IT hosting service for supply chain management

Aircraft Engineering and Aerospace Technology

ISSN: 0002-2667

Article publication date: 1 June 2000




(2000), "IT hosting service for supply chain management", Aircraft Engineering and Aerospace Technology, Vol. 72 No. 3.



Emerald Group Publishing Limited

Copyright © 2000, MCB UP Limited

IT hosting service for supply chain management

Keywords Fourth Shift, Software, Supply-chain management

Fourth Shift Europe announces a major new e-business initiative that will be launched on to the European market in the second quarter of this year. The company will offer an application service provider (ASP) facility to its customers and make the full suite of Microsoft-based Fourth Shift supply chain management software available as a leased or outsourced service running over the Internet.

Fourth Shift Europe claims that the company's ASP hosting initiative will bring significant improvements in overall management of the supply chain for many small to medium-size enterprises (SMEs) and the regional manufacturing subsidiaries of multinational corporations.

"For customers, the compelling reason to adopt this approach is that they will be able to outsource or devolve the entire responsibility for the running and maintenance of their supply chain management software to outside specialists. They will be able get back to concentrating on their core competence and real business focus - manufacturing", says John Wolfenden, managing director of Fourth Shift Europe.

"In addition", he says, "using this facility means that the customer is always operating on the very latest version of the software. The responsibility for maintenance and updates is transferred completely to the outside supplier."

The new initiative from Fourth Shift is believed to have important implications for manufacturers in a worldwide supply chain. By means of the company's new ASP capability, sites and users with a connection to the Internet may access the Fourth Shift system from anywhere around the globe, at any time of the day or night, every day of the year. In turn their customers and suppliers can check the status of orders, deliveries and project progress. "This new initiative from Fourth Shift Europe has major implications in shortening and speeding supply chain management", says Wolfenden.

The reason quoted behind Fourth Shift's initiative is simple: computing and telecommunications technology is changing rapidly and becoming increasingly complex. It is now much harder for manufacturers to keep up with these changes and find expert human resources with the right level of skill and experience to manage and deploy supply chain management software, Internet technology and related developments.

"In a world that is widely adopting outsourced services, it makes sense to delegate this area of facilities management and operations to an external and specialist supplier of hosted services - an ASP", says Fourth Shift's Wolfenden. The simpler and more cost-effective approach to IT in manufacturing has been made possible because of two developments. First, the rapid developments in Internet and related technologies. Second, the company's recent launch of a fully Web-enabled version of a comprehensive supply chain management software suite - called Fourth Shift e-RP - which is based on the company's existing enterprise resource planning (ERP) backbone system.

The entire suite of thin client-based Fourth Shift e-RP software and companion products, including automated product configurator, advanced planning and scheduling (APS), customer relationship management (CRM) and field service management systems, will operate over the World Wide Web.

Customers may choose to run Fourth Shift's new supply chain management ASP facility over the public domain Internet or opt for the more secure intranet, or private Internet system. Through Microsoft BackOffice technology, Fourth Shift Europe can also provide a combination of front and back office applications and remote diagnostic services for system maintenance.

Existing and prospective customers may still buy and install Fourth Shift software and maintain the system themselves if they prefer. "The ASP facility is simply another option that we have added to the company's range of products and services", says Wolfenden.

Details available from: Fourth Shift Europe. Tel: +44 (0) 118 975 4000; Fax: +44 (0) 118 975 4011; E-mail:

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