Supply chain analytics for a solid supply chain strategy

Use Supply Chain Analytics for a Data-Driven Supply Chain Strategy  

Inaccurate data is worse than worthless; it’s worthlessness you pay for and it can actively harm your decisions instead of helping them. Across your supply chain are numerous points where data can skew, hide, or outright lie to you while it lives in disparate systems that may or may not speak the same language.  

Trying to bring all that data together to achieve useful insight for your business can become like a grade school story problem but with more complexity, infinite variables, and higher stakes: If a train leaves Little Rock at 6:32am traveling 60 mph westbound and a butterfly flaps its wings to the east in Siberia at 6:43pm causing a typhoon in the Pacific, how long will shipments be delayed at the ports in California and what will that cost you? 

It Starts with Data and Supply Chain Analytics Strategy 

Data doesn’t mean anything in isolation. Chaotic datasets and unclear strategies won’t help you make smarter decisions; they’ll leave you scrambling to cover for events in your supply chain you didn’t see coming. Strong data and analytics strategies coupled with supply chain strategy clear the path for your business to plan, execute, and serve your customers at the highest level—no matter what happens.  

What Do I Do with All This Data? 

There is no data-driven business without first understanding what data you’re collecting, how it can be tapped, and the return on investment for using it. And make no mistake: outdated systems and strategies make your data inaccessible, leaving you behind your competitors and unable to measure your own progress.  

The difficult questions don’t find answers until you assess your current data reality and align it to your goals. A data-driven supply chain strategy—a clear plan outlining data and analytics solutions unique to your business and its supply chain, mapped to your business goals —can give you the competitive advantage you need. 

Consider the multiple components of a supply chain: parts manufacturers, vendors, storage facilities, transportation companies, distribution centers, and retailers. An issue with any link in the chain affects the others. There’s a staggering amount of data to collect, let alone analyze and use as a basis for decision-making.  

Late notice of a delivery delay leaves you trying to come up with plan B in a blind panic. Whatever options you can source will be costly and suboptimal. But what if you could have a big-picture view, one that sees and understands all moving parts and how they interact before they converge to throttle your bottom line?  

By combining known risks with patterns and trends in your supply chain, supply chain analytics can predict future concerns with ample time to get your backup plan together. Supply chain analytics amplifies your organization’s ability to make better, more accurate decisions fast, reducing costs and setting you up for quicker, more efficient delivery. 

Your Data-Driven Supply Chain Strategy 

Supply chain analytics makes forecasting an intelligent, accurate operation rather than a higher-stakes version of your first season of fantasy football. It will give you advance knowledge to be far more responsive to customer needs and any potential obstacles. 

This means gathering data from each step of your supply chain—from acquiring raw materials, the production process, distribution, retail or online sales, and shipping to consumers. Being able to integrate all those data points with the variables impacting them enables you to see the relevant data at every step in the supply chain. 

From Chaos to Informed Decision-Making 

When your entire supply chain is visible, you gain real-time understanding of events that may impact your suppliers, your organization, and ultimately your customers. With supply chain analytics, you’re in a much better position with more advance notice to weigh costs of alternate ways to serve your customers when your original plan detours. 

Here are some conversations a data-driven supply chain strategy can spark, providing ample time for you to find answers: 

  • A drought this year will impact the price and quality of your choice wood for next year’s manufacturing. Is there an alternate raw material? 
  • One of your suppliers has a staffing issue that impacts their output. How can you adjust your schedule to accommodate this temporary concern? 
  • There’s a high demand for your product in midwestern chain retailers. How can you cost-effectively get more to them quickly? 
  • Getting your product through required agency signoffs before an anticipated government shutdown is possible if you run double manufacturing shifts. Does the math make sense? 
  • Distribution through the ports in California is stagnating your flow. How can you still best serve your customers? 

How to Thrive No Matter What Happens 

Clean up those datasets so you know you can trust the integrity of the information. And work on a data-driven supply chain strategy by incorporating supply chain analytics to give your company the big-picture view it needs to make better decisions faster. You won’t just stay relevant; you’ll thrive. 

Get an actionable assessment on your current data reality. 

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