Though supply chain software goes by many different names, there are two essential categories: planning and execution. Planning applications predict future demand; execution applications make that future happen.The crystal ball software is harder to develop, because planning applications rely on complex algorithms, says Robert Ferrari, analyst at Boston-based AMR Research. Execution is more down-to-earth?including order management and warehouse fulfillment, for example?but it requires deep knowledge and practical experience. Vendors like to say they handle both planning and execution, but CIOs should be skeptical of any company touting expertise in both, warns Ferrari. There\u2019s just too much ground to cover in each area for vendors to do it all, he says.He recommends starting out with demand planning first to understand what customers will want when. A move to more execution-oriented applications can follow.