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RFI Analysis: Supply Chain Management Vendors



Enter Supply Chain Management

SCM is, essentially, a huge integration problem. Manufacturers must purchase components from suppliers to make finished products. Distributors must know where to send which products, when to send them and how many to send. And someone must keep track of it all, balancing the number of items manufactured with the number sold, while keeping an eye on its bottom line. As NWC Inc.'s IT staff, we decided to build out our systems to gain visability into the company's supply chain. After all, we have inventory management and business integration in place (our Cognos Series 7 implementation) to analyze sales patterns. How hard could hooking up NWC Inc. to its component suppliers and distributors be?

Very difficult, actually. Although EDI, XML and VPNs have lessened the prohibitive expense of dedicated lines among suppliers and distributors, systems still must speak EDI to communicate effectively with partners' systems. And though our analysts can review the reports and data presented by Cognos to determine which and how many widgets to ship to distributors at what time, there's still the little problem of getting that data from the head of the analyst to whatever system the IT staff is cooking up to organize widget distribution. Note to selves: Custom RFID (radio frequency identification) implants aren't a solution, no matter how good they sound over drinks at 2 a.m.

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