Key Ways To Analyze Your Supply Chain Data

Kevin Gardner

Analyzing supply chain data can give your business valuable insight. You can better plan for capacity, reduce redundancy and risk, and track down costly issues.

Define business priorities

As you plan how to analyze data, it’s important to define business goals and priorities. Where are the critical areas where more information is needed? Who needs it and what are the key performance indicators (KPIs) they want to evaluate? How often do people need to receive updates? Outlining the most important areas for improving processes, controlling costs, and solving problems can help you focus your research efforts.

Map out data sources

It’s important to know how all the data sources flow through your supply chain from conception to delivery. How do the different departments as well as trading partners trace your corporation’s assets? Do all stakeholders use the same terminology and tracking methods? Do some departments or divisions use different databases? Do some areas still need to be digitized to provide the right details? How will your company secure data throughout the process?

Collect comprehensive information

Study all areas of operation, ranging from sourcing, to manufacturing, to delivery, to assess where information can be tracked. Talk to stakeholders to learn more about how their information is being tracked and where failures are occurring or costs are hard to control. Are medical devices, for example, sometimes hard to locate in the hospital? Consider where your corporation can benefit from additional digitized information and geolocation data. If needed, get representatives from different divisions together to assess all the ways information is tracked and how you can build a more robust data model.

Align data where possible

Reference information can be analyzed more efficiently if it is standardized and adheres to global conventions. If departments use different methods for capturing details, reporting is more difficult. There’s also a greater risk of getting an incomplete picture or multiple versions of the truth, such as reports that conflict or overlap with each other. You may want to consult with an industry expert to ensure your processes are optimized for global standards. If your data is not following all standards, it can cause costly delays, rejections, or international regulatory challenges.

Consider Global Location Number implementation. GLN is a global standard for referring to locations and groups within an organization. A location can be a physical place, like a hospital wing, or a digital location, such as an enterprise resource planning (ERP) system. A group can be a legal entity, like a company or subsidiary, or a functional entity, such as a purchasing department.

Explore whether your corporation can benefit from streamlining its operations, such as bulk orders across divisions and departments. Some divisions might be paying more than others for specific supplies, or your corporation might receive a volume discount if you can group your procurement items. Examine costs throughout the year and see if there are seasonal surges and explore adjusting procurement to avoid unexpected changes in cost. Research whether having different tools and supplies is causing additional delays or incurring more costs as a product passes from one division to another.

Build a cohesive picture

Make sure you are collecting actionable data. Consult with managers to verify that the right questions are getting answered. Assess the best ways to report the data, such as performance dashboards, supplier scorecards, and materials-management reports so that decision-makers can respond effectively. Determine any alerts, such as demand surges or quality problems, that are needed and who needs to receive them. Build in time and checkpoints into your process to adjust your data-gathering and reporting as needed.

Supply chain management is a substantive area of expense, and performing an effective analysis can provide a significant return on investment. Whether it’s procuring supplies efficiently or tracking down quality issues, the right data can make your supply chain more efficient and effective.

Learn how to satisfy growing demand with SAP Integrated Business Planning for Supply Chain. Register for the Webinar.

Kevin Gardner

About Kevin Gardner

Kevin Gardner loves everything and anything business and enjoys writing about his experiences in order to help others succeed in their own endeavors. Kevin also enjoys rock climbing and watching soccer. You can follow Kevin at @kevgardner83.