There are many systems that companies invest in to have power the supply chain: transportation management systems (TMS), enterprise resource planning (ERP) platforms, warehouse management systems, and a ton of other shipping software solutions.

However, it’s in sharing data and automating the processes between systems, instead of keeping them isolated, that cross-departmental supply chain processes are optimized. This, in turn, increases logistics management and operational efficiency, and provides stellar customer experience.

Shipping data integration can be the difference that allows small parcel shipping companies, or freight shippers to disrupt the traditional shipping processes in order to increase supply chain management efficiency. Imagine an ERP system receiving sales orders electronically from the customer relationship management, the processing of orders and scheduling of deliveries happening automatically, then an updated stock and delivery information is sent back to the CRM system.

Integration and automation among the different systems can lead to a faster order fulfillment, cost reduction, and increased customer satisfaction.

Integration for new efficiency in the supply chain

Here’s several more examples of how integrated data can lead to new efficiency in logistics and supply chain management:

Real-time reporting – integrated shipment data from transportation management systems allows the supply chain personnel make better decision based from a comprehensive and accurate picture of supply chain related activities within the organization (e.g. marketing, product life cycle management, sales, manufacturing, procurement, warehousing, transportation, and finance)

Accurate demand forecasting – having the ability to put in an updated sales data into your ERP can lead to more accurate orders for raw materials, which would lead to more efficient deliveries, which in turn results to higher customer satisfaction and better margins due to reduced costs on transportation and inventory.

Supply chain customization – one problem companies face is that they unintentionally treat clients differently. They may exceed expectations for some but provide less satisfactory service to others. Being able to customize what TMS, ERP, WMS, etc. data and services are needed to best improve the logistics management of each client will help them all save money shipping.

Integrating data between the ERP and CRM systems can address this problem and allow you to create dedicated supply chains in consideration to a client’s service level agreement while providing the best value at lowest possible cost.

Addressing accuracy gap – In order for operational goals to meet brand image and corporate values, all logistics expenses should be analyzed to create a more comprehensive picture of shipping spend. Small parcel auditing and or freight auditing services to help ensure your company is doing well might be a good option.

Earn ‘preferred shipper’ status – carriers like working with businesses that boost their efficiency. By integrating your ERP with your yard management and warehouse management software and TMS to allow short dwell times and long tender lead times, you’re more likely to be given the ‘preferred shipper’ status by your carrier.

Full control over finances – visibility and control throughout the entire life cycle of a shipment- from approval of purchase to final invoice payment, provides full insight of cash flow and financial commitments of shipping spend. Integrating the procure to pay function allows the ERP systems to extend to the final documents to confirm that goods were received and signed for before invoices are paid.

Production management improvement – Since the PLM is designed to manage the development of a product and the ERP is supposed to manage resource planning, it makes sense to make sure that these systems are fully integrated.

Companies that integrate data and processes within the different business systems can optimize their supply chains and improve their customer service from order up to delivery.

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