Business Intelligence in Supply Chain Management
In today’s uncertain business climate the success depends more on the ability and experience to understand the past. From regularly scheduled strategic planning to events such as mergers and acquisitions, expansions, corporate re-structuring and product launches – the list of situations in which organizations seek a window into the future to reduce risk and uncertainty is endless. Globalization and competitive pressure and ‘overhead creep’ are often cited as caused as cash flow issues.
Supply chain analytics (e.g. dashboards showing on-time versus late shipments along with detailed shipment information, charts and graphs with information on current shipment location and other costs) are contributing to more effective decisions, improving both the quality of supply chain decision-making and time to response. If you are a supply chain manager, an executive or an end user with a role in supply chain, you can leverage the flexible, personalized features of today’s BI solutions to monitor and analyze inventory trends, vendor performance and distribution network efficiency and to respond accurately to business needs.
How and where to source contracts is a crucial tactical level supply chain management decision. Business Intelligence and analytics can help in giving various statistics taking into consideration large number of parameters for an optimized decision. Some of the effective parameters may be looking into the previous history of the contractors, their bidding amount, their response to deadlines, the acceptability ratio of their work, the support network they have, the feedback of their other work, what is the best possible way to get a good contractor advertisement in print or electronic media or contacts etc.
Another important tactical level decision is about the production, scheduling and planning processes. How to produce, how much to produce, quality attributes to be considered into production, environmental constraints, employees safety and security, how to schedule product delivery, how to deliver, time required for each process, how to optimize various processes, key process areas for each functional unit to be considered seriously etc. These are some areas where business analytics and intelligence can be really helpful in generating these reports based on the statistics from the knowledge base for effective decision making in a rapidly changing environment.
Benchmarking of all important attributes against competitors and implementing the best practices throughout the enterprise is very important to ensure quality. Most of the attributes or the thresholds in this category are domain specific and standards need to be strictly followed to achieve them. Historical reports regarding achievements of thresholds and shortfalls can be easily filtered from the record set of the business intelligence and decisions in accordance to the reports can be made easily. Based on the patterns the business intelligence system in itself can suggest few benchmarks to be kept in future iterations of deliverables to ultimately achieve the best quality.
Inventory decisions including quantity, quality and location of inventory are also important factors in the SCM. How much to be produced, quality of the product required by customers, region based quality levels, how many days the product can be kept in store, best before the date specified, how to produce and supply so that less stays in store, optimized location of inventory to be closely accessible to the relevant client etc.
Transportation strategy is one other factor where intelligent solution can predict the best possible transportation mode for product delivery. How much to deliver in one go and that too optimized for cost, fuel, delivery time, handling are all to be considered while making these decisions. The business analytics can make all these decisions for you based on the knowledge base hence making your life easy and hassle free to make any calculations and is error free.
Milestone payments and Customer demands are few other important attributes of supply chain management. Payment records, maintaining histories, generating revenue reports, getting financial review for each function of the organization/team etc are few of the important attributes where business analytics can help.
The rapid business supply chain management environment and effective decision making is key to success. Having a very formal solution that generates reports and patterns for you just on the basis of few clicks and keeps all your important company statistics is the need of time. The effectiveness of business intelligence in the SCM is getting mature and lots of companies are using it now to have a competitive edge over others. Hence the importance of an intelligence solution cannot be denied and is the way to move forward.