SAP’s broader supply chain strategy is based on Adaptive Supply Chain Networks which aim to seamlessly connect supply, planning, manufacturing and distribution operations.
“SAP focuses on providing near real time visibility across the supply network, to enable rapid decision making and optimal execution,” says presales solution manager Paul Swain.
“SAP has recognized for some time that businesses need supply chain solutions with the depth to address the unique challenges of their industry.
SAP works with customers, experienced supply chain business consultants and solution architects to turn these concepts into tangible returns for the customer.”
According to Paul Swain, the role of IT is to take the sophisticated supply chains of today and make them simple enough for businesses to run effectively.
“Perhaps more importantly these days IT can be the key to significant supply chain transformation and business benefit,” he says. “IT has to be an enabler of change, not an impediment,” he says.
“Customers are looking for solutions that can be quickly deployed with a rapid return on investment,” Swain observes.
“At the same time they want the peace of mind knowing that their solutions form part of a broader set that can form the platform to efficiently deliver their longer term aims. Customers need functionally rich solutions that they can grow.
“They don’t want to find that they’ve painted themselves into a corner by acting too tactically.”
SAP Supply Chain Management has been widely deployed locally and globally.
“On the planning side demand planning, supply network planning and production scheduling modules within this suite have been the mainstay of deployments for quite some time.”
Examples of SAP supply chain management customers include; Bluescope Steel, Fonterra and Parbury Building Products.
“Our solutions provide industry leading tools for forecasting right through to optimised fulfilment and manufacturing scheduling that can all be seamlessly integrated,” Swain says.
“Of course SAP Supply Chain Management also provides the execution backbone of many organisations. This includes complex and high volume warehouse functions through to shipping and transportation execution.
Customers also keep an eye on their supply chain performance KPI’s with our comprehensive and flexible reporting framework.
In terms of the future, Paul Swain predicts IT solutions for planning and execution will develop further in functional richness off the shelf to meet customers increasing expectations.
“The push for end to end supply chain visibility will continue with RFID helping to deliver this via intelligent applications,” he says.
“More importantly these solutions will sense exceptions in the supply chain and respond close to real time with intelligent decisions or alerts for the user.”
“Capabilities for this do exist today but will be extended and more widely deployed.”
“Supply Chain executives are striving to drive their overall supply chains to optimise profit for the entire enterprise – not just divisionally,” Swain says.
“Businesses will continue to innovate by developing, extending and adapting their supply chain processes.”
Service Oriented Architecture will deliver greater flexibility enabling rapid changes across heterogeneous IT landscapes that might include a platform and applications from large vendors like SAP, perhaps some in-house applications and packaged point solutions.”
SAP sees very strong opportunities for growth coming from the depth of industry specific supply chain solutions now available.
By way of example, Swain points to the company’s new and comprehensive Transport Management solution for logistics service providers, sophisticated Service Parts Management, Forecasting and Replenishment for retail and Adaptive Manufacturing with shop floor integration.
“Six Sigma, Lean Manufacturing and a disciplined focus on effective sales and operations planning are common initiatives we see in supply chain businesses today,” Swain says.
“SAP has dedicated solutions that underpin these and we see them continuing to provide opportunities.”