Latest Posts

Is That Dashboard Really a Dashboard?

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DashboardIf your dashboard tells you that sales are down, but not why they’re down, do you really have a dashboard?

Simply stated, the answer is NO.  A dashboard that shows key performance indicators or a list of metrics – but doesn’t provide the details to help you determine why those metrics are up or down – is not a dashboard (or at least, not an effective dashboard).

An effective dashboard should show you key performance metrics, provide comparisons to prior time periods and expected values, and then offer up further information that can help you explain performance variances.  Some people may feel that’s too much information – we prefer charts that “pop” and animated gauges, right?  Yes, dashboards must be easy to read – and good design is a must.  But combine this with information that actually solves the business problem – like how do I improve sales – and your users will embrace them. View Article…

Using the Right Tools in the Demand Planning Process

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Demand PlanningDemand planning in the intelligent enterprise requires the “right tool for the right job.” Arguably the most over used tool is the spreadsheet for many good reasons – availability, ease of use and user experience to name a few.  Of course the downside is well documented – loss of control, multiple versions of the truth, and the eventual overwhelming nature of large data sets that characterize detailed demand planning processes.

On the other side of the argument is the important requirements of demand planning tools such as an infrastructure that provides a persistent system of record for pre- and post-forecast analysis, a robust time series forecast engine that’s automated and easy to use, and a collaboration platform for refining the forecast results.  Let’s look at each characteristic in more detail. View Article…

Creating a More Collaborative Supply Chain

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Creating a More Collaborative Supply ChainNew sales channels powered by the Internet, build-to-order scenarios, increased competition and more demanding customers are changing the face of manufacturing. To sync up with these changes, traditional supply chains are evolving into “value chains” that truly share and integrate information.

According to Gartner, collaboration between vendors and suppliers ultimately increases value to customers and “to provide profitable commitments, each enterprise in the demand chain must increase the level of information it share with the others.” Manufacturers must adopt a collaborative business model to anticipate the changes that occurs both upstream and downstream in their supply chain.

Given the rising collaborative nature of supply chains, especially as any manufacturers work with dozens of vendors and suppliers, sharing and integrating information is no longer optional – it’s essential.  Manufacturers need to have the ability to collaborate with every member of their supply chain, and they must have the analytics needed to assist them in being as competitive as possible.  In order to truly collaborate with their supplier and vendors, manufacturers need to be able to share information down and across the entire supply chain at a moment’s notice.   View Article…

Why Do So Many BI Initiatives Fail?

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Sucess FailureThe benefits of a successful business intelligence initiative are hard to ignore. Collecting and organizing data from multiple sources and presenting insightful analytics help drive a more intelligent enterprise and make businesses more competitive in an increasingly crowded market. But according to Dresner Advisory Services (DAS) Wisdom of Crowds Business Intelligence Market Study, 59% of BI projects aren’t successful. And fewer than 30% of business intelligence projects meet the objectives of the business, according to research from analyst Gartner. Why are so many BI initiatives failing to take hold in enterprises? View Article…

Using Business Intelligence Software to Improve Inventory Levels

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inventory balanceA significant cost to many manufacturing and distribution organizations is the inventory they have to carry in order to support customers and sales. This inventory can easily represent 40-50% of a company’s capital investments. Right-sizing inventory gives companies the ability to increase their “return on inventory investment” without compromising service levels. After all, cutting corners that impact your customers, such as cutting inventory to cut costs which leads to shipment delays, causes more problems for the company in the long run. View Article…

The Successful BI Project – Start Small … Think BIG

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BigSmallEmbarking on a Business Intelligence project can be intimidating. 

For many organizations, it’s new territory – a major step beyond simple reporting.  A BI project shares many of the same characteristics as more traditional I.T. projects.  However, there are aspects of the BI project that can be leveraged to help make the process and deployment a success.

View Article…

Stratum.Server: DALOAD & GISLSDRV

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Stratum Under CoversIn my previous posts, I covered the four main components of Stratum.  Now, it’s time to get a little more in-depth about each of them!

In this post, we’ll cover the Stratum.Server DALOAD process for IBMi and the equivalent GISLSDRV process for Windows.  View Article…

Mining the Manufacturer’s CRM

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Mining the Manufacturer’s CRMMany companies, but particularly manufacturers, are removed from their end-users because they sell through multiple third-party distributors and retailers. The complicated nature of their supply chain keeps them from directly interacting with their actual customers, making it harder to understand exactly what their customers want and need, as well as how they act. For these companies, customer relationship analysis can look at various data feeds and provide a valuable picture of customer trends that the manufacturer might have otherwise missed. View Article…

Rationalizing Supplier Relationships

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VendorAnalysisOrganizations today are spending as much as 60 percent of their revenue acquiring the goods and services needed to support their business. Such large procurement budgets and a reliance on numerous suppliers and hundreds to thousands of products can make business goals increasingly complex.

Ultimately, procurement executives may be charged with reducing the organization’s overall spend while simultaneously increasing the bottom line. To get there, purchasing professionals need a high-level strategic sourcing plan that lets them minimize supplier risk, create and maintain effective supplier relationships, monitor the quality of materials received from suppliers, and leverage supplier information to negotiate better contracts. View Article…

Importance of the Right Data in the Demand Planning Process

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ForecastingThe operational side on the intelligent enterprise is driven by Sales and Operations planning and in turn S&OP is driven by an accurate demand forecast.  While this is simply stated, it can be very challenging to consistently produce good forecasting results.  At the core of the challenge lies an important first step of harnessing the right data.  Many forecasting and planning projects are abandoned or considered failures due in part to data issues.  The right data input to the forecasting and planning process has several important dimensions that must be considered. View Article…