How To Transform Supply Chain Data into Valuable Insights That Drive Actionable Results
Updated: Oct 16
CEOs are not considering supply chains until something goes wrong. The task of developing consistent supply chain strategies and making data-driven decisions to improve performance is extremely undervalued. Some organizations have introduced digital visualization tools, yet they still don’t trust their supply chain data, and resort to manual scrubbing to make sense of data.
There is a huge opportunity for organizations to capitalize on which involves a combination of data, information, and insights. Creating a strategy that effectively combines all 3 elements will drastically transform raw data into valuable insights that will drive actionable results for your supply chain and business objectives.
So, how do you get started?
1. Create a Solid Data Foundation
A house is nothing without the pillars that keep it standing. A solid data foundation is the pillar of your supply chain digitization. Let’s start with what data is. Data is raw unprocessed facts, information, or statistics. The first step in creating a strong digital supply chain is having a solid data foundation. Without a solid foundation, supply chain data is virtually ineffective because it is difficult to track who access the data, if data is complete, accurate or clean.
The challenge we’ve noticed amongst supply chain professionals it that they operate in a chaotic data environment that lacks data governance or standards. With copious amounts of readily available data, those facts can’t be turned into valuable information if there is no process to ensure the data is up to industry standards.
If you are looking to improve your data foundation, but don’t know how to get started, we’ve shared a 4 Step Plan to Improve Your Supply Chain Data Quality. Building a strong data foundation has a profound impact on the quality, actions, and conclusions that an organization will move forward with therefore, setting a proper foundation is imperative to achieving higher business performance.
2. Information Presentation
Information refers to the process of data being collected, prepared, and organized in an easily digestible format that provides added context. In supply chains, raw data is transformed into information that is typically delivered through data visualization tools, reports, or dashboards. If the data foundation is weak, the deliverables will be inaccurate.
Challenges that many supply chain professionals face today aren’t about the delivery tools themselves, but rather about the lack of confidence in their data. It is common for professionals to extract data from their ERP system, export it into an Excel spreadsheet and manually scrubbing data to make sense of it. If this is your process for reporting, there’s a problem with your data. If the data foundation isn’t in place, the information presented will be less accurate which in turn will make it more difficult to make strategic decisions.
3. Driving Actionable Insights
The combination of a solid data foundation and information delivery has paved the road to actionable insights. Insights are an analysis or a deep understanding of something that allows you to draw conclusions. Determining which insights are actionable will drive more critical thinking and response.
An example we’ve seen where data has been able to drive actionable insights with our customers is through inventory expiration. A combination of clean data and a user-friendly analytics dashboard with real-time KPIs has allowed our users to see at a snapshot of which inventory is going to expire soon. With this information, they were able to easily identify the challenge before it became a problem. They took action by planning to use that inventory before it expired and became wasteful product. These data driven insights were able to save the company money that otherwise would have resulted in lost revenue.
Insights should be closely linked with your business goals and strategic initiatives. Data combined with near real-time KPIs creates a sense of urgency that other forms of data don’t have. This data is easier to interpret and convert into insights that align with your strategy.
The data foundation is the most important component of a digital supply chain as it’s the first step towards digital success. Once you’ve mastered your data strategy, introducing supply chain analytics can provide additional support through a beneficial visualization tool. It allows you to transform that raw data into valuable insights, providing an additional layer of visibility into your supply chain. The final step is determining how those analytics translate into actionable insights that align with your business goals and objectives.
Organizations are data rich but insight poor. Now, supply chain professionals have the tools to enhance their data and drive more valuable, actionable insights to achieve higher supply chain performance for themselves and their organization.
We help companies through their digitalization journey by cleaning up their data, providing data analytics power by near real-time KPIs and additional support from experts that have worked in the supply chain field for over a decade.
Are you doing these 4 steps to improve your supply chain data quality? Access the 4 steps here.
Or, if you are interested in learning more about supply chain analytics, check out our YouTube channel here.