Supply chain teams worldwide continue to grapple with increased customer expectations, unexpected disruptions and challenges, prompting them to seek ways to enhance visibility and improve agility across the end-to-end supply chain. From significant backlogs and disruptive breakdowns to the urgent need for greater resilience, many supply chains have been pushed to the limits. To overcome these obstacles, companies have recognized the paramount importance of deploying technology that aligns with their specific business needs and enables them to optimize operations, make faster, data-driven decisions, and enhance supply chain efficiency and resilience.

The evolution of technology in recent years has given rise to a mature and highly competitive market in the realm of supply chain planning software. Simultaneously, supply chain planners have adopted a more discerning and meticulous approach when evaluating vendors. The focus has shifted towards identifying technology partners capable of offering comprehensive planning solutions to also ensuring solutions build resilience and agility while effectively navigating the complexities of modern supply chains both today and into the future.

That is a lot to evaluate! To help make things easier, we've compiled a 5-step guide to assist you in navigating the technology landscape and finding a solution that is right for your business.

Step 1: Identify Your Unique Business Needs

Before diving into the world of supply chain planning software, it's essential to identify your business's unique needs. Supply chains differ significantly across industries, and even within the same industry, each company may face distinct challenges. With so many features and capabilities in the market, it can be easy to either get sold on features that aren’t needed for your business, or miss on the critical differentiators that make or break success while focusing on the features that are common across different vendors. One successful approach is to identify the unique business needs before engaging in demos.

At this stage, it’s important to understand the difference between configuration and customization, to ensure this aligns to your needs for software implementation. Configuration involves tailoring the software to your specific requirements without the need for custom code. This no-code/low-code approach allows companies, for instance, to configure views in the software or turn features on or off depending on specific needs. Customization, on the other hand, involves writing custom code to modify the software – often leading to complex implementations that are challenging to support and scale.

When evaluating potential software solutions, look for vendors that emphasize configuration over customization. This approach ensures your software can be adapted to your evolving needs without creating a tangled web of code that will cause headaches down the road.

Additionally, consider a vendor's ability to adjust the planning environment without relying on custom code. This flexibility is crucial as your business requirements may change over time.

Step 2: Involve Key Stakeholders

Your supply chain doesn't operate in isolation, and neither should your software selection process. Before narrowing down software vendors, identify all key stakeholders in your organization, taking into account strategic and tactical goals. This includes end-users, subject matter experts, decision-makers, and the like.

Engaging with these stakeholders early in the process ensures their input is considered when evaluating potential solutions. Their perspectives are highly valuable in understanding the specific challenges of your supply chain, alignment with business objectives, and the requirements to factor in during the process.

Step 3: Evaluate Technology Vendors

Choosing a technology vendor is a critical decision in your supply chain planning journey. Look for vendors with extensive knowledge and expertise in your industry who can provide insights to address your specific company and industry challenges. They should both understand your unique business challenges and demonstrate the ability to become strategic partners who can guide you towards maturing your processes, to help grow and scale your business and drive optimal outcomes.

Consider the following steps when evaluating technology vendors:

Individual Research: Speak to colleagues and/or experts you trust in the industry to gather recommendations and valuable insights, including functionality to look for.

Market Analysis: Read analyst reports and assessments from research firms to understand the vendor landscape and the products’ strengths and how they align with your needs.

Case Studies: Examine case studies and customer testimonials to gauge how the software has benefited other organizations within your industry or other sectors.

Demo: Request a demo from the vendor to gain a first-hand understanding of the solution's capabilities. Ensure you set the expectation for the demo demonstrates the functionality you are looking for, not just the vendor’s preferred topics.

A thorough research and evaluation process will help you shortlist the most suitable solutions and select the one that aligns best with your business needs.

Step 4: Focus on Advanced Solutions to Power Your Supply Chain Maturity Journey

As supply chains become increasingly complex, it's essential to choose an innovative software solution with advanced capabilities. The software should equip you with the right tools to enable you to connect data, decisions, and operations across your supply chain, with the ability to support your company's growth as your needs evolve and drive transformational results

Focus on advanced solutions that offer end-to-end visibility across your entire supply chain, encompassing demand planning, inventory management, supply planning, Sales and Operations Planning (S&OP), and production planning.

Best-of-breed solutions offer flexibility to connect data across different platforms, including ERPs, TMS, WMS, and CRM systems as well as customer and supplier collaboration for an integrated planning capability. These solutions should provide robust analytics combined with prescriptive recommendations and dashboards to make rolling out advanced capabilities. Modern solutions provide AI-driven capabilities that allow you to quickly empower your supply chain to thrive amongst supply chain disruptions and consumer expectations.

Investing in software that can evolve with your company ensures that your supply chain remains agile and responsive to changing market conditions.

Step 5: Connect with References and Read Peer Reviews

Once you've narrowed down your options, it's time to seek insights from your peers; those who have firsthand experience with the solutions you're considering.

Connecting with actual customers through references and reviews will provide insights into the outcomes of projects, the reality of project delivered versus what was sold, and how the implementation went. Beware of any vendors who are unable to provide multiple successful references in your industry, objectives, or business challenges.

Reviews from actual customers provide invaluable information about the product's capabilities and the vendor's support. They offer a window into how the software performs in real-world scenarios, helping you understand the challenges and successes during the implementation process, and learn about the vendor's levels of support.

Ongoing support is fundamental in the success of implementing a new solution, so make sure the vendor you are considering has a proven track record for delivering excellent customer experience and support, both during and after the initial implementation stage.

By leveraging the experiences of your peers, you can gain a better understanding of what it's like to partner with a specific supply chain planning software vendor and make a more informed decision.

Bonus Step: Speak to us!

At John Galt Solutions, we work closely with customers across industries and at all stages of their supply chain maturity, to support their digital transformation, shape opportunities, reduce risk, and drive business value.

Our Atlas Planning Platform connects and orchestrates the end-to-end supply chain to enable leading companies to make smarter, faster, and more confident supply chain decisions. A highly intuitive and flexible SaaS platform, Atlas drives the intelligent, agile digital supply chain to accelerate your transformation journey across demand planning, inventory and supply planning, collaborative S&OP, production planning, and beyond. With the right software in place, your organization can adapt, grow, and thrive in today's dynamic business environment.

Let’s have a quick chat about your supply chain challenges and goals. We’ll show you how a single, no-code platform can transform and automate your end-to-end supply chain.