending on the mistake, both time and money can be drained in order to make up for whatever the issue was. If a customer gets a package late, they may seek business elsewhere. If an employee is given the wrong picking information, the manager will have to incur return and reship costs. A driver may not be given an optimized route and could end up wasting funds on fuel or extra days spent on the road.

By leveraging supply chain management, users can gain insight into beneficial sales channels, reduce fulfillment times and save money at nearly every step of the way. Automatic features can order more supplies as necessary to avoid out-of-stock situations while also managing replacement parts for machinery. SCM is all about saving money, so make sure some of these features, if not all, are available when selecting a system:

  • Pick-and-pack optimization
  • Manual entry automation
  • One entry input
  • Supply re-orders
  • Omnichannel fulfillment
  • Supplier networking
  • Risk management

Plan for and manage demand

Keeping up with customer demand is another key tenant of successful supply chain management. An optimized supply chain can deal with the ups and downs of the market without storing too much useless product or running out at an inopportune moment. Many SCM tools include features that organize and help users build a storage system that keeps the most valuable products readily available. As demand grows and shrinks, your supply chain should be ready to scale up or down at a moment’s notice.

Forecasting tools help managers estimate how best to tackle future markets. Supply chain management platforms analyze trends in real time to give users an idea of what to order, when to order it and how to best stay stocked. The visibility into inventory processes provided by these tools takes the surprise out of managing a proper amount of stock to meet customer demand. A successful solution should provide procurement and inventory support to stay competitive. Because of this, you’ll want to keep an eye out for these helpful features:

  • Inventory management
  • Forecasting tools
  • Agile/scalable platforms
  • Procurement management

Reduce errors and automate financials

No one wants to put pen to paper and write out a budget. Many supply chain management platforms include accounting support that can automate much of the process. By eliminating the need for manual entry and calculation, businesses can expect fewer human errors and less time spent rectifying budget inconsistencies. Instead of spending large amounts of time tackling budget issues, employees can refocus on more important tasks.

This is another point where single entry accounting calculations are an advantage. Certain systems allow users to enter data only once before it automatically distributes it to necessary portions of the budget. Businesses that suffer from accounting errors or slow data entry should search for systems with these features:

  • Tax support
  • Budget support
  • Calculation automation
  • Save preferred suppliers by price
  • Audit tools


How is automation affecting the landscape of supply chain management?

Technology is always pushing forward, and the rise of automation has important implications for the world of supply chain management. The use of robotics and AI is rising among warehousing operations and is even starting to show up in the transportation of goods and products. Drones are being utilized to quickly pick and transport goods through warehouses and automated trucking is taking its first tentative steps toward being a widely adopted option.

In order to keep up with the complicated and ever-changing world of global trade, supply chains need to be ready to adopt new technologies to stay competitive. Once far-fetched ideas like augmented reality may become widely accepted tools in the future.

How has the cloud revolutionized supply chain management?

Cloud-based deployment strategies are on the rise for good reason. Implementing a cloud-based system comes with a number of inherent advantages over their on-premise peers. Users that leverage the cloud benefit from secure backup, real-time upgrades, easy file exchanges and a lower cost of entry. Outside of these common benefits, here are a few more ways the cloud boosts supply chain operations:

  • Cloud-based analytics and manufacturing intelligence improves cycle times
  • Cloud-based applications automate compliance and reporting to free up time
  • Diverse application integrations and systems using APIs scale manufacturing strategies quickly
  • Businesses can measure order performance with software inclusions
  • Quality management features are increasing customer satisfaction across the board

How Do I Select SCM Software?

Finding the right supply chain management tools can be tough. The best way to approach the problem is by asking a few questions about your unique requirements as a business. Consider a few things before jumping into the wide market of vendors out there. Think about what kind of deployment strategy works best for your business; does an on-premise or cloud-based application fit your business better? How much room is there in the budget for a new system? What size is your operation and how complex does your solution need to be? By asking these probing questions, you can drastically narrow down the field of vendors. If you need a bit of guidance getting started, our Supply Chain Requirements Checklist can get you started, or our list of Essential Supply Chain Management Tools.

