The Real Cost of Manual Analytics in the Supply Chain


Supply chain management is a field where analytics offer a lot of opportunity, especially being able to track business critical KPIs in real-time.  However, many companies are still using basic office tools like spreadsheets to pull their data together. With so many advances in technology, what’s holding companies back?

Top three reasons companies aren’t adopting automated analytics.

A recent study by International Data Corporation (IDC) shows the three main reasons are:

  1. Concerns about lengthy implementation times
  2. Concerns about compatibility with other applications
  3. Concerns about high cost

These are all legitimate concerns, however, diving further into IDC’s study, it offers a number of valuable points about manual analytics and using spreadsheets as a main source to track them:

  • Advanced spreadsheet users represent about 8% of all enterprise employees.*
  • On average, advanced spreadsheet users spend 26 hours per week working in spreadsheets.*
  • Each advanced spreadsheet user can spend up to 8 hours per week repeating efforts when data sources are updated, wasting on average $12,000 per year.*

Pulling these numbers together, you can start to get a full view of the cost associated with manual analytics, but let’s look closer.

Here’s an example of the monetary costs of manual analytics.

As the video shows, the time and money spent on manually tracking analytics really starts to add up – especially as the size of company grows.

Let’s take another look at those top reasons for not adopting automated analytics.

1. Concerns about lengthy implementation times

It’s true that Big Data tools often have lengthy implementation times followed by steep learning curves, however, there are now many more agile SaaS based products on the market making it faster, cheaper, and easier to implement automated analytics.

2. Concerns about compatibility with other applications

With the popularity of Big Data came a new wave of software solutions, including multiple niche providers. So, skip the Big Data tools and find a Supply Chain specific one.  They are built to directly connect with your current applications (Think WMS, TMS, LMS, inventory, etc.) helping you get the full picture.  This also will speed up your implementation time!

3. Concerns about high cost

As seen in the video, even manual analytics don’t come cheap. The costs are just hidden in employees’ salaries. Automating your analytics can not only save you time and money, but it provides other benefits.  You can finally stop looking backwards and see how things are preforming in real-time.  This enables you to make changes on the spot to maximize efficiency and ROI every day – something you could never do with manual analytics.

So what is the real cost of manual analytics in the supply chain?  $433,420 for a 100-person company (and exponentially more for larger companies) or so much more?

*IDC Advanced Spreadsheet Users Survey commissioned by Alteryx, October 2016 N=505   &  US Bureau of Labor Statistics, Occupational Employment Statistics Survey, May 2015 Estimates


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