Improving Supply Chain Collaboration: Connecting Data

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Welcome to the first blog post in our three-part series discussing three ways to improve supply chain collaboration.

Maybe I’m stating the obvious but… a lot has changed in the world of manufacturing since Keith Oliver of Booz, Allen and Hamilton Inc. coined the term “supply chain management” in early 1982. Move over, 1982, it’s 2016. It’s no surprise that today’s supply chains are more complex than those of three decades ago. They face ever-growing volatility, uncertainty and risk. Lack of visibility and collaboration in supply chain management is dramatically impacting the time it takes to make critical decisions. And, in the end, sometimes those decisions end up being wrong ones. Making informed decisions fast comes down to collaboration – how effectively the data, processes and people who oversee the supply chain can connect, communicate and interact with one another. But, for many organizations, there’s a distinct disconnect between data, processes and people that is preventing collaboration. What’s inhibiting collaboration and, more importantly, what can be done to fix what ails? You’ll find the answers in the new eBook, 3 Ways to Improve Supply Chain Collaboration. The book looks at how companies can foster ongoing supply chain collaboration by eliminating the disconnects between data, processes and people. Let’s zero in on the first of the “disconnects” explored in the eBook – data.

The challenge: Disconnected data

Today’s supply functions and processes are siloed, making data extraction, capture and analysis siloed, as well. Often, departments take a vertical approach to reporting, whereby individual, functional metrics are tracked, instead of taking a horizontal view that gives insight into the health of the supply chain network and interdependencies of the individual functions. Faced with multiple ERPs, modules, Excel spreadsheets and data warehouses around the globe, these organizations have a significant challenge – they have more data in more places than ever before, making end-to-end visibility of the supply chain impossible. Most systems don’t have the required analytical capabilities in one place, which has only solidified some companies’ reliance on Excel spreadsheets. In this manual approach, stakeholders are forced to make decisions based on stale data that could be days or even weeks old.

The solution: A single place for data

Rather than spending time collecting and consolidating data in spreadsheets that will quickly be out of sync with their system of record, stakeholders can get straight to the business of collaboratively planning and responding to supply chain demands. They can do this by implementing cloud-based technology that combines real-time data streaming and historical data to transcend the different behaviors of each system or data source. Global professional services company Accenture underscores the importance of this approach: “With the amount of data required for analytics ballooning,” Accenture says, “Companies need to perform calculations on the data, create and execute simulation models, and compare data statistics faster than ever.”[1] Get the full story on how to improve supply chain collaboration by downloading the eBook. Plus, stay tuned for upcoming posts on the remaining two disconnects inhibiting collaboration in supply chain management: processes and people. [1] Data Acceleration: Architecture for the Modern Data Supply Chain, Accenture 2014

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