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Supply Chain Visibility Software: In-House vs. Outsourced

Supply chain visibility can uncover  many hidden opportunities within a company’s global supply chain, and the most effective way  to reach this end-to-end visibility is through data centralization. In today’s complex, and ever-evolving, supply chain domain, robust visibility software is the recommended  way to aggregate and manage data and connect  numerous technology systems within a complex supply chain environment

Investing in a supply chain visibility platform is a vital step to properly leveraging supply chain data and executing  better business decisions. When businesses make a decision to enhance their supply chain visibility through technology, the choice ultimately comes down to two options: use a SaaS-based solution or to develop one in-house. 

What Challenges Does a Robust Visibility Platform Address?

The key issue with end-to-end supply visibility in complex supply chains is the multitude of disparate data sources. Different carriers and supply chain partners have various technical systems and capabilities. Some use modern technologies and advanced data infrastructures, and some are still using email notifications and manual processes. Such a wide variance  in the capabilities of these systems requires a dynamic  integration layer to support multiple data exchange protocols and support maximum automation within the supply chain.

Another challenge occurs when carriers and stakeholders try to update their data systems all at once.   This simple update process places an increased burden on  in-house IT resources, who are constantly struggling to juggle enterprise system maintenance and have limited time, or resources, to address supply chain issues.

Global supply chains are  complex ecosystems fraught with different data sources, infrastructures.  This complexity demands the need for highly exception-oriented logistics data management across all transport modes and regions of the world. . Consequently, robust visibility software requires a smooth integration and automation to all partners’ systems, without putting a bigger strain on the organization’s IT department. 

Build vs Buy: Difference Between Internal and External Supply Chain Management Software Options 

Choosing a visibility software solution eventually comes down to two options: building in-house software or using an outsourced SaaS platform. While both solutions have their pros and cons, the best choice for you will depend on your budget and business needs. 

In-House Supply Chain Software: Pros and Cons

In-house visibility software provides more flexibility and offers the opportunity for  complete customization. This  is a good option if you have specific supply chain needs, or business models, that require a customized  approach. However, this can be  an expensive solution. Apart from the initial design, development and implementation costs, a custom solution will require constant maintenance of rates and business rules, in addition to problem resolution. . This option comes with a hefty price tag and requires dedicated  IT resources on the company’s side. ROI concerns restrain many companies from implementing supply chain visibility software due to serious concerns regarding the short term and long term costs. 

The Advantages of Internal Supply Chain Software

  • Flexibility 
  • Customization
  • More control over features and capabilities

The Disadvantages of In-House Supply Chain Software

  • High development & maintenance costs
  • Long development & implementation time
  • Constant need for an in-house IT team

Outsourced Supply Chain Software: Pros and Cons

Fortunately, there are proven SaaS visibility platforms available  to partner with for outsourcing your supply chain visibility needs. These solutions typically offer less business specific customization, but an outsourced option can provide many other important benefits. First, the implementation process is quick and frictionless, which means no disruption to your supply chain flow. Second, they are offered at a much more reasonable cost and provide more flexibility. SaaS visibility platforms now have proven customer track records,this allows you to work with a reliable partner for a manageable price and access to an experienced team of software professionals for implementation and system management.

The Advantages of External Supply Chain Software:

  • Ready-to-go solution
  • No IT resources needed 
  • Fast and frictionless implementation
  • Much cheaper, with the same ROI 
  • Proven customer track record & testimonials
  • A wide range of solutions to choose from

The Disadvantages of Outsourced Supply Chain Software:

  • Less customization
  • Data security concerns
  • Less control over features and functionality

Next Steps: Build vs Buy Supply Chain Management Software

While both types of solutions have their benefits and disadvantages, the ultimate choice will  be driven by specific business needs. Your solution will be driven by your  budget, current IT resources, supply chain complexity, and your timeline for gaining supply chain visibility.  For most companies, a SaaS visibility platform will be a more convenient and rewarding choice. 

SaaS has a combination of factors that make it a low-effort and low-cost option, thus delivering  greater ROI in the long run. Probably, the most compelling factor is the speed of set-up for visibility solutions like Agistix, which  takes only a few weeks to set up and be operational.. Apart from cost and implementation time, there is a wide pool of SaaS platforms to choose from, and the ability to flexibly choose a reliable and proven provider. Ultimately, a company should clearly define its business needs and then evaluate  the previously mentioned  key factors when investing in supply chain visibility software. 

Learn more about Agistix solutions here!


Trevor Read

President at Agistix based in San Francisco. I am an entrepreneur with a passion for data, and technology. I am results-oriented and committed to developing fast-deployment solutions to help customers seize the new opportunity coming from big data in the global supply chain.

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