Business Intelligence Tools

Integrating business intelligence tools for smarter supply chains

It’s become something of a buzzword in supply chains: business intelligence tools, also known as BI. They have the potential to improve the supply chain’s overall efficiency, finding the flaws in operations and providing solutions to break down those barriers. Learn about how to use these tools for smarter supply chains.

What are Business Intelligence Tools?
Data is great, right? Organizations spend tons of time and money collecting all sorts of data. What does that data mean, though? That’s where business intelligence comes into play. Data alone isn’t all that helpful as it stands. You’ve got to make sense of that data, and these tools help do just that.

Business intelligence tools essentially turn data into information that can be leveraged to improve business. BI software can be used to analyze enormous amounts of data from complex organizations, producing answer to some of the trickiest questions to plague companies.

What Can BI Do for Supply Chains?

BI tools can help provide visibility, something many supply chains really struggle with. These software programs can:

  • Help pinpoint any sticking points in the supply chain
  • Analyze costs and areas where savings may be feasible
  • Assess the performance and costliness of carriers and suppliers
  • Track transportation costs
  • Report repair costs
  • Provide outlooks based on trends from the past
  • Aid in efficient ordering
  • Help mitigate risk due to economic factors, political issues, or natural phenomenon
  • Strategize with agility

Implementing BI
Here’s a quick step by step to implementing business intelligence tools in your supply chain:

  1. Introduce the idea within the company and put together a team to handle business intelligence solutions.
  2. Set your goals in relation to BI. What do you hope to gain? What would success look like?
  3. Choose your tools.
  4. Put pen to paper to develop a BI strategy.
  5. Set up tools, integrating with current systems as necessary to assure a steady stream of good data.
  6. Set up a user-friendly dashboard so that BI tools can be used effectively and efficiently and train key users.

What to Do If Your Company Doesn’t Have the Framework to Support BI
Doubting whether your company could effectively implement business intelligence tools? That’s where 3PL solutions come into play. Handing some or all of your logistics operations over to a 3PL provider with a great business intelligence protocol can mean improved efficiency and therefore savings.

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Independent research shows that improved supply chain management can yield:

  • 25 – 50% reduction in total supply chain costs
  • 25 – 60% reduction in inventory holding
  • 25 – 80% increase in forecast accuracy
  • 30 – 50% improvement in order-fulfillment cycle time
  • 20% increase in after-tax free cash flows
  • Supply Chain Mapping

  • Review Market Conditions

  • Determine Operational Inefficiencies

  • Outline Opportunities

  • Implement Changes

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