SCM Strategy: Use Supply Chain Intelligence to improve operations

With global supply chains involving more suppliers, customers and intermediaries today than ever before, managing supply chain-wide information and knowledge effectively is becoming critical to business success.

If we need to improve the performance of supply chain, then first of all, we need to know where exactly we lack. World over, customers are getting more and more demanding and they now need faster and accurate fulfillment. To add to this, the demand is changing fast and organizations need to add capability to become flexible in responding to demand changes. On top of this, supply chain is increasingly becoming more and more complex due to globalization and there are much more KPIs coming into picture, to be controlled and improved so that the overall supply chain performance is improved.

Supply Chain Intelligence or Business Intelligence  for Supply Chain operations takes different forms and can be either operations focused (tactical)...
 or strategic (when the analysis helps to understand complex past trends, forecasts future process outcomes and recommend actions that can have a profound impact on the organizations).

In today’s world there are multiple challenges to improve Supply Chain intelligence like lack of communication across departments and with suppliers and customers, resource skill set gap for SCM analysis or lack of pertinent software capabilities. Another challenge that many organizations do not accept openly is the lack of alignment between business goals and IT capabilities or roadmap.

To overcome these challenges, companies need to focus on several strategic actions and initiatives aimed at improving supply chain visibility, data quality and the implementation of more advanced supply chain analytical capabilities. These strategic actions include improvement in monitoring of supply chain processes to enable real time decisions, increase focus on supply chain data quality improvement, add capability to simulate multiple scenarios to analyze supply chain planning and execution processes and create timely executive reporting for key metrics. When we say timely executive reporting for key metrics, it means that companies need to add capabilities to not only provide visibility into critical supply chain operational metrics but also should be able to show internal (inter departmental) as well as external (supply chain partners like suppliers, customers etc.) collaboration data.

Obviously, technology can help here a lot by first cleansing the data, measuring the KPIs and even providing a drill down capability for executives to determine causes of business level changes which we also call as root cause analysis. The more you have these capabilities; more are the chances of improved supply chain performance in the organization. Again, these intelligence capabilities should be least manual and more automatic. Higher the number of automated reports means better supply chain intelligence.

It is high time, organizations start putting more efforts in Supply Chain intelligence in addition of their regular focus areas, so that a comprehensive improvement in supply chain performance can be achieved.

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