How to enhance Supply Chain Activities with business intelligence

Supply Chain business intelligence

The advantages of business intelligence (BI) are endless and you will have to go a long way to find an industry where the advantages don’t outnumber the disadvantages.

The most notable advantages are the software’s capability and feature rich technology, features that provide organisations with so much more than just a reporting tool.

A majority of organisations implement BI to improve efficiency, decision-making and assisting in identifying new and key opportunities. BI presents benefits across the entire business spectrum but one area where it can play a significant role is in the supply chain management environment.

Supply chain management is complex as it contains so many different internal processes and activities. Some of these activities are managed internally whilst others are managed by external entities, for example, logistics, transportation and distribution.

These activities in return can operate and be managed by individual entities or in some kind of combination within 3PL or 4PL organisations.

No matter how these activities fit in, there is a specific need for real-time information sharing as to ensure a coordinated and seamless supply chain. It is here where BI can play a significant role.

We can write pages and pages about the supply chain and its complexity and how BI can reduce the complexity.

So let’s instead concentrate on 3PL/4PL organisations to provide some idea how BI can play a role towards improvement.

A key feature is the ability of BI applications to predict future behaviour based on historical and current trends. This is an important feature that allows organisations to forward plan.

By forward planning organisations are able to implement proactive strategies and with it strict mitigating controls in order to minimise or eliminate reactive approach/responses to address incidents in future.

Being proactive also leads to and ensures a quick and positive time-to-value partnership between the organisation, its suppliers and its customers.

Another feature, the ability to drill down into massive amounts of data with real-time data allows, in this example 3PL/4PL professionals, to analyse critical aspects like load quantities, routes, transporter performance, scheduling, delivery and delay times, audits and payments at any given time or place.

This is a powerful feature, which allows a user to drill from millions of bits of data into possibly one single bit of information rapidly and in real-time. Timing is key and this is a very important feature that allows business to identify, understand and address weaknesses or strengths quickly and efficiently.

Other benefits include the identification of delivery issues at any point in the supply chain, a better understanding of cost impact across the supply chain Vendor performance analysis, work load distribution can be evaluated, better risk mitigation as incidents that impact on service delivery and efficient utilisation can be visualised, and further insight into which aspects generate profit and which cost the operation money.

The benefits don’t end here. BI also permits an in-depth analysis of end-to-end supply chain networks and measures, for example, supplier performance.

The performance of suppliers the supply chain can be evaluated in line with their service level agreements. Understanding the performance levels now allows the user to identify new opportunities, and to negotiate and create agreements based on factual performance results.

The supply chain industry is a fast moving industry that is continuously evolving and seeking ways to improve its existing business models. Being a part of this industry forces all organisations, not just 3PL/4PL organisations, to adapt and improve rapidly and continuously in order to remain competitive. It is here where BI is ideal to help organisations maintain and achieve its objectives in a fast moving and evolving industry.

BI presents many other advantages to organisations and is something that most organisations should consider moving forward.

However, It is important to understand that thinking about and implementing BI in any organisation is just the first step in the process. Making it a crucial part of the organisational decision making process is the real challenge.

As with anything in business, top management buy in, clearly formulated business objectives, and integration with other software solutions are key to making BI work.