While today’s supply chain is exceedingly complex, one’s approach to managing it need not be. Unfortunately, as tools and so-called best practices evolve, they often propagate silos, redundancies, and failure points in the supply chain, further complicating it.
Distributed Order Management is a discipline that ought to be able to simplify this complexity – but doing so requires focusing on the order. As the simplest common denominator of what ties businesses relationships together, the order contains the essence of any commercial transaction. It identifies the buyer or seller, enumerates the products being purchased or sold, lists the prices for each, and specifies where the product must be shipped to and when.
A Distributed Order Management (DOM) solution should be brokering these orders to ensure their fulfillment from the optimal point to the required destination, on-time and in-full delivery, while minimizing costs.
Since these attributes are also consistent across all types of orders – whether sales orders, purchase orders, returns, or transfers, a well-architected DOM should work across inbound and outbound orders, across B2C and B2B orders, across product types, geographies, and different modes of transport. It must be, by design, flexible and configurable to empower businesses to quickly respond to or anticipate market shifts and convert them into opportunities for sustained differentiation and competitive advantage.
Most Distributed Order Management solutions on the market have unfortunately not been built from these fundamental principles of commerce but were developed opportunistically to target simplistic problems in a needlessly convoluted manner. Moreover, many were designed only to serve the retail and omnichannel market yet are so rigid in construct as to handicap the very users who deploy them. Usually, DOMs offer integration to a commerce server, some logic for allocating orders to a fulfillment location, and then integration with parcel carriers to execute the fulfillment process – which is fine on a basic level, but insufficient to adequately handle an enterprise’s growth nor the pressing need to quickly, continuously, and effectively adapt to change.
To truly provide businesses with such value, Distributed Order Management requires the convergence of orders, inventory, and logistics to better tie multiple suppliers, customers and enterprises together. It's a subject well worth delving deeper into, as an elegant, original approach to DOM, unencumbered by so-called ‘best practices,’ can create a lasting solution that truly serves the needs of today’s users, as well as those of the future.