Supply Chain Trends

Should You Still Be Using Excel For Supply Chain Planning? 9 Signs it’s Time to Consider Other Software

While Microsoft Excel continues to enjoy massive success, modern supply chain management operations are demanding, and many logistics professionals quickly find they’ve outgrown the spreadsheet program.

Excel does offer several benefits. It’s affordably priced, easy to use, versatile, accessible, and quite functional.

However, the Microsoft program has significant limits in comparison to applications meant explicitly for supply chain operations. The following signs indicate it’s time to move on.

Nine Signs It is Time for New Supply Chain Planning Software

1) Unacceptable Error Rates

When it comes to non-essential functions, errors are generally considered a tradeoff for affordability and convenience. But when errors cause critical breakdowns, the costs to a company might be disastrous.

2) Slow Performance and Breakdowns

With Excel, unsaved data is often lost when the program crashes. On the other hand, logistics programs using a database immediately store typed data before it can be lost. Also, large volumes of data can slow down Excel, while huge database applications are built to handle massive amounts of data. Database programs are also better suited to linking together complex tables of data.

3) Long Complex Customer Lists

A business that collects and analyzes large amounts of data will quickly find Excel does not have industry-standard capacity or capabilities. Furthermore, complicated problems like multiple SKU numbers for different product types, not handled by Excel as well as they are by industry-specific programs.

4) Many Users Across the Company

Excel was initially meant to be a single-user program, and that hasn’t changed over the years. While multiple users can coordinate their efforts through version control, the program provides equal access, which increases the risk of input mistakes. Also, basic functioning can be corrupted by users trying to configure spreadsheets in different ways.

5) A Need for Real-Time Data

In a small company, supply chain employees may keep tabs on production, making adjustments in real-time when needed. In a large company, this isn’t possible, and logistics software is necessary to make adjustments based on real-time data coming from the production department.

6) A Need for Forecasting Functionality

Spreadsheet programs are designed to calculate, not perform analyses. If your supply chain personnel have come to depend on forecasts, modeling, and planning functions, Excel won’t be of much use. The latest supply chain can recognize trends and translate data to enable these essential business functions.

7) A Need for Business Intelligence Functions

Excel does not provide business intelligence functionality. Logistics software does.

8) Too Dependent on Irreplaceable Knowledge

In some logistics departments, operations are far too dependent on a long-tenured employee who’s learned all the ins and outs of Excel. By providing key insights and analyses, industry-specific software reduces the dependence on irreplaceable expertise.

9) A Need for Analytics

Most modern supply chain software uses complex algorithms to identify key insights. This is another critical function Excel does not provide.

We Can Help You Make the Most of Modern Software Tools

At ZDA, we understand that the best supply chain software is useless without people who know how to use it. Please contact us today to find out how we can help you make the most of your technology.

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