Supply Chain Analytics: You’re Doing It Wrong -Part 1


If you keep up with the latest supply chain trends, I’m sure you know the importance of Supply Chain Analytics.  What you don’t know is, you’re doing it wrong.

Supply Chain Analytics Strategies

When I talk to companies about the performance of their current Supply Chain Analytics strategy, I often hear one of two scenarios:  They are either starving for information and insights or have bitten off more than they can chew and don’t know how, or where, to start.  Which category do you fall in?

Scenario 1: Lack of Visibility into Your Supply Chain

You would be amazed (or maybe not) how many companies I speak with who are still generating daily metrics manually!  These days business moves too fast to look at what you could have improved yesterday, last week, or last month. There is little time to take a step back to track and evaluate how you are doing and determine where you can improve.  But with the constant pressure to do more with less, being able to track how you are doing and correct inefficiencies quickly has some serious power.

Here are two examples of how having real-time insight into your procedures and outcomes can help relieve pressure and stress:

  • How can you drive when you’re looking out the rear view mirror? How do you know if you have a problem in your operation at the beginning of the day? If you have an annual review or are asked to provide an update on how things are going, how can you show that you are excelling versus just getting things done, or even worse, what if you’re doing a poor job and don’t even know it? Analytics can help show concrete data that measures apples to apples every time providing valuable proof points for all kinds of scenarios.
  • We need “clean data” before we can turn on analytics. These are called unknown unknowns, and they can be a thorn in your side. You don’t know what you know. Without any visibility, how are you identifying the inefficiencies and gaps that may currently exist?  Each little inefficiency that is hiding can make a big difference to the bottom line when compounded over a length of time.  Analytics can help you immediately identify when things are not performing efficiently so you can correct them sooner rather than later saving you both time and money.

Now let’s take a look at the flip-side: Scenario 2.

Scenario 2: Your Data is Too Big

If you are currently tracking data and using an analytics solution, pat yourself on the back.  You are so far ahead of those in Scenario 1. Or are you?

All too often we see companies dive head first into an analytics strategy.  This often includes a Big Data solution to start collecting data from across the organization and building Business Intelligence analytics, but is it the road to Supply Chain Analytics success?

Eventually you may be able to track your most pressing KPIs and identify some actions to take to improve your operation, but you’re probably going to be lost in Big Data for a while.  Let me explain.

Big Data and the Supply Chain

“Big Data” is one of those terms that is thrown around a lot.  In fact, if you Google Big Data you come up with 275 million results in one second, that even beats out searching for cat videos (252 million).  I guess you could say it’s kind of a big deal.

According to Gartner, Big Data is high-volume, high-velocity and/or high-variety information assets that demand cost-effective, innovative forms of information processing that enable enhanced insight, decision making, and process automation.  In other words, Big Data incudes all the data being created every second of every minute of every day, far too much and too frequent for a person to handle effectively.  Congratulations on using a Big Data solution to tame the wild beast!

Tracking data across your entire organization, from finance and marketing through to sales and distribution, is a great start.  But how does all that data in your Big Data solution apply to you and your supply chain?  Chances are, it doesn’t.  But don’t worry – there is a better way.

Finding a Working Supply Chain Analytics Strategy

No matter which scenario you fall into, don’t give up hope.  I’ve been working in the supply chain industry for years to solve problems such as these for people like you.  All you need is a solid foundation to start building your strategy from.  Demand more from your data!

Stay tuned for Supply Chain Analytics: You’re Doing It Wrong – Part 2 coming soon to see how you can kickstart your supply chain analytics strategy and start pulling out actionable insights that drive data-based decisions.

By: Alex Wakefield

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