CIOs Want a Single-Vendor Supply Chain

But does one actually exist? A Forrester Research report wades through the players (Manhattan Associates, RedPrairie, Oracle, SAP) and offers a surprising answer.

It's not shocking to hear that CIOs would love to have a single vendor's set of applications running up and down their supply chain. Siloed, inefficient systems aren't much fun, but they're an unfortunate fact of life for many enterprises.

A recent report by Forrester Research analyst Patrick Connaughton found that just 18 percent of the 66 supply-chain decision-makers surveyed could boast a single, pre-integrated supply chain management (SCM) suite. In contrast, 53 percent said they have implemented multiple standalone SCM applications.

Connaughton notes that many CIOs are seriously looking into a purchasing a system from a single vendor to help cut down on the complexity. "The problem?" Connaughton asks. "One end-to-end, single-vendor solution has yet to materialize."

In the October report, titled "Buyers Prefer A Single-Vendor Supply Chain Solution, But Does One Really Exist?" Connaughton writes that a select few SCM vendors, such as Manhattan Associates, RedPrairie and SAP, "have the required breadth of functionality, but there is still 'white space' in each solution. And, even when a vendor can functionally fill a gap, modules are not always integrated across the entire suite—invalidating one of the main reasons for going with a single vendor."

Right now, the simple and best strategy for CIOs is to stick with their existing ERP vendor when it comes to rolling out a SCM package, he advises. "Overall, ERP vendors like SAP, Oracle and IFS provide the greatest breadth," he writes. "For planning activities like sales and operations planning (S&OP), inventory optimization and advanced planning and scheduling, the ERP solutions as a whole have better coverage. However, for supply chain execution, the suite vendors like Manhattan Associates and RedPrairie still have a leg up in both breadth and depth."

In sum, Connaughton offers a handy yet disconcerting reminder for CIOs. "Not all solutions are created equal," he writes. "Assuming a general level of maturity in the supply chain applications space, most solutions will be able to meet your most basic requirements out of the box. All solutions, however, will require customizations to meet 100 percent of your requirements, especially those specific to an industry."

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