Supply chain management tools and methods
In today's business environment, manufacturers need to manage their enterprises as an inseparable part of a supply chain. Key to achieving this is the creation of an extended and integrated information system. In an attempt to find out what needs to be done to improve current supply chain methods and tools, the current research project 1) reviewed the literature to establish current approaches to Supply Chain Management (SCM); 2) identified what tools and methods are available; 3) categorised the current approaches to supply chain management and established a current practice SCM model; 4) identified the requirements for improved SCM; 5) produced an outline requirements specification for improved SCM. The research has made a number of contributions to knowledge. A literature survey on the subject of what SCM involves and what a SCM system is was carried out and was followed by the conclusions that existing software systems have not been classified and tested against the criteria of a true SCM system. A survey of existing SCM software solutions provided data for an analysis of what typical SCM applications include and concluded that a comprehensive SCM solution currently does not exist. That conclusion was verified by a survey based on SCM expert interviews. Three case studies were carried out that looked into different parts of the supply chain and demonstrated the significance of advanced SCM functionality for each one of them. The case studies also involved the design and implementation of a supply chain mapping tool and a supplier relationship management tool. Finally, a conceptual specification of an improved SCM system was developed. The research will be of interest to practitioners in the area of SCM that are looking for ideas to improve SCM procedures and namely, are looking into implementing or developing an already existing software system for SCM. It also suggests ideas for further research, which may be of interest to research students who are interested in the area of SCM.