I frequently get calls from people who have been looking at supply chain planning software for months and cannot make a decision. They ask me, "Which vendor should I choose?" I never make the decision for them. Instead, I facilitate a discovery process.
When it comes to selecting the right supply chain planning software, buyers really should base their decision on whether the engine and the data model fit their particular operation. Unfortunately, many find it difficult to make this determination. That's because most technology vendor presentations sound alike, and the buyers' business teams cannot determine the important differences from demos.
So what's my recommendation? Selection teams need to adopt former U.S. President Ronald Reagan's slogan, "Trust, but verify." They need to ask software companies to demonstrate the proof of their claims.
How to verify
How do you get this verification? I recommend inviting your most promising technology providers to participate in a proof of concept. In other words, hold a series of "bake-offs" that tests the different software solutions against your particular use cases. Carefully provide the candidates with your requirements, and ensure that your team is clear and in alignment on what the success criteria will be.
Here are some suggestions for testing specific supply chain planning modules:
The unfortunate news is that few companies do this type of testing. I believe that this lack of testing is one of the reasons why software satisfaction is so low. While there is a nominal fee and a requirement of time and energy, performing such tests makes a difference in the end.
Five more recommendations
In addition to testing, I have five more recommendations for companies looking to purchase a new supply chain planning suite. These suggestions are based on my 20 years of following this market.
In my experience, a little bit of healthy skepticism and some rigorous testing can go a long way toward making sure you don't end up like many supply chain software users: dissatisfied with your implementation.