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The Benefits of Supply Chain Analytics

Michael Chen
Senior Manager

In a world filled with global manufacturing and shipping, an organization’s supply chain is both its lifeblood and its biggest hurdle. So many variables seem independent of each other due to the fact that they live in separate organizations. However, everything within the supply chain is connected, and a single hiccup or incident can create a ripple effect that potentially derails critical manufacturing or fulfillment needs. And in today’s age of instant communication and feedback, a minor setback at the beginning of the process can lead to difficulty with customer retention one year later.

Twenty years ago, this was a necessary evil for organizations. Today, there’s a solution: analytics for supply chain management.

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The Modern Capabilities of Analytics

Traditional methods of supply chain management limited each element to its own organizational tracking. This created a manual need for updating status and communicating it with other departments. While passable, an underlying issue lingered with this method: no matter how quickly messages get sent, a gap exists due to the manual labor involved. That represented a best-case scenario, but things get worse when manual data entry is involved with either the initial intake from sources or when transferring and consolidating big data between organizations. A single copy/paste error can throw off entire datasets.

Fortunately, modern technology has the means of bringing all supply chain data together while providing the tools to harness those massive volumes of data into innovative ways that optimize your organization.

Cloud-based analytics offers a solution that can change the way organizations handle supply chain management. By taking data to the cloud, metrics can be unified and based on single sources of truth that update in real time. And with this volume of data, in-depth analytics can be utilized to provide insights that optimize the supply chain, including:

  • Real-time alerts of gaps and issues
  • Weeding out vendors with consistent shipping/timing issues
  • Identifying materials with consistent quality issues
  • Removing low-reward or unnecessary steps in the process

Each Part of the Supply Chain

Let’s take a closer look at individual parts of the supply chain process to see how cloud-based analytics optimizes management.

Sourcing: Consider how many vendors you use as part of the sourcing process. Then consider how many orders are made, and how many individual items are in that order, and how each of those are shipped. That doesn’t even include variables such as emergency orders, damaged materials, and other unpredictable elements. By connecting all status and pricing data from your vendors across the globe, the sourcing process becomes simplified and optimized, allowing you to identify long-lead items, gaps, and hurdles while maximizing budgets.

Shipping: Modern shipping processes mean that package status gets updated multiple times a day. When it comes to procurement, that means hundreds, possibly thousands of packages for an organization. Putting all of that tracking information into a centralized database allows for easy one-touch access to an item’s current status, including the ability to flag delays and late shipments to stop problems before they start.

Manufacturing: The manufacturing process benefits from unified data and analytics in many different ways. Which steps create the most waste? Which steps generate the most errors? How long do tools and machinery last before they need maintenance or require replacement? All of these elements can be examined with quantifiable data, allowing for a comprehensive workflow analysis that streamlines and optimizes the entire manufacturing process.

Fulfillment: Fulfillment analytics can do wonders in terms of maximizing revenue and retaining customers. The metrics involved with this look both at customer fulfillment and the warehouse itself, creating a comprehensive view to make sure final steps complete as smoothly and efficiently as possible. For customers, are they receiving packages by the expected date (or earlier)? For the shipping process, is any particular vendor or region consistently delivering late? For warehouses, is inventory stored in the most efficient manner and are processes seeing any trends in accidents or injuries?

Each of these phases benefits within their own department from the integration of analytics and unified data in the cloud. Now, take a step back and look at an even bigger picture—putting all of that data, from sourcing to warehouse management, into a consolidated database. What insights can be determined from that?

If these departments remain in silos, consider the lack of overall transparency. In that situation, any sourcing delays from shortages might have a significant impact on the manufacturing process by holding up a product’s critical path. However, the visibility of that impact will have to be manually put together and communicated. Without a single source of truth and a powerful analytics tool to identify and flag these types of issues, the supply chain will remain an obstacle rather than an asset.

Are your supply chains as optimized as they can be? What are the hidden gaps that hinder—or even break—your supply chain, and how can you build safety nets to handle that? Analytics for supply chains provides all of the functions necessary for these insights and more—if you use the correct tool. To learn more, check out how Oracle Analytics compares to the competition and to learn how you can benefit from Oracle Analytics, visit Oracle.com/analytics or follow us on Twitter @OracleAnalytics..

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