Published in Solutions Integrator by Joe Devlin Click here for list of articles
  Oct 15, 1998 97% of manufacturing executives consider SCM critical to long term success.
SummaryMain ArticleJava Perks for SCMTarget the SaleStaying Focused

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If you're a technical integrator with business expertise in manufacturing, your timing is perfect. Customers are begging for supply-chain-management solutions that meet their needs.



Stay Focused To Succeed At SCM

Stay within your vertical niche, find out what your customers want, and then partner with the right manufacturer.

SCM Obstacles

Percentage of Fortune 1000 companies who report concerns about supply-chain-management.
Coordination with supply-chain partners.
High cost in resource constraints
Complexity of new supply-chain technology.
Poor state of current systems and data.
Cultural resistance of staff and management.
source: Forrester Research

In its November 1997 report 'The Supply Chain Voyage;' Forrester Research (Cambridge, MA) advises supply-chain management (SCM) solutions providers that users are looking for integrated, industry- solutions. The market research firm recommends that integrators perform the following:

  • Commit to a set of core applications and a single application backplane such as Oracle, SAP, or Microsoft. Forrester predicts that the market will continue to consolidate around these two ERP/financial backplanes. "Focus on a single application platform, and you'll be able to devote maximum energy and resources to producing a compelling set of industry-specific application portfolios."
  • Pick an industry or two to focus on. Preselect a set of complementary applications that easily fit into your chosen backplane.
  • Preintegrate your entire portfolio. "It's easier and more profitable to sell complete solutions than pieces of a solution".
  • Forrester cites the relationship between Marcam Solutions and MCI Systemhouse as an excellent ISV/reseller partnership that others might want to emulate. MCI Systemhouse tightly links parts of Marcam's new Protean plant automation system with SAPs R/3 ERP system (which MCI Systemhouse resells to the chemical industry).

    Judy Sweeney, director of business relations at Marcam, states, "We place heavy emphasis on the food and chemical industries, creating solutions that complement and add value to customers who have already made their backplane decision. Our partnership with MCI allows us to deliver a stronger vertical solution. We provide expertise at the plant level, and MCI brings extensive knowledge of SAP."

    Pulling off a successful SCM/ERP blending is not as easy as it sounds. It will be a few years before all the pieces fit together smoothly. Until then, to quote the Forrester report, "Systems integrators will have to fill in nontrivial gaps to bridge proprietary technologies:' On the other hand, when it's tough to do, you can charge big bucks."

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