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SCM articles are written and edited by:

Zachary Totah

Content Manager

As SelectHub’s Content Manager, Zachary Totah leads a team of more than 35 writers and editors in their quest to provide content that helps software buyers find the right system for their company.

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Pooja Verma

Content Editor and Market Analyst

Pooja Verma is a Content Editor and Market Analyst at SelectHub, who writes content on Endpoint Security and Supply Chain Management.

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Anwita Dhar

Technical Content Writer

Anwita is a Technical Content Writer at Selecthub. She writes content for endpoint security and supply chain management.

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Thought Leaders

SelectHub has sought out and invited thought leaders to contribute to our SCM industry articles and resources. These thought leaders ensure we deliver quality content with the most accurate information, focusing on what matters most. No thought leader is compensated for their contributions, but shares our belief that information should be democratized so everyone can make the best decision.

Erik Kiser

Erik Kiser

CEO, Orderful

At 25 Erik started a consulting firm focused on writing EDI and B2B integrations for manufacturers.

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Cathy Morrow Roberson

Cathy Morrow Roberson

Market Analyst, Logistics Trends & Insights LLC

Cathy Morrow Roberson is a market analyst with a research and economics background. Roberson began her career as a librarian; she was then an analyst at an e-commerce start-up for a couple of years.

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Chris Cunnane

Chris Cunnane

Senior Research Analyst, ARC

Chris’ key areas of research include transportation management systems, omni-channel logistics and fulfillment, business analytics, and retail technology.

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Steve Hopper

Steve Hopper

Trusted Supply Chain Advisor

Are your warehousing, logistics, manufacturing, and distribution operations as efficient and cost-effective as they can be? Are your operating costs as low as possible?

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Suman Sarkar

Suman Sarkar

Partner, Three S Consulting

Suman Sarkar is a partner with Three S Consulting and an international consultant who has advised more than forty Fortune 500 companies in strategy and operations.

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Kelly Barner

Kelly Barner

Owner, Managing Director at Buyers Meeting Point, LLC

Kelly Barner has held numerous roles in procurement since 2003. She is the Owner and Managing Director of Buyers Meeting Point and MyPurchasingCenter.

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Joanna Martinez

Joanna Martinez

Founder at Supply Chain Advisors LLC

Joanna Martinez helps businesses being battered by disruptive forces, creating innovative ways to reduce costs or grow bottom-lines.

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What Is Demand Forecasting? Different Types, Benefits and More

November 17, 2023
Predicting the future is a valuable skill. Demand forecasting provides effective and accurate predictions for companies to meet customer expectations. It is an essential component of supply chain management systems that eliminates upcoming risks before they impact overall business.

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What Is Cross-Docking? A Comprehensive Guide

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November 13, 2023
Cross-docking has great potential as a distribution tactic in logistics and supply chains. It’s a mode of transporting materials directly from the supplier or manufacturer to the customer with marginal or no storage costs. Implementing a supply chain management system facilitates cross-docking processes and reduces issues related to storage, labor overhead, fulfillment speed and more.

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The Best Demand Planning Tools

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November 10, 2023
We all know the feeling of finding a product on Amazon (or at your favorite brick-and-mortar) only to see it’s unavailable or out of stock. It’s a common problem for consumers but an even more significant issue regarding supply chain management. The answer? Demand planning software.

You can’t possibly meet the customer’s demand if you’re left scrambling every time the market shifts.

Which solution will give the best ROI for your specific needs? What are the best options on the market? This article will take you through our analyst-picked list of the top demand planning solutions.

