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Succeed in Your Supply Chain Digitalization

By Bernard Milian
Digital Puzzle Pieces

Decouple ERP, Best of Breed and Low Code

Digitizing the management of the supply chain is on the agenda of companies. By which end to take the subject, which functional domains to focus on, and which technologies to use, everything gets complicated when trying to start the process.

There is a plethora of solutions on the market, you have multiple priorities, but the limited project and financial resources: you must choose your battles to get the best return on investment and maximize the chances of success.

As with implementing an agile supply chain, the key to successful digitalization is decoupling.

Decoupling digital solutions allow you to implement a scalable system, composed of bricks that can evolve asynchronously, according to your needs.

Let’s take a closer look at this topic. Every company can implement three ecosystems: an ERP system, Best of Breed solutions, and low code applications.

Am I forgetting something? Yes, Excel (or Google Sheets), we’ll come back to that….

The ERP system

The ERP software system is the backbone of the application system: it is the system of records for technical and transactional data and supports financial reconciliation. It is an essential shared database.

For a long time, we wanted to put everything in there. Planning, WMS, CRM, etc. With no interfaces, the ERP system must be able to do everything.

Most companies have come back from this, as the result is monolithic, unsatisfactory, unscalable, and costly.

Let me quote this post from a McKinsey supply chain expert: Let’s clap 👏 the syllables together, supply chain people, so everyone remembers: E-R-P IS NOT A PLAN-NING SYS-TEM.. Reading this page on the McKinsey website describes the approach The ERP platform play: Cheaper, faster, better | McKinsey. It’s written by a German team, which is a departure from the usual messages from Germany about ERPs if you know what I mean…

As this post describes, more and more companies are reducing the functional scope of their ERP system, and shifting functionality to new digital platforms (“Best of Breed”)

Best Of Breed solutions

There are now many specialized solutions on the market, most of them cloud-based, that cover specific functional areas. CRM, WMS… Demand Driven planning for example, you get the idea.

These solutions simply provide these functionalities much better than ERP systems do. What’s more, they evolve quickly, without requiring an ERP update, since they are decoupled from it via interfaces.

This is the case for the implementation of Demand Driven techniques – DDMRP, DDOM, DDS&OP. Many ERP systems have gotten on board and injected DDMRP into inventory management tactics, for example. Few, if any, ERP systems have implemented DDOM or DDS&OP.

DDMRP functionality in ERP systems pales in comparison to what is possible in a dedicated solution like Intuiflow. This is not surprising: Best of Breed solutions have dedicated R&D teams in their field, benefit from the results of hundreds of implementations, and evolve rapidly to meet market expectations.

Decoupling parts of ERP functionalities to support them with dedicated solutions is becoming the norm, especially since with APIs, ETLs, and connectors the cost and complexity of interfacing is constantly decreasing.

Low Code applications

Yes, but. Best of Breed solutions are standard, off-the-shelf solutions – they usually cover a lot, but not everything.

My business function is different, I have a specific need.

For example, I want to automatically approve orders three times a day, yellow products at 6 a.m., red with white stripes with an order value of less than $2,500 at noon, green with white polka dots for customers defined as strategic at 6 p.m. – and alert the scheduler via email to handle exceptions. So, does your digital solution know how to do that? Well, no…

No problem, we have Excel…

Mmmh. Can we agree that Excel is a great analysis tool, but not very robust for automated, input-driven production processing? And therefore, that Excel should be excluded from your digital roadmap?

This is where Low Code applications come in. They interact with your ERP and digital cloud solutions via API. One example is Microsoft’s Power Platform. Here you can code your specific business rules and customizations, without touching the core business of your ERP or Best of Breed solutions.

This allows you to move customizations to the periphery of your digital system and decouple them via APIs. Need to adjust your business rules? No problem, just modify this brick, which is now easy to maintain!

When we tell you that decoupling is a solution to gain agility, in the management of your supply chain as in the architecture of your digital solutions!

If this topic piques your interest, consider registering for our upcoming North American User Conference taking place on May 24th and 25th in Atlanta, Ga. If you have been reading our blog posts and are ready to take the next step to apply DDMRP to your business’s supply chain, I wouldn’t recommend attending enough. If you can’t make it to Atlanta for the conference, no worries! All sessions will be live-streamed and the recordings will be made available afterward.

We will also be hosting a French User Conference (en Francais) this coming June (June 20 – 21) in Bordeaux, France. Make sure to follow us on LinkedIn for more information on our French User Conference.

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