Several best practices implementing IT tools from the European study (.pdf) …
One of the benchmarking partners has implemented one central database that is used and updated by all members of the company, [see the figure].
The database contains different elements of information related to purchasing, not in the least on costs for either buying or making parts, preferred suppliers, lead times, etc. This way, everybody can access the actual costs of the parts they should need at any time and are able to decide which parts to order or make internally.
In situations where such a database has not been implemented, e.g., at one of the industrial partners in the project, obtaining the information necessary takes much more time and requires the involvement of several other departments in the organization.
In the following example, the company actually developed their own software although similar software services are available.
Another company has designed and implemented a software tool that has also been extended to integrate the suppliers. This system facilitates the integration of different traditionally isolated systems like Product Data Management (PDM), Bills-of-Material (BOM), automatic generation of production planning and orders, management of drawings with suppliers, etc. Such a software tool is highly useful for integrating the different actors in a supply chain and help to make communications easier and faster.
Email is an obvious choice for improving communication and timeliness. However, it is worth mentioning as well as it was explicitly included in the article.
use e-mail for placing orders with suppliers. In addition to being swift and inexpensive, e-mail also offers the possibility for attaching drawings and other more complicated information to the order.
A further refinement would be to have the software service generate these emails to suppliers.