Summary: Many ERP vendors offer distribution software as part of their suite of enterprise applications.  What types of solutions are available and what kind of functionality do you look for in a distribution software solution?  Read on for more information.

headerbar-distribution-right Distribution Software: An ERP Asset

There are many, many distribution software packages on the market today – all delivering tremendous value to the companies who purchase and utilize them. No matter how big or small their operations may be, wholesalers, third-party or outsourced logistics service providers, and other types of distributors can benefit greatly from the implementation of a distribution software solution.

Some of these available distribution software systems are offered by smaller, specialty vendors who sell their solutions as stand-alone applications. These providers leverage their industry expertise, as well as the first hand experience and the “best practices” knowledge they’ve gained by working closely with their customers. On the flip side they are often poorly financed, built on outdated technologies and may not have the staying power of the ‘big boys’ like SAP, Microsoft or Sage in the Mid-Market

So, where does distribution software fit into the ERP landscape?

For some ERP suppliers, a distribution software system is a complete, end-to-end, pre-packed application that is designed specifically for companies in the distribution industry – including wholesalers, logistics service providers, and other firms who transport and deliver raw materials, chemicals, perishable items, apparel, and other products or finished goods.

These types of distribution software packages are “all-in-one” offerings that address everything these companies need to operate efficiently and effectively – from purchasing and procurement, order processing, billing and invoicing, and accounting and financial management (accounts payable, accounts receivable, general ledger, etc.), to customer relationship management, delivery scheduling and tracking, inventory management and replenishment, and more.

Yet other enterprise resource planning vendors market their distribution software solution as an individual module that is part of an all-encompassing suite of fully integrated applications. Their offerings include not only a system for distribution and logistics, but solutions for supply chain planning and management, financial management, human resources/human capital management, manufacturing and production, sales force automation, and other core business functions.

Which approach is the best?

Keep in mind, the major difference between ERP and distribution only software is usually that it lacks manufacturing functionality, automated supplier integration (beyond EDI) and often distribution software isn’t laden down with functionality for businesses that don’t related to a distributor.  An example of this would be project accounting.

The truth is, there is no “one size fits all” option when it comes to distribution software. Which type of distribution software system will be most effective will depend greatly on the size of a company, the complexity of its distribution processes, and the scope of its needs and requirements. For example, a small distribution company might be better served by choosing a niche distribution software vendor, who can work closely with them to refine the processes and workflows that the solution will eventually support. Yet, larger companies with more complex distribution requirements may want to consider purchasing their distribution software as part of a suite of applications that will enhance core activities across their entire enterprise.

For more information on the distribution software solutions and our practice area we work with, click HERE.