I received my SAP TERP10 Associate certification in the mail this week. Actually, the full name of the distinction is C TERP10 67 SAP Certified Application Associate – Business Foundation & Integration with SAP ERP 6.07, which required an intensive two-week long course and three-hour exam. Pursuing this certification was important to me as I aimed to solidify the past 8 months of recently completed hands-on Supply Chain Management focused SAP training. In addition, I wanted to expand on my knowledge of the Purchase-To-Pay (purchasing/procurement), Plan-To-Produce (manufacturing), Order-To-Cash (selling), FICO (financial and management accounting) and Project Systems (project management) SAP proficiencies.
ERPs (Enterprise Resource Planning) software is used by large-scale organizations to aid them in communicating their flow of raw materials and finished goods from manufacturer to consumer. It provides full financial and inventory management integration at every stage of the buying, selling and logistics functions. The key factor with any ERP is integration. In an internal intranet type network, information is restricted to within the organization. Enterprise Resource Planning software allows for major time savings, and ultimately cost savings, derived from the real-time sharing of information between buyers, suppliers, warehouses as well as across internal departments. There are three major players in the Supply Chain Management ERP market: SAP, Oracle and JD Edwards, where SAP is considered by many to be the industry’s gold standard.
An Advantage of ERPs in Supply Chain Management
One example of buyer-supplier integration at work relating to supply chain management is Vendor Managed Inventories (VMI). In VMI systems, the supplier (vendor) is responsible for maintaining the buying organization’s inventory levels. The supplier has access to the buyer’s inventory levels and ships out inventory in accordance to agreed upon thresholds, creating purchase orders in the process. An ERP such as SAP is used to communicate the buyer’s inventory levels to the seller. It can be further integrated to both organizations’ supply chain through its incorporation with the buyer’s or seller’s private carrier, or a third-party logistics provider.
An Advantage of Vendor Managed Inventories
VMI directly results in a reduction of the Bull-whip effect, where large fluctuations in demand from a consumer or industrial retailer oscillates up the supply chain through the wholesaler, distributor, manufacturer, and raw materials supplier. Real-time communication of inventories therefore leads to the cost savings associated with increased inventory management efficiency in addition to insurance against inaccurate forecasting of demand.