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Improve productivity with Supply Chain Analytics

  • 12-13 min read
  • July 19, 2021
  • 👍 Rating — 5 (3 votes)

Supply chain is a crucial business industry that faces numerous challenges daily. Business owners who are involved in the supply chain are dealing with goods storing issues, inventory and delivery management and tracking, logistics and customer service problems, and many more. And it is impossible to imagine how to overcome all these challenges without software that performs numerous tasks, optimizes many processes and unloads the employees. 

When it comes to the digitalization of business, management tools considered to be very important, but we can say that analytics means no less. So let’s discover what supply chain analytics does, how it works and how to implement it into your business. We will also provide you the examples of some popular ready-made solutions and discuss whether they are really good for your business.

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Related Topic
We have already covered the topic of digital optimization for more effective supply chain management. If you want to discover all benefits of custom software, then we’d recommend you to take a look at our post, because this article will touch on another crucial topic.

What is Supply Chain Analytics? 

analytics for supply chain

Supply chain analytics is a smart solution that is implemented into your business with the purpose of improving the services, developing more data-driven strategy, reducing operational costs, and making all supply chain processes more productive.

To emphasize the necessity and importance of supply chain analytics we’d like to point out some major challenges that it can help to overcome. So here is what this smart software can do for your business:

  • Establish synchronization between your planning and real actions.
  • Provide real-time analytics which helps to understand what your actual performance is.
  • Help to better control your inventory and notice timely when you’re out of stock or have an excess of goods that are not selling. 
  • Make your company more flexible and profitable thanks to up-to-date reports that can uncover key productivity issues and let you fix them before they are too global.
  • Improve forecasting accuracy thanks to holistic analysis of your inventory and sales. 
  • Optimize freight and logistics by improving loading and routing which also leads to better customer service and faster delivery. 

Supply chain has always been related to mass data storage and generation and thanks to supply chain analytics it becomes possible to make sense of all that data and provide comprehensive reports. Supply chain analytics is a holistic business management tool able to uncover certain information patterns and generate insights that can influence your business decisions. It can be said that supply chain analytics has certain cognitive abilities that are powered by artificial intelligence (AI). So thanks to AI this software can perform analytics of the following 4 types:


Cognitive
Supply chain analytics can answer complex questions and provide suggestions regarding company and processes optimization which makes it a smart tool.
Predictive
It can create possible scenarios, understand their outcomes and provide you with more or less correct productivity forecast. Thanks to this type of analytics you can mitigate various shipment, buying and selling risks, and also avoid waste of costs and time. The main advantage of predictive analytics is that it does not deal with the past, it rather projects the possible scenarios that can happen to your company.
Descriptive
Supply chain analytics collects the data and provides a united report that can be used by both internal and external company systems. Thanks to those metrics you will be able to measure inventory turnover, wastage, orders accuracy, percentage of delivered orders, etc.
Prescriptive
It makes cooperation between several supply chains and logistics partners easier thanks to holistic reporting and real-time data exchange. Also it can create complex scenarios to help you make optimal and reasonable supply chain decisions based on real  facts and numbers.
Diagnostic
This type of analytics lets you take a look at the insights explaining why your targets turned out to be missed. So basically it identifies the reasons that led to poor performance of your supply chain and you can take actions and fix them.

You may be wondering whether your company really needs this software, because there are numerous other tools like CRM, ERP and EDI systems. That is a reasonable thought and we will explain why exactly supply chain analytics is so important. As we’ve already said, the supply chain is related to loads of data that is always accumulated somewhere. 

However, one of the latest researches states that even if your company possesses a lot of internal data, you are likely to process and analyze only a quarter of it all if you do not have a special analyzing system. Which means that too many crucial figures and indexes get lost and are not being taken into account when you perform planning, forecasting and identification of your real performance rate. You may use the most effective CRMs and ERPs but if you do not have a supply chain analyzer, you will end up having inaccurate information related to your business. And that lack of knowledge may cost you a lot of money (that initially can be saved and invested into your company growth). That is why supply chain analytics is a must for any company!

Also speaking about supply chain analytics it is crucial to mention that it usually includes several visibility analytical indicators related to different stages of supply chain:

  • Supply chain itself;
  • Exception;
  • Procurement;
  • Manufacturing;
  • Transportation;
  • Fulfillment.

By monitoring each of those indicators carefully you may get a full picture of how your business is really doing, and what can be improved to make it even more effective on each stage. That is exactly what makes supply chain analytics a must have tool.

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What features any Supply Chain Analytics should have

Before you consider developing your own custom supply chain analytics tool, you need to collect information regarding the most crucial features that this software should have. Of course, more custom options can be incorporated into your system (depending on your particular business goals) but some basic features are mandatory. And here they are: 


Connectivity
If you want to get a clear and holistic report about your company and how it is doing in terms of productivity, then your supply chain analytics should be easily connected to your existing corporate programs. Whatever technology is used in your company (IoT, ERP, B2B management tools, etc.), your new analyzing tool should be able to access all the data.
Cognitive abilities
AI powered solutions are trendy right now and it is for a reason. Artificial intelligence platforms help to automate reporting, eliminate human errors, coordinate and guide corporate decision making processes, and synchronize all actions within your supply chain or several chains that cooperate with each other.
Security
Needless to say that cybersecurity means a lot these days. The consequences of data breach and cyberattacks can be too serious. After all you are dealing with huge loads of corporate data related to your finance, employees and business partners. And that information should never get to the hands of hackers. So it is preferable to establish different levels of security and authentication to avoid all possible issues.
Accessibility
It is preferable to make your solution cloud-based because it will be easier to access it from any device anytime. Why is it so important? Simply because it will make cooperation between the supply chain departments easier and it will let you exchange the data with the partners easier and more effectively. This will help you to establish multi-enterprise collaboration and improve the engagement level.
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Are there any ready-made solutions?