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What Is Supply Chain Visibility? A Comprehensive Guide

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November 10, 2023
Supply chain visibility is the lifeblood of any modern business looking to transform its inbound logistics. Your entire supply chain thrives on the ability to track individual items, final products and sub-assemblies by providing real-time updates. That’s why many businesses use supply chain management software to deliver the latest data and logistics insights.

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Supply Chain Strategy: A Comprehensive Guide

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November 9, 2023
Building an effective supply chain strategy is tough. With supply chains undergoing digital transformation, many companies are grappling with new ways to improve overall operations and performance, especially in a post-pandemic world. They’ve started emphasizing strategic supply chain management tools to overcome these challenges.

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Best Supply Chain Visibility Software Solutions

November 3, 2023
Wouldn’t supply chain management be easier if you could just use a magnifying glass to view everything you needed? As we’re sure you’re aware, however, that’s not exactly the case. Without the proper systems in place, achieving full visibility into each supply chain process is difficult, if not impossible.

Luckily, supply chain visibility software can free you from tedious manual data entry and reporting while giving you actionable insights to guide your business better.

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The Best Order Fulfillment Software Solutions

November 2, 2023
A myriad of things can go wrong in the time between a customer’s purchase and delivery. Even the slightest human error, like the wrong letter or number on an order, could disrupt the entire process and put the company’s reputation at stake. Thankfully, with technological advances and supply chain management solutions, businesses no longer have to rely on outdated methods. They can leverage order fulfillment software to track their inventory, invoicing, billing and shipments.

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The Best Supply Chain Management Software

Last Reviewed:
Supply chain management tools are indispensable in the digital era of volatile demand and evolving customer expectations. Businesses often struggle with a “one fits all” approach, thus losing leads. In the age of circular supply chains, only the best solutions fit unique needs like agile processing and scalability.

In this article, we’ll delve into the features and limitations of the best SCM solutions, the different types of supply chains and associated techniques.

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Mobile Supply Chain: A Comprehensive Guide

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Last Reviewed:
If you’re still manually managing orders, counting inventory by hand and sending faxes to process shipments, you’re probably suffering. These archaic methods are on their way out and the time of manual supply chain management is fading.

Mobile supply chain management is on the rise with tools and technologies that take the blood, sweat and tears out of your mundane processes in favor of faster, more accurate and efficient practices.

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What Is Reverse Logistics? A Comprehensive Guide

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October 26, 2023
Everyone returns a product from an online retailer at least once in their lives. But have you noticed that customized items that were once ineligible for returns are now being accepted?

That’s because the firm has revised its policy in favor of reusing materials for improved reverse logistics.

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5 Key Benefits of Supply Chain Management

October 23, 2023

Supply chains are the lifelines of businesses across the globe. They connect all of the processes required between the manufacture and the final delivery of a product to a consumer. So, in a nutshell, they are vital to nearly every economic system out there. However, these complicated business organisms need constant management and attention to stay healthy and competitive. Luckily for us, the benefits of supply chain management and the software suites designed to convey these advantages are widely available.

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Supply Chain Management Modules: A Comprehensive Guide

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October 19, 2023
In the world of supply chain management, speed and accuracy are everything. The slightest disruption can throw a well-oiled SCM operation into disarray. But never fear. The right combination of supply chain modules can keep your operation agile.

Before you jump into the SCM software market, you’ll need a list of must-have requirements your business needs to succeed. Our comprehensive list of the most popular modules can jumpstart your selection process.

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JDA vs Infor: Which is the Winner?

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October 19, 2023
A good SCM software solution is imperative to a smooth manufacturing and distribution process. This is especially true for mid-sized businesses trying to stay competitive in today’s market while also looking for chances to grow their supply chain.

JDA’s Supply Chain Now and Infor Supply Chain Management are two solutions that are often considered by SMBs, but what makes them different? Where do their abilities overlap? As you surely know by now, it’s exceedingly important to make sure the system you choose fulfills your requirements. That’s why we created a detailed comparison of JDA vs Infor, so you can decide with confidence which system is best for you.

