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Business Intelligence in your Supply Chain: 3 crucial points to fully capitalize your data

Going live with a supply chain solution (WMS, TMS, Omni-channel, etc.) reaps massive benefits in streamlining your processes and managing your business. It also gives you the possibility to gather an immense amount of data. Business Intelligence turns this data into meaningful information which can be used to provide insight in your operation, analyse processes and increase supply chain performance. This article explains three crucial points to fully capitalize your data by using Business Intelligence.


1. Establish a Business Intelligence Strategy

Business Intelligence is not a once-off exercise. It is a dynamic engine that has the capability to direct decisions that move your business forward. Use the following tips to establish an effective BI Strategy:

  1. Identify your stakeholders
  2. The business owns BI, IT facilitates BI
  3. Business objectives are the starting point, data is the input
  4. Keep validating and adjust where necessary
  5. Provide the right infrastructure for BI orchestration

A Business Intelligence strategy is not set in stone and evolves together with your business. Assemble a cross-functional BI team that is responsible for the implementation of your strategy.

2. Select the right tools and methods

Business Intelligence tools are available in abundance, so how do you know which one to choose? Most supply chain solutions are directly integrated with a standard set of BI tools. These tools typically fall into one of the following three categories:

1. Reporting. BI reports provide much more detail and dynamic compared to traditional reporting. Data is translated into usable information and provides details in formats from scorecards to one-page summaries, and from list views to charts. Examples:

  • Supplier on-time delivery performance
  • Average carton fill rate per week
  • Indirect vs. direct labour hours spent

2. Dashboards. For a more visual and real-time display of data, supply chain dashboards can be used. Dashboards provide a quick overview of the operation and help managers to support the process inside or outside the warehouse. To display different types of information in one view, different dashboard tiles can be put together. Examples:

  • Receiving floor space utilization
  • Pending cycle counts per aisle
  • Number of active users per zone

3. Benchmarks. To compare data and get a more complete picture of the current performance, benchmarks can be used. Supply Chain Junction uses the WERC (Warehouse Education and Research Council) standards to determine together with our partners how we can reach the next level in supply chain performance.

3. Consider your end goal and end user

The strength of Business Intelligence is that it offers innumerable possibilities to extract, display and analyse data. This is also a risk. It is very easy to lose track of what you are actually trying to achieve. Overpopulated dashboards and reports with irrelevant details are common mistakes that could negatively impact the power of BI.

The objective is to keep BI accessible and approachable; this powerful concept is known as self-service business intelligence. It is essential that the end-user knows where to find and how to use BI. Involve your staff and educate them to understand what the data is telling you. To stimulate involvement, it is key to keep it simple. Stick to relevant KPI’s and metrics within the context and try to adhere to a consistent colour scheme when visualising data.
Get in touch to learn more about our Business Intelligence best practices and success stories.


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