Edge Dynamics Targets Pharma Supply Chains

Updated: The vendor is adding new analytics and integration capabilities to software already in use among many pharma heavy hitters-and seen by some analysts as a "unique example of what supply chain

Edge Dynamics, a supply chain management vendor specializing in the pharmaceutical space, on Monday launched Channel Commerce Management 3.0, a new edition of its software for regulatory compliance and transaction management among manufacturers, distributors, retailers and other trading partners.

First rolled out in 2003, CCM began as a tool for custom order entry, John McGrory, the companys CEO, said during a teleconference broadcast over the Web on Monday.

In Version 2.0, the software took on capabilities for VMI (vendor-managed inventory) and returns reconciliation, according to McGrory.

By now, CCM differs from reporting solutions and ERP customization tools, its closest competitors, by being "pre-built for pharma management, [with] embedded channel best practices [and] continuous, proactive channel control," he said.

John Fontanella, a supply chain analyst for Aberdeen Research, described Edge Dynamics as a "very unique" example of "where SCM and ERP are going in the future," and of the "pre-emptive analytics" that are replacing the "reactive" mode of the 1980s and the "planned analytics" that appeared in the mid-1990s with the dawn of ERP.

Instead of giving companies little choice but to do guesswork around demand—and to then "push" heavily promoted products out to their supply chains—Edge Dynamics provides an SOA (service-oriented architecture) for building flexible plans from collected data, the analyst said during the teleconference.

Edge Dynamics customer base includes major pharmaceutical makers such as Bristol-Myers Squibb Co. and King Pharmaceuticals Inc., both announced by the company at the end of September.

Customers use the software for Sarbanes-Oxley compliance, to save money by getting a more predictable picture of supply and demand, and to gain "patient safety" by detecting unusual buying patterns and making sure drugs arent sold through unauthorized channels, he said.

Essentially, the product is designed to let pharma manufacturers perform real-time analysis of data from trading partners. Customers partners might include "Big Three" wholesalers such as McKesson Corp., Cardinal Pharmaceutical Distribution and AmerisourceBergen, for example. The software can work with partner information provided in a variety of formats.

In a statement, Clint Burrus, executive vice president of managed markets for King Pharmaceuticals, said that King will use the software to help monitor inventory levels in its distribution channel.

New features in 3.0 center on improved analytics, better integration with SAP and other third-party data, and "a complete audit trail for audit decisions," according to McGrory.

"Up to 50 percent of faulty decision-making [in pharmaceutical distribution] occurs at the time of order acceptance," Fontanella said.

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Fontanella also said the rise of mobile devices and RFID, for example, means that new tools are quickly becoming available to collect more data for supply chain management.

"As SOA grows, well see integration greatly simplified. Edge Dynamics is at the forefront," said the analyst, who is Aberdeens senior vice president and research director for Supply Chain Services.

In a demo aired over the Web, Fred Mahakian, manager and solutions consultant for Edge Dynamics, showed some of the abilities of CCM 3.0.

These ranged from quick overview reports on inventory overstocks among "top 10 customers" to granular drill-downs into the exact products on the shelves of particular distributors.

Specific enhancements include a total of more than 100 pre-built configurable reports; over 50 new scorecard metrics for performance and trading partner compensation; improved data synchronization with SAP order entry data through the SAP CCM Connector; and the ability to export data into Microsoft Excel spreadsheet and Adobe PDF formats.

Edge Dynamics is also gearing up its software to integrate RFID data, CEO McGrory said, adding that the vendor expects to continue producing at least one or two new major releases of its CCM software each year.

Editors Note: This story was updated to expand on the companys customer relationships and product capabilities.

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