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EDI vs API in the Supply Chain

October 17, 2023

It’s hard to imagine an effective supply chain management solution that doesn’t rely on EDI or API. They both allow you to quickly and securely exchange data from system to system, which is a huge part of the supply chain management process.

But even though both API and EDI are widely used across many different business software solutions, they do have their differences. These differences need to be understood in order to make an educated choice when choosing a software solution that best suits your business needs.

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What Is A Global Supply Chain? A Comprehensive Guide

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October 13, 2023
Have you ever considered expanding your supply chain to broaden your vendor horizons? A global supply chain allows manufacturers to expand into international markets, encouraging businesses to boost sales, lower overhead costs, improve threat and risk management, and more. Likewise, supply chain management software (SCM) ensures the timely delivery of services and goods to multiple distribution centers.

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Key Requirements and Features of Supply Chain Management (SCM)

October 13, 2023
As the world recuperates from the pandemic and the daily recorded cases continue to decline globally, the light at the end of the tunnel seems brighter. But global supply chains are feeling the brunt of the pandemic with anxious economies, increased trade wars, environmental sustainability issues and even the shortage of truck drivers. In order to tackle these complexities while maintaining efficiency, you need the right supply chain management system. But due to various options and features of supply chain management available, picking the best fit for your business can be tricky.

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How Supply Chain Automation is Changing the Landscape

October 12, 2023

When the term automation comes up, most people experience a brief sci-fi laden slideshow in their heads. It’s the year 2021, humanoid robots take to the streets disrupting life as we know it and clashing with their old human masters. Lucky for us, when it comes to the world of supply chain automation, robots are more about increasing efficiency and less the whole enslaving humanity angle.

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5 KPIs for Supply Chain Analytics and the Tools to Find Them

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October 11, 2023

Making sure a complex system such as supply chain management runs smoothly is a difficult process. It involves multiple organizations, each of which have their own objectives and practices. Tracking shipments and monitoring inventory levels are just a few of the key aspects that need to be closely followed in order to ensure that orders are handled effectively.

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5 Areas Supply Chain Optimization Improves

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October 9, 2023
It seems like all anybody talks about these days is how to optimize this while making that more efficient. The word “optimization” has become one of the more prominent — and, frankly, overused — buzzwords of the last few years. That said, there’s no escaping it. Supply chain optimization remains an important aspect of modern supply chain management and has lasting positive effects.

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5 Factors Driving Supply Chain, Inventory Management and Warehouse Management Convergence

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October 9, 2023

High-performance supply chains are the lifeblood of any company’s operations, and the cornerstone of strong customer relationships. Supply chains that excel at execution successfully orchestrate supply chain management (SCM), inventory management and warehouse management (WMS) systems to fulfill strategic goals. Both business-to-business (B2B) and business-to-consumer (B2C) customers now expect real-time responsiveness through any of the selling channels they choose to purchase through. By using SCM systems as the foundation to unify inventory management and Warehouse Management Systems (WMS), more companies can deliver real-time responsiveness and excellent experiences to their customers, through any channel, any time.

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Supply Chain Trends for 2023 and Beyond

October 6, 2023
Supply chains, much like living organisms, need to evolve to survive. New technology, like robotic process automation (RPA), cloud computing and artificial intelligence (AI), replaces weak links and alters the supply chain software market at large. We looked to the experts for their thoughts on the future of supply chain trends.

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Exploring Supply Chain Technology Stack’s Inflection Point

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October 4, 2023

The progression from a series of integrated applications that support relatively simple supply chain processes and workflows to technology stacks designed to scale across global operations is accelerating. Application and infrastructure middleware and platform providers now have software designed just for streamlining the creation and fine-tuning of supply chain technology stacks. IoT spending is predicted to accelerate mainly as a result of supply chain technology stacks, as is the proliferation of Application Programming Interfaces (APIs).

