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Analytics drives informed Supply Chain decisions.

Data-informed decision-making helps business make smarter decisions. The whole analytics industry is teaching us that. But you’ve got to have the right data collected to make a smarter decision.  Often, business decisions are made using  stale or bad data. There are a variety of reasons: data collection is too complex, costly, and just impractical.

When you’re thinking about improving your systems, give some thought to collecting new data. Your current system could be based on old data. Mobile and RFID technologies are making it easier to collect data. Consequently, businesses are collecting more real-time data and experimenting with what data to collect. They are driving efficiencies into their supply chain as a result. When collecting data to improve your supply chain, consider the following:

  1. Push data collection as close to the point of sale as possible. If you are setting up a supply chain that serves customers, collecting and reporting data as close to the point of sale as possible is the best. Making service decisions on data that is almost current simply means that you will be almost accurate. It won’t help your technicians nor your customers if you were almost able to complete the service. It will drive up your costs to provide your service.
  2. Make sure that your data collection is “two-way”. When you are delivering product or services to a customer, it is easy to think about decrementing your supply on hand. You’ll be MOST effective if you collect data that could increment your supply on hand. For example, if you update customer asset listings and implementation information, your customer intelligence will be accurate and enable more efficient service when the customer calls in the next time. If you’ve replaced hardware, or used less cable than estimated by the job, you can update your supply chain with the product that re-enters your supply. This two-way update – identifying what was delivered/used in addition to what was re-claimed — keeps your supply chain current, and enables you to leverage resources that enter your supply chain from manufacturers and the grey-market.
  3. Provide Real-time access to data. Gone are the days of summarizing data nightly. Real-time access to data empowers your employees to resolve issues in real-time. That is what every customer and every business wants. The internet makes this possible. Your business will hum at internet speed if you attach that technology to technicians and service vehicles to provide real-time data. Reduce re-scheduling due to stocking errors. Provide an accurate delivery window. Your customers will appreciate it.
  4. Integrate office processes with delivery vehicles. RFID technology can turn any container into a bean counter. Make your service vehicle count supplies and inventory taken off the truck and replaced on the truck. Keep track of the time-to-service your customers, and increase your technician’s productivity. You’ll free your employees to deliver service and product to your customers instead of manually filling out forms that the office uses to track equipment, supplies and inventory. If you can introduce an automated count of supplies on truck, that can not only decrement on delivery, but increment on delivery also, your office processes (billing, scheduling, stocking) can execute at the moment of delivery, rather than waiting for data to be captured and input at the office.
  5. Don’t Ignore Social Signs. Social collaboration across the enterprise, it’s customers and suppliers allows organizations to quickly share the right metrics, identify issues before they escalate and seize new opportunities. Social signals can not be ignored. Information from sources like Twitter, Yammer and Chatter can be useful to stay in front of change customer preferences.

In the end, you’ll simply have more time to deliver your product and support your employees!

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