The process of integrating stakeholders such as purchasing, finance, sales, marketing, customers, and suppliers into the processes of designing new products and changing specifications of existing products. The traditional product development lifecycle is often characterized by poor cross-functional and even poorer cross-enterprise communication. Collaborative design, or concurrent engineering, supports new work practices and provides new tools aimed at resolving these problems by supporting greater integration of people and processes. By adopting this new culture of enhancing and sharing engineering knowledge through Web-based virtual networks, companies can gain greater control over their product development lifecycle.
Available-to-promise (ATP) and capable-to-promise (CTP) features support customer self-service order processing by enabling the system to automatically advise customers concerning product availability and delivery status. ATP is the more simplistic version, looking only at availability of specific finished goods inventory, while CTP determines the ability to make goods available by looking at material, labor, and production capacity availability. Availability data for the company's own products is accessed via an interface to the internal ERP system, while corresponding data for supply chain partner products is accessed via Internet technology. Customer access is typically through a Web browser inquiry, or B2B customers may receive file updates as they occur through automatic system-to-system transmission. Typical ATP/CTP information requests include immediate and future product availability by
quantity, anticipated delivery dates by specific order, and the ability to create "what if scenarios with quantities and promise dates.
Also referred to as virtual warehousing, this operating methodology permits a seller to present a multitude of products to the marketplace even though the seller does not actually produce, stock, or even own these products. The products are presented in a centralized fashion by combining product availability from multiple warehouses that may be owned by multiple companies. The seller never takes possession of the products but appears to the marketplace as a provider of a multitude of products with minimal capital investment.
Transportation Management Systems—TMS
Management of the processes and systems required for movement of products and services between channel partners. Key components of TMS are integrated information flow, rate updates, manifesting/documentation, integrated receiving, seamless invoice payments, workflows, and carrier availability.
From the above itemization of alternatives, one can see just how complex modern-day system selection and implementation projects have become. Add to this the volatility we are certain to experience in the next few years as vendor consolidation disrupts the marketplace and new technology developments introduce even more alternatives, and the challenge of making the right decision becomes even tougher. Gone are the days when a company could satisfy most of its system needs from one or two technology vendors. The reality is that we