Information Technology and the Supply Chain

Based on Chopra and Meindl’s book, Supply Chain Management: Strategy, Planning, and Operation – A comprehensive introduction to  supply chain management.


The supply chain management (SCM) is concerned with the flow of products and information between the supply chain members that encompasses all of those organizations such as suppliers, producers, service providers and customers. In the supply chain, these organizations linked together to acquire, purchase, convert/manufacture, assemble, and distribute goods and services, from suppliers to the ultimate and users.
The cost and availability of information resources allow easy linkages and eliminate information-related time delays in any supply chain network. Organizations are adopting Electronic Commerce, where transactions are completed via a variety of electronic media, including electronic data interchange (EDI), electronic funds transfer (EFT), bar codes, fax, automated voice mail, CD-ROM catalogs, and a variety of others. The old “paper” type transactions are becoming increasingly becoming obsolete. Leading-edge organizations no longer require paper purchase requisitions; purchase orders, invoices, receiving forms, and manual accounts payable “matching” process. All required information is recorded electronically right at the origin, and associated transactions are performed with the minimum amount of human intervention.  With the application of the appropriate information systems, monitoring inventory levels, placing orders, and expediting orders will soon become totally automated.


The information systems and the technologies utilized in the supply chain represent one of the fundamental elements that link the organizations into a unified and coordinated system. In the current technology and process environment, little doubt remains about the importance of information and information technology to the ultimate success, and perhaps even the survival, of any supply chain management initiative. Cycle time reduction, implementing redesigned cross-functional processes, utilizing cross-selling opportunities require information. Timely and accurate information is more critical now than at any time.

Three factors have strongly impacted this change in the importance of information.

1) Satisfying customers have become something of a corporate obsession. Serving the customer in the best, most efficient and effective manner has become critical, and information about issues such as order status, product availability, delivery schedules, and invoices has become a necessary part of the total customer service experience.

2) Information is a crucial factor in the managers’ abilities to reduce inventory and human resources
requirements to a competitive level.

3) Information flows play an essential role in the strategic planning for and deployment of resources.

The need for virtually seamless bonds within and between organizations is a key notion in the essential nature of information systems in the development and maintenance of successful supply chain. That is, creating intra-organizational processes and link to facilitate delivery of seamless information between marketing, sales, purchasing, finance, manufacturing, distribution and transportation internally, as well as inter organizationally, to customers, suppliers, carriers across the supply chain will improve fill rates of the customers service, increase forecast accuracy, reduction in the total inventory and savings in the company’s’ transportation costs – goals which need
to be achieved.

In fact, inaccurate or distorted information from one end of a supply chain to the other can lead to tremendous inefficiencies such as excessive inventory investment, poor customer service, lost revenues, misguided capacity plans, ineffective transportation, and missed production schedules. Bullwhip effect, which is big variability in orders at factory level  is commonly experienced by the consumer goods industries due to lack of uniform information in the entire supply chain. Suitable technologies such as bar codes and scanners have been developed and applied in the supply chain to remove inaccuracy, time delays and gaps in communications.

Information Required to Manage Supply Chain at Global Scope Level

Supplier/Supply Information

What products can be purchased, at what price, with what lead time, and where they can be delivered. Supplier information also includes real time pending order status, purchase order amendments, and payment arrangements. This information can be used in product industrial engineering also.

Manufacturing Information

What products can be made, how many, by what facilities, with what lead time, with what trade-offs, at what cost, and in what batch size. This information can be used in process industrial engineering also.
Distribution and Retailing Information
Demand Information

e-business and the Supply Chain. – Review Notes

Global Complexity is driving Supply Chain Information  Systems into Cloud Wharton Knowledge Article January 2011

Updates on Software


London UK, 14th June – Siemens Digital Industries Software announced today the immediate availability of Siemens Opcenter™ software, a cohesive portfolio of software solutions for manufacturing operations management (MOM).

Siemens Opcenter integrates MOM capabilities including advanced planning and scheduling, manufacturing execution, quality management, manufacturing intelligence and performance, and formulation, specification and laboratory management. The new portfolio combines products including Camstar™ software, SIMATIC IT® suite, Preactor, R&D Suite and QMS Professional into a single portfolio that unifies these widely recognised products and leverages synergies between them. A fully web-based, modern, consistent, adaptive and comfortable user interface implemented throughout the Siemens Opcenter portfolio offers a situationally adapted user experience and facilitates the implementation of new capabilities and additional components while reducing training efforts.–.aspx

Updated  22 June 2019,  10 Apr 2016
9 Dec 2011