In most companies, the supply chain is viewed as a mission-critical system. In the very best performing companies, the supply chain is seen as a strategic weapon with which to club the competition and drive shareholder value. As we continue to move out of the global recession and looking to improve our operations, companies should be asking: Are we getting all the necessary intelligence from our supply chain system to make the best decisions for our business?
There are many individual things you need to do well in order for your supply chain to become a competitive weapon. But, in the end, they all boil down to combining "information" (the communications or receptions of knowledge) and "intelligence" (the ability to apply knowledge to manipulate one's environment as measured by objective criteria). This combination is what is commonly referred to as supply chain intelligence. Supply chain professionals can leverage the power of this insight to unlock information they previously could not access, giving their companies a tremendous competitive advantage.
Companies' supply chain systems create an impressive amount of data. However, there's not any value in loads of data if you can't access it or understand it. The biggest obstacle in managing this amount of data involves identifying the information that matters and then seeing that the same meaningful information gets to all the individuals who need it to make the best decisions for your company.
Some of the more common challenges that companies face when it comes to business intelligence for the supply chain are:
Supply chain intelligence is all about bringing together content and capabilities. "Content" is all of the data held in various data structures and the various pre-defined reports or views over that data. "Capabilities" include all of the tools that allow users to access the data and create new ways of accessing it (i.e. new "content").
Examples of content include:
The key with data is organising it into subject matter areas familiar to supply chain users. There are two important types of data within each of these subject matter areas. The first is measures/KPIs that represent the actual business performance. The second is the dimensions of analysis-the ways the measures/KPIs can be analysed (i.e. by item, by supplier, by location, by product class, etc.)
On the other hand, capabilities are organised into three layers within a fully functional architecture in a supply chain intelligence solution:
Examples of major capabilities within a comprehensive supply chain intelligence system include:
In order to create a broad vision that both maximises value for your company as well as makes that value achievable, supply chain intelligence should ideally be:
Business intelligence is the ultimate tool for supply chain analysis because, when used appropriately, it can significantly impact the activities that directly affect costs, customer service and productivity. Proactive companies that implement a supply chain business intelligence system can expect to benefit with the new-found ability to:
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