How To Harness Supply Chain Data For Process Optimization

Supply Chain Data Mapped Over Delivery Vehicles - Cedric Millar Supply Chain Logistics Company

Not very long ago, companies relied on spreadsheets and shared drives to exchange information about how their supply chain is operating. With so many moving parts, keeping track of everything proved challenging, especially when it came to real-time visibility to identify what improvements were needed.

Fast forward to 2021, when supply chains are becoming synonymous with fast, efficient delivery to consumers who have developed high expectations. As a result, supply chains have become more complex, especially if you’re shipping across the border or around the world.

The importance of optimizing modern supply chains for reliability, efficiency, and scalability has never been greater. Using supply chain data to create functional and reliable analytics is imperative to achieving this aim.

Which Software Supplies Supply Chain Data?

Many companies with digitized supply chains use dedicated software suites that are fully integrated into their business processes. In most cases, different software is used to focus on the supply chain’s critical operational components under an integrated enterprise resource planning (ERP) system.

For example, warehouse management systems (WMS) provide insights into storage, picking, packing, and loading products for transportation. Conversely, transportation management systems (TMS) hone in on the supply chain’s delivery logistics in both directions.

Financial supply chain software tracks capital costs and identifies opportunities to increase working capital. Fleet and driver management apps and small package and courier shipping platforms provide the intelligence you need to make critical strategic decisions.

When looking for software recommendations, be sure that you can extract the data you need for your analytics models.

4 Types Of Supply Chain Analytics

There are generally four types of supply chain analytics models, framed on Gartner’s analytics ascendancy model:

  • Descriptive analytics use a set of statistical methods to help measure and report on what has already happened, useful for measuring profitability or tracking inventory levels
  • Diagnostic analytics identify why problems have happened or why something isn’t working as well as it should be, such as lost inventory, late shipments, or low inventory turnover
  • Predictive analytics helps you “see into the future” based on current data sets. This allows you to develop contingency plans that respond quickly and efficiently in the event of supply chain disruption
  • Prescriptive analytics use optimization or embedded decision logic to help determine the best course of action when making a strategic decision, such as whether to expand operations into another location 

The insights you glean from your analytics will bring you several transformative benefits, including:

  • Allows for complete visibility into your supply chain: Without complete real-time visibility into the current state of your supply chain, you and your provider won’t be able to detect, diagnose, and fix any problems, affecting your long-term efficiency and growth.

  • Make better strategic decisions: By continuously collecting, monitoring, and analyzing supply chain data, you’ll have ongoing information about your KPIs, potential development areas, and predictive outlook. This allows you to make key critical decisions, as well as quantify the impact of those decisions.
  • Allows you to scale properly: Whether you need to expand your supply chain during your busy periods or minimize process in the off-season, your analytics can help you make scaling decisions that will allow for smooth transitions.
  • Understand current and future risks: Analytics can help you identify current threats and predict potential future risks by spotting patterns and trends throughout the system, giving you opportunities to mitigate them and prevent service disruption.
  • Predict product demand: Track product demand and profitability to help determine procurement cycles and better understand what your customers will need after the initial purchase.
  • Helps determine your market position: Use analytics to benchmark rates, so you always know exactly where you stand in the market.

Using Operational Intelligence To Develop Analytics

Data alone is simply a set of facts without meaning- the numbers do not tell the whole story. In order to get the most impact out of your data, you need humans with operational supply chain expertise to create the different types of analytics you need.

Partnering with a 4PL supplier can help you make sense of your supply chain analytics. They specialize in pulling data together from different software, infrastructure, and 3rd-party sources to improve decision-making across your supply chain’s tactical, operational, and strategic processes.

4PL suppliers consider your business’s most important aspects, including cash flow, inventory management, waste control, customer service, and building correlations between them and data elements. The results are predictive models that optimize your supply chain for today and long into the future. 

Best of all, having an experienced 4PL supplier in your corner allows you to concentrate on other business challenges, with the peace of mind knowing that your products will get to market under virtually any circumstances.

If you’re interested in learning how Cedric Millar can significantly transform your current supply chain into a more sustainable, flexible model, we’d love to chat with you. Just contact us at 1-888-998-1009 or via email at anytime for a no-obligation discussion.


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