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Supply Chain Management Scope and How to Leverage SCM Software

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October 2, 2023

SCM (supply chain management) software integration is on the rise, and companies of all shapes and sizes are leveraging these powerful solutions to increase efficiency. Luckily, you’ve come to the right place to learn how SCM software can take your supply chain to the next level. We’ve gathered some helpful supply chain management features and requirements below that will help inform your supply chain management scope of work before choosing a perfect solution.

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What Is Supply Chain Planning? A Comprehensive Guide

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September 29, 2023
Planning keeps you in control of unforeseen events. No one wants to pack up their car and head to the beach only to be greeted by rain. Likewise, successful supply chain planning is critical in today’s rapidly changing business market to avoid major risks and costly disruptions. Implementing supply chain planning can give you strategic and tactical support alongside your supply chain management systems.

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What is Supplier Lifecycle Management? Stages and Software Benefits

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September 27, 2023
It goes without saying that pursuing a new relationship is hard, whether it’s business or personal. In order to land a strong connection in either realm, you have to be willing to put yourself out there. Strong relationships come with a myriad of benefits and this is doubly true in the world of business. Supplier lifecycle management gives businesses and suppliers the ability to form strong bonds through the use of aggregated data and visibility. Strong supplier relationships mean better supply chain management, and software makes forming these partnerships easier.

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What is Supply Chain Analytics? Ultimate Guide

September 15, 2023

The world and its economies are always in a state of flux. New trade regulations are put into place, disasters upset the flow of goods, stock markets rise and fall, and supply chains struggle to keep up with these chaotic changes. By implementing supply chain analytics and supply chain management software, businesses can attempt to capture and study the huge amount of data that accumulates as a product moves from A to B. As more and more enterprises adopt Big Data and analytical tools, supply chains are turning away from studying the past and instead, forecasting the future.

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How Cloud Supply Chain Software Revolutionizes Operations

August 31, 2023
Cloud-based applications and platforms are revolutionizing supply chain management today, scaling operations from small businesses to complex enterprises. Cloud supply chain software solutions are showing significant increases in implementation – so much so that not having one in place makes you an outlier.

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Best Supply Chain Collaboration Software to Reduce Failure Rates

August 28, 2023

Supply chains are bigger and more complex than ever before. Nearly 50 million tons of goods moving every single day in the US alone. In order to run a successful and competitive business, it’s more important than ever to have an efficient system that can manage risks and resolve issues. And while supply chain management software is evolving every day, the time it takes to understand the problems and make critical decisions is still becoming longer.

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The Best Vendor Management Software Solutions

August 22, 2023
There is no one-size-fits-all solution to managing vendors. That being said, efficient vendor management has visible time and money savings as it reduces the need to manage multiple vendors, timesheets and subsequent payments. In the past, these tasks were managed on paper, but today many companies opt for supply chain management software that automates labor-intensive tasks. Depending on the businesses’ scale, its vendor management software must be scalable and able to integrate with existing software. This article will explain what vendor management software (VMS) is, how it can help your company and the top 5 systems available on the market.

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The Best Logistics Software: SelectHub Top Picks

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The logistics and SCM software landscape is transforming to meet the evolving needs of businesses, with agility, resiliency and intelligent operations as the new buzzwords.

From comprehensive suite providers to niche players, the logistics software options are vast. Innovative providers are introducing cutting-edge features like advanced analytics and artificial intelligence (AI).

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How Does Elon Musk Use Supply Chain Planning?

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Last Reviewed:

If you’re not familiar with the name Elon Musk, you will be soon. This wildly ambitious, deliciously eccentric billionaire is the real-life Tony Stark of the tech world. Not only is he determined to be the first to put mankind on Mars, but he’s also suggested linking human brains to computers, building a “speed of sound” transportation system, and producing reusable space rockets.

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