Before sharing with you the brightest examples of ready-made supply chain analytics systems, we’d like to emphasize that whatever solution you will select – you will have to adjust your business to use it. Why is that so? Simply because ready-made solutions are not flexible enough to fit into your particular business processes. They seem universal tools, but they may not be suitable for your working processes. So keep that in mind and better invest in custom solution made specifically for you business taking its needs and requirements into account. Custom approach always brings better results.

Blue Ridge Supply Chain Analytics

This is a well known cloud solution that offers a range of reporting and analytical tools to get the most up-to-date insights related to your supply chain, warehousing and customers’ demand. Thanks to this solution companies can focus more on the real indexes related to their performance and understand what can be adjusted to reach better performance rate and income. It also helps to automate communication of reports, insights and dashboards to get the fullest picture of company work.

Qlik Supply Chain Analytics

Qlik if a solution which main goal is to help companies make data driven decisions based on real productivity indexes. This software lets you explore all factors that are influencing the productivity of your business, check in real time availability of products or place in inventory, manage supply chain from end to end connecting all processes, simplify analytics and make the received indexes and numbers understandable.

Main advantages of Supply Chain Analytics 

The development of a smart supply chain analytics software is quite costly, because it is based on advanced technologies and has to be easily integrated into your business environment, however this solution is worth every dollar you spend on it. It offers numerous benefits that can really turn your supply chain to a whole new level. 

Let’s take a closer look at the main advantages that supply chain analytics offers and maybe some of them will be a decision making point for you.

It helps to achieve revenue growth

A couple of years ago Gartner performed a survey in which they asked what is the top priority of companies. And 54% answered that it is business growth. Also when company owners were asked about the ROI, 29% answered that they achieved a much higher level of it by using analytic tools. Therefore it turned out that analytics is a crucial instrument that a company owner should definitely invest in to stay competitive and more productive. Analytics allows us to evaluate the whole picture of the company, control potential losses, and eliminate supply chain inefficiencies on time. 

By excluding all unnecessary costs and improving planning, the company can become more profitable. It is even possible to monitor sales efficiency and prognose what income your supply chain will get by the end of a certain period. 

Your business will have better margin

With the supply chain analytics you will be able to analyze all your company costs starting with the shipment and delivery and ending with network. The holistic analysis allows you to evaluate market dynamics, predict all possible upcoming changes, understand what processes should be improved and which costs can be reduced. 

What does this lead to? First of all it leads to more smart buying decisions and as the result to a better margin of your business. If your company gets more revenue, then you can achieve more growth opportunities and partner up with more businesses. 

You will improve warehousing and storage efficiency

While many goods may require special storage conditions, others may be special themselves. The goods can be fragile, have high weight or unusual shape. And you have to store them carefully to deliver them in their best possible condition to your customers. You may be wondering how exactly supply chain analytics can help you on the warehousing stage. And we will explain it right away. Thanks to this tool you can get info about storage space, shelves weight, temperature, picking accuracy, overall warehouse performance. And you will also be able to minimize the number of goods accidents when they are placed not on the right place and get damaged or improperly stored.

You will achieve better customer loyalty

Supply chain is a complex business niche that requires collection of data on different levels starting with warehousing and transportation and ending with feedbacks from real customers. And while it is quite easy to collect all that data, often the companies do not have tight tools to analyze it properly and use the collected data to their advantage. With supply chain analytics you will understand better what is in demand, what issues your supply chain has that prevent customers from being 100% satisfied with your company services.

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Successful example
Amazon is one of the most successful e-commerce companies that implemented advanced analytical tools to improve its productivity. Amazon uses Big Data and Artificial Intelligence to collect and process information related to customers. And this helps to understand their needs and demand better. Also thanks to the analytical tools Amazon offers more relevant suggestions to the customers while they are shopping. On top of that, analytics helps this company to shape its marketing strategies and make the very effective. For example, their recommendations bring almost 35% of annual sales. And their operational costs reduced by 40% thanks to presence of analytical tools.
Supply chain analytics is a system that is responsible for work with huge loads of data related to customers, deliveries, orders and many more. Thanks to this business management tool it is possible to collect, analyze and process all that information with the purpose to improve customer service and business productivity.
Some ready-made solutions may have compatibility issues if you try to connect them with ERP or CRM that is used in your company However, custom made supply chain analytics will be easily integrated since it is created for your particular company taking its needs and existing tools into account.
This software can be powered by different technologies depending on your business needs and company size. But mostly supply chain analytics is powered by Big Data, Artificial Intelligence, and Machine Learning.

To sum it up

Smart solutions are crucial for any business and supply chain is not an exception. Dealing with huge loads of information and numerous performance challenges daily, it is too risky to rely on approximate analytics. What every supply chain needs these days is reliable software able to process a lot of data and provide comprehensible reports and forecasts based on real figures. And that is exactly what supply chain analytics is for. 

This is a costly solution, however it can easily pay itself off and help to boost your business by making it more profitable. There is no need to spend costs unwisely if you can make all processes more effective and keep the future of your business under control. 

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Creator

I am mainly focused on enterprise mobility (Apple, Android), and digital transformation, highly curious about all emerging tech trends, always pay close attention to crucial details and try to find answers to a lot of questions before writing about something.
Alexandra Rostovtseva

Expert

Being a proficient leader with over 10 years of experience in Project and Product Management, Business Development and Sales, I have strong skills in Negotiations, Crisis, Client and Risk management. Being an outstanding communicator I’m also a good mentor and leader in the tech industry. Experience and expertise are the key foundations in my ability to provide deep insights into the industry and as result I’ve also been published or was a contributor to several tech and business articles.
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