This article was originally posted on January 14, 2016, and last updated March 2, 2018.
If you manage a business that deals with physical goods, supply chain management is an important part of your business process. Whether you're running a tiny Etsy store with just a few customers, or a Fortune 500 manufacturer or retailer with thousands of products and millions of customers worldwide, it's important to have a close understanding of your inventory and the parts and raw materials you need to make your products.
Keeping track of physical items, suppliers, customers, and all the many moving parts associated with each can greatly benefit from, and in some cases be totally dependent on, specialized software to help manage these workflows. In this article, we'll take a look at some free and open source software options for supply chain management and some of the features of each.
Supply chain management goes a little further than just inventory management. It can help you keep track of the flow of goods to reduce costs and plan for scenarios in which the supply chain could change. It can help you keep track of compliance issues, whether these fall under the umbrella of legal requirements, quality minimums, or social and environmental responsibility. It can help you plan the minimum supply to keep on hand and enable you to make smart decisions about order quantities and delivery times.
Because of its nature, a lot of supply chain management software is bundled with similar software, such as customer relationship management (CRM) and enterprise resource planning (ERP) tools. So, when making a decision about which tool is best for your organization, you may wish to consider integration with other tools as a part of your decision-making criteria.