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South Africa lags in supply chain management adoption


Using supply chain management (SCM) to gain competitive advantage is no longer possible in more advanced countries such as the US, Germany and India. 

This is in stark contrast to South Africa where Ashley Ellington, MD of Softline Enterprise, says that most mid-market companies have yet to adopt this technology to drive competitive advantage or even use it as a mechanism to improve service delivery.
“While SCM technology has evolved and we have seen interest from big companies running ‘just in time’ assemblies within the automotive and manufacturing sectors, there has been very little uptake by other industry sectors,” says Ellington.  He says those that do utilise SCM see it as an extension to their ERP systems, using it to connect to complex supply chains."
But the adoption levels are still too low and there is a dire need for business education according to Ellington. In particular, he says the retail sector should be looking at the value SCM will add to their businesses and not stop at implementing ERP and CRM solutions.
“The answer lies in implementing an integrated ERP and CRM system which is tightly coupled to SCM,” says Ellington. “In doing this you will avoid disparate functionality and systems across the supply chain and will also ensure that you do not limit your efficiencies to your internal systems only.”
Ellington’s approach has merit because a connected SCM system will also deliver seamless flow of real-time information across the supply chain.  He believes that this is key to success in emerging markets, such as the one in South Africa.  “It all starts with a robust ERP system that becomes a vital link in the integrated supply chain, serving as the central planning and control system,” advises Ellington.
It is thus clear that a colloquial approach to SCM is no longer an option. The global marketplace of suppliers and customers is a reality, and effectively directing and managing the supply and movement of products across the world demands a sophisticated supply chain.  
While South Africa plays catch-up, developed countries have moved on to find new ways to provide supply chain excellence and add new competitive advantage.