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If you're looking to save money while making Supply Chain Management more efficient, consider using cloud computing systems to manage both simple and complex tasks.

"Cloud" computing may seem nebulous, but it simply means that you're using applications hosted outside your facility and accessing them over the Web. Cloud solutions may help you save money by reducing the need for in-house IT support, decreasing energy consumption and providing pay-as-you-go or free tools to improve productivity.

PC World recently surveyed small businesses to see what cloud-based services they are using. These are the top findings.

  • For file-sharing, the Google online suite of Apps, Calendar and Docs are the most commonly selected. They give you access to shareable and fairly secure word processing, spreadsheets, presentations and video storage. These tools can put supply chain partners on the same page as you, literally. Authorized users can access data from anywhere, a boon for companies with multiple sites or managers who travel often. Two more file-sharing services are and Slideshare. Also, Dropbox automatically synchronizes shared files stored on multiple desktop, laptop or tablet computers.

  • For inexpensive long-distance phone service between distant suppliers and customers, plus the option to video-chat or use instant messaging, Skype is becoming the tool of choice. Highrise or may help you stay close to customers and integrate sales and order data. If you'd like an internal Facebook-style social networking tool for employees and supply chain partners, take a look at Yammer.

ERP and other manufacturing-specific applications that may have been out of reach until now are being released in cloud versions for smaller manufacturers. These offer functionality and features like the big systems, but at a monthly price that fits the scale of your business. SAP Sourcing OnDemand, LessSoftware on Demand Supply Chain Management and JDA Supply Chain Now offer options to explore.

Many of these systems also offer companion applications that let you access some data from your smart phone, whether you're on the plant floor or on the road.


The article you read was prepared for general information purposes by McMurry. These articles are for general information purposes only and are not intended to provide legal, tax, accounting or financial advice. PNC urges its customers to do independent research and to consult with financial and legal professionals before making any financial decisions.These articles may provide reference to Internet sites as a convenience to our readers. While PNC endeavors to provide resources that are reputable and safe, we cannot be held responsible for the information, products, or services obtained on such sites and will not be liable for any damages arising from your access to such sites. The content, accuracy, opinions expressed, and links provided by these resources are not investigated, verified, monitored or endorsed by PNC.