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Manhattan Associates Technology Review

 

Manhattan Associates Software Technology Analysis

At the core of SCOPE is a service-oriented architecture (SOA) framework that Manhattan calls the Supply Chain Process Platform (SCPP). This underlying framework delivers a consistent data model and shared objects for cross functional and departmental operations, and includes technology capabilities such as single sign-on (SSO), a common security model, a shared workflow or business process engine, integration gateways and common reporting/analytics tools. The end goal is for SCPP to permit customers to accelerate implementations, more easily integrate to legacy systems, simplify software upgrades, and achieve lower total cost of ownership.

The deployment of Manhattan Associates SCOPE software is based on four technology stacks.

  1. IBM's AIX, WebSphere and DB2
  2. IBM's AIX, WebSphere and Oracle Database
  3. Red Hat Linux, JBOSS and Oracle Database, or
  4. HPUX, WebLogic and Oracle Database

The SCOPE software is developed using Java, C++, SQL with stored procedures (on the back end) and HTML with JavaScript (on the front end). Open source software components are also used, mostly in the areas of jar files provided with the product (spring jars, apache commons, etc.). Database architecture, triggers and integrity constraints make up key elements of the Manhattan software development strategy. Multiple operating system servers are used for supporting functionality, such as browser based UI, print servers and report writers.

Manhattan Associates other non-SCOPE software products are largely based on Microsoft.net technologies and often operate on IBM's iSeries for WMi and SCALE products.

Because Manhattan does not provide customers with the software source code, changing or modifying the code is not an option, unless you contract with Manhattan directly. One of the few exceptions, although not source code based, is reporting; customers can develop and modify reports using the Crystal Report Writer. The bottom line is if the SCPP tools or configuration variables don't get you the intended results you need, then you will likely need to engage Manhattan professional services.

System Integration Capabilities

For software integration purposes, Manhattan offers an application programming interface (API) as well as web services and data exchange tools. SCPP integrates the SCOPE offerings, sharing information and events between systems. SCPP also exchanges supply chain information and events with MHE and other participants in the supply chain ecosystem.

System integration technology is based on Manhattan Associates Integration Framework (MIF) that delivers an open and flexible model for managing the import/export of data. MIF is XML-driven with XML Schemas (XSD). The standard edition facilitates a variety of protocols and transport mechanisms, including SOAP over HTTP, SOAP over JMS, and XML message queuing. With the enterprise edition, MIF provides a model for data management, including enterprise application integration (EAI) such as transformation and routing, along with a wider variety of protocol adapters.

Manhattan Associates has a good track record supporting industry standards to facilitate trading partner collaboration (VICS EDI, GS1 Bar Codes and EPC). Also, with the Logistics Gateway module, SCOPE expands its capabilities to 3PLs and trading partners lacking EDL/XML capabilities. With a web browser, Manhattan accesses Logistics Gateway's electronic forms to reduce or eliminate paperwork, integrate with SCOPE and provide more visibility into the flow of goods and products.

Supply Chain Intelligence (SCI) provides desktop and Microsoft Office integration (to Excel, PowerPoint and Word) and access to iPhone, Android, Blackberry, and Windows mobile devices.

Software Customization Options

Manhattan customers can tailor the SCOPE portfolio of SCE solutions within the software constructs via software configuration, the Manhattan Platform Services (which includes User Interface tools for changes to the UI presentation and views) and with the workflow designer. Unless customers have unique business or software requirements, they should expect few to no software modifications during the implementation. SCOPE's Studio and underlying SCPP architecture have built in tools and a SOA architecture that addresses many software configuration or customization requirements, such as:

  • Workflow Design—Defining and managing business process automation
  • Business Logic—Managing supply chain elements from planning to execution
  • Optimization—Managing costs and maintaining controls
  • Integration—Exchanging information among different systems
  • Presentation—Providing user visibility to supply chain data and events

WMOS uses three levels of business process management (BPM) for designing and modeling workflows:

  • Highest Level—workflow processes that span multiple products and modules
  • Micro Level—WMS-specific business processes, and
  • Nano Level—RF and screen behaviors, layouts, sequencing, etc.

Supply Chain Intelligence (SCI) facilitates custom analytics, metrics/KPIs, dashboards, scorecards and event/alert management.

Manhattan customers are not granted supply chain software source code, so they must contract with Manhattan Associates professional services to fix software irregularities or perform software customization. Alternatively, software programmers can code to extensions that are made to the SCOPE product, leveraging extensibility points (inward and outward web services). The API or web services allow customers to create front-end applications external to the supply chain software and in the programmers development language of choice and then use the interface to integrate the custom project to the supply chain software. To avoid compatibility and upgrade challenges with software customization changes, Manhattan uses a software management system—the Software Delivery Number (SDN)—to track and manage software changes for each customer.

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