My recent article entitled “Workforce Scheduling & Optimization: The Missing Link on the Shop Floor?” analyzed the importance of manufacturing workforce scheduling & optimization solutions and stated that many manufacturing enterprises still use rudimentary tools and practices (if that) to manage their labor. The article stated that most manufacturing organizations do not yet understand the strategic value that workforce scheduling could provide to them.
Often, manufacturing companies (complacently or ignorantly) think that the existing practices and tools that they have in place for labor scheduling are “good enough” or that workforce scheduling for their environment is so unique and complex that it cannot be properly automated. Until recently, a few percentiles of improvement in labor utilization or productivity hasn’t been much of an incentive for manufacturing executives to invest in sophisticated workforce management (WFM) systems. Labor has been customarily viewed as a constraint (or even a necessary evil) to the successful movement of goods through the supply chain.
What a difference in attitude a protracted economic downturn can make. Because labor represents a large percentage of any organization’s controllable costs, many manufacturing companies have lately realized that the benefits of implementing automated workforce scheduling can be significant.
I often wonder how well-known is the fact that the Newcastle upon Tyne (UK)-based Sage Group, Plc (LSE: SGE) is a leading global provider of business management software and services to over 6.3 million small and midsize enterprises (SMEs) worldwide. After over 25 years in existence and with 13,400 employees worldwide, Sage reported US$2.24 billion in revenue in 2010, and the vendor touts its 28,000 business partners and 40,000 accountants’ club members.
For its part, the Sage North America subsidiary (formerly also known as Best Software in the early 2000s) has 4,000 employees and supports more than 3.2 million customers in the United States (US) and Canada (with customers in every state and province) with enterprise applications and services that cover accounting, enterprise resource planning (ERP), customer relationship management (CRM), payment processing, human resources (HR) and payroll. In addition to providing horizontal products, Sage North America caters to the specialized needs of the healthcare, nonprofit, manufacturing, and construction & real estate industries.
Part 1 of this blog series established that the product lifecycle management (PLM) software market for process industries (food & beverage, life sciences, chemicals, paints, consumer products, etc.) has not been well-defined as compared to its counterparts in the discrete manufacturing and fashion (apparel) industry segments. Indeed, the process PLM solution market is currently a mosaic of specialized vendors with solutions that cater to only a part of the entire process PLM flow.
My post then analyzed typical workarounds to solve the puzzle of integrating these silo-based solutions with their focus on structured data, which is insufficient for creating adequate product specifications in this day and age. Part 2 will analyze other typical constraints of these solutions, such as the level of process PLM vendors’ global enterprise support as well as available solution configuration options and ongoing change capabilities.
Part 1 of this blog series analyzed Manhattan Associates’ innovative Supply Chain Process Platform (SCPP)-based applications, such as Supply Chain Intelligence (SCI) and Total Cost to Serve (TCS). The Manhattan SCOPE suite’s modules were also discussed as well as the company’s recent evolution from a mere supply chain execution (SCE) provider.
The article concluded that Distributed Order Management (DOM) is a critical “cerebral” application of the entire suite. A smart order management system takes customer orders and decides which warehouse (or any other viable inventory location) is best suited to fulfill them based on inventory on hand, inventory in transit, and delivery requirements.
These days when all the excitement seems to be coming from “social anything” and “cloud anything” gadgets, it is refreshing to see some tried-and-true enterprise resource planning (ERP) vendors doing very well in their much less exciting manufacturing realms. The two vendors in this instance are IQMS and IFS, and there are many similarities between them (other than the superficial one that their names start with “I” and end with “S”).
Namely, both vendors are focused solely on manufacturing (mostly in discrete manufacturing, but also in mixed-mode discrete and process manufacturing environments), they both leverage Oracle’s database and Microsoft’s client-side technologies, and are currently happy to remain deployed on-premises (perhaps with some managed hosting options). In addition, both vendors tend to offer complete functionality natively and scalable solutions without requiring costly third-party interfaces.
