Is investing in supply chain software for a production, distribution, transport, third party logistics or other supply chain company worth the money and the time? The short answer is that instead of keeping employees doing routine, simple tasks, this type of software suite allows businesses to leverage employees’ skills and knowledge to boost the bottom line.

“Supply chain software can transform business” says Tony Davis, MD of warehouse management systems specialist Dovetail. “With the move to cloud computing there are now benefits such as subscription-based pricing, automatic software updates, data back-up and disaster recovery and tailored systems that are structured to meet specific business needs.”

On top of that, he adds the cloud allows businesses to employ far fewer technology resources. Moving to the cloud is a particularly clever decision for supply chain businesses which need to data always available to keep the business running smoothly and efficiently.

Furthermore, system integration streamlines operations. “The ability to integrate accounting systems with inventory management and billing systems enables greater efficiency,” says Davis. “It also speeds up billing, payment and reordering.”

Web access allows for remote control of warehouse operations and removes reliance on an internal network.  Wireless devices help to accelerate the warehouse processes by making scanning and data entry handy.

“Accurate and efficient data collection is fundamental to long-term business success,” says Davis. “Objective data enables a company to run well, to measure success, and to make improvements. Without it, the business will ultimately fail.”

He notes that supply chain solutions also enable data collection via scanning. This improves the speed of data input by doing away with the need for people to re-enter data into various systems, and also improves the quality and comprehensiveness of the data collected.

There’s another important consideration for business in an economy without borders. “Globally, e-commerce is fast becoming the most common buying method for consumers and businesses, with orders having to be shipped around the world and payment received in various currencies.”

A warehouse management system can manage incoming orders more efficiently, create organised pick lists, and generate shipping labels for large numbers of different types of customers. “Being able to accommodate specific requirements easily results in more sales,” he adds.

Tracking allows for visibility of the entire business and creates the opportunity to make changes where necessary, in cases of bad weather, for example. Knowing exactly where your vehicles are and being able to adjust their arrival time enables you to notify the customer and plan ahead.

“Increased visibility leads to increased business intelligence,” says Davis. “It increases managers’ ability to schedule and plan all areas of the business in addition to being able to make adjustments if things do not go as planned.”

In addition, it lowers costs associated with missed deliveries, lost merchandise and dissatisfied customers that occur when the only information available is via paper invoices and phone calls.

“Ultimately, the less time that is spent on focusing on the everyday details, the more time there is to focus on the growth of the business,” says Davis. “Putting all of the capabilities of supply chain software together with the improved visibility of the company as a whole allows for the bigger picture to emerge, and for managers to focus on the growth and development of the business, which they would not be able to do otherwise.”