Part 1 of this blog series analyzed typical issues that retailers face in their cutthroat competitive environment and concluded that traditionally available packaged retail enterprise applications are sub-optimal, provide only stovepipe views, and demand constant manual intervention by a highly sophisticated user. This is especially true in the case of handling ever-more difficult products and assortments (e.g., big ticket slow-moving items, sized merchandise, etc.).
The article then introduced Quantum Retail Technology, an up-and-coming company with a budding install base, who has an intriguing mission and value proposition for retailers that have to deal with a slew of tricky retail items. What follows now is my discussion with Chris Allan, Quantum’s chief strategy officer.
My recent article on Manhattan Associates (NASDAQ: MANH) and RedPrairie Corporation stated that these two vendors continue to duke it out at almost every large-scale selection deal for a warehouse management system (WMS), distribution labor management system (LMS), and/or transportation management system (TMS) solution. But over the last few years they have also pursued somewhat different expansion routes from their traditional supply chain execution (SCE) realms, where they will likely face different competitors.
To that end, RedPrairie has been rounding out its solutions set for retail stores while trying to attract the lower-end of the WMS and TMS markets via on-demand applications. For its part, Manhattan has been rounding out a portfolio of supply chain management (SCM) software solutions dubbed Manhattan SCOPE, which stands for “Supply Chain Optimization, Planning through Execution.” Built on a common Supply Chain Process Platform (SCPP), the SCOPE suite combines the following sub-suites to enable overall supply chain optimization: Planning and Forecasting, Inventory Optimization, Order Lifecycle Management, Transportation Lifecycle Management, and Distribution Management.
The article then went a bit deeper into the guts of the SCPP technical underpinning. But SCPP is not a mere “geekware” toolset, since it also comes with its own applications and solutions. These solutions offer the broad supply chain insight and analytics that are critical to an executive’s ability to proactively manage the holistic supply chain.
The product lifecycle management (PLM) software market for process industries (food & beverage, life sciences, chemicals, paints, consumer products, etc.) is serviced by a plethora of solution providers, but it hasn’t been well-defined as compared to its counterparts in the discrete manufacturing and fashion (apparel) industry segments. Indeed, the Process PLM solution market is a mosaic of specialized vendors, starting with enterprise resource planning (ERP) vendors with some process PLM capabilities (i.e., SAP, Oracle, and Infor) and pure-play PLM vendors (i.e., Siemens Industry Automation Division and Dassault Systemes). In addition, there are many toolset-oriented niche vendors and document management system (DMS)-oriented point solutions.
My recent article entitled “Why Should Enterprises Manage their Contracts Closely?” analyzed the importance of enterprise-wide contract lifecycle management (CLM) solutions and stated that many enterprises still use inappropriate makeshift tools to manage their important contractual terms and conditions. The article concluded with the fact that enterprise resource planning (ERP) systems handle transactional details of an organization whereas CLM systems handle contract and commitment management. In other words, there is room for both systems in an organization to work in tandem.
Part 1 of this blog series analyzed Epicor and SYSPRO, the two renowned enterprise resource planning (ERP) mid-market incumbents that heavily harness Microsoft’s platform tools. To that end, the business productivity tools that were illustrated in my recent blog post on what 2010 might have meant to Microsoft’s business solutions (which reflected on the highly publicized mid-2010 launch of Microsoft Office 2010, SharePoint Server 2010, and Visio 2010) were illustrated in context of Epicor and SYSPRO’s technology environments.
Part 2 will analyze how Epicor and SYSPRO are addressing other enterprise applications capabilities and market trends. What role might Microsoft’s tools play (or not play) in these regards?
Part 1 of this blog series introduced ClickSoftware Technologies (NASDAQ: CKSW), which until recently had focused solely on workforce and service optimization software solutions for large field service companies. Gradually, via both internal development and a few appetizing acquisitions in 2009, the vendor added a few important growth engines, such as mobile computing solutions, shift planning (rostering) solutions, and solutions for the Small to Medium Businesses (SMBs).
Part 2 then analyzed the individual modules and logical bundles of the vendor’s flagship Service Optimization Suite as well as a number of original concepts that have differentiated ClickSoftware in the field service workforce optimization market. One of these concepts is the so-called real-time service enterprise.
My 2009 series on a few good supply chain management (SCM) players portrayed Manhattan Associates (NASDAQ: MANH) and RedPrairie Corporation as fierce competitors. Indeed, these two vendors continue to duke it out at almost every large-scale selection deal for a warehouse management system (WMS), distribution labor management system (LMS), or transportation management system (TMS) solution.
Curiously, both vendors are now headquartered in Atlanta, Georgia, US, after RedPrairie’s mid-2010 HQ move from Waukesha, Wisconsin, US (which remains a major office that is undergoing a major renovation). Atlanta is also the base for Infor, Logility, CDC Software, Servigistics, and many other enterprise software companies, but I digress.
Over a last few years these two vendors have also pursued somewhat different expansion routes from their traditional supply chain execution (SCE) realms, where they will likely face different competitors. Recently, at the National Retail Federation (NRF) Big Retail Show 2011, I had a chance to meet with both vendors to discuss their strategies.
Every year-ending holiday season reminds us of the importance of consumer spending and the retail sector for the United States (US) and global economies. Many economists and pundits are then awaiting with trepidation the Black Friday sales outcome and reported consumer sentiment or Consumer Confidence Index (CCI) as bellwethers of the economy in the New Year.
While this past holiday season seems to have gone quite well for most retailers (especially in terms of their online business growth) according to a recent National Retail Federation (NRF) announcement, hardly any retailer can now relax and breathe a sigh of relief. Retailers are in a tough business and are constantly seeking tools to enable them to delicately balance their sales, inventory, and profit figures.
Many recent TEC articles have talked about quote-to-order (Q2O) or configure, price, quote (CPQ) solutions that facilitate business-to-consumer (B2C) and business-to-business (B2B) sales, thus helping companies sell more products and services faster. A number of thriving vendors provide on-demand product configurator, pricing and quoting, proposal generator, and B2B eCommerce (self-service portals, product catalogs, etc.) software solutions. These Web-based offerings facilitate sales across their customers’ diverse channels by streamlining their sales processes, from opportunity to order.
Using Q2O/CPQ solutions, dispersed sales teams and channels can quickly configure products, generate quotes, proposals and contracts, manage complex pricing, and manage orders. Most recently, I’ve reported on Cameleon Software’s bullish posture. The company was visibly present at salesforce.com’s annual Dreamforce 2010 user conference expo floor, making hay out if its Apple iPhone- and iPad-enabled sales application and integration to the Salesforce Chatter cloud collaboration product.
My recent blog post on what 2010 might have meant to Microsoft’s business solutions reflected on the highly publicized mid-2010 launch of Microsoft Office 2010, SharePoint Server 2010, and Visio 2010. For the hundreds of thousands of people around the world who use some combination of one or more of Microsoft Dynamics ERP products, Microsoft Dynamics CRM, Microsoft Office, and Microsoft SharePoint Server to run their businesses, that announcement has provided opportunities for increased business productivity.
The article then analyzed the current state of affairs at Microsoft Dynamics, which also included some recent wins over mature SAP, Oracle, and Sage product instances. But what about Epicor and SYSPRO, the two prominent enterprise resource planning (ERP) mid-market incumbents that also heavily harness Microsoft’s technologies? Well, while Microsoft Dynamics doesn’t particularly enjoy losing deals to these vendors, the Microsoft parent still ultimately wins, given that these independent software vendors (ISVs) are two of the most loyal Microsoft technology promoters.