Why Have a Supply Chain Information Repository?

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SupplyChainDataBig data and corporate data warehouses have been expanding exponentially with information that’s not exactly a benefit to the operations and supply chain community. Supply chain management requires highly specialized integrated data not found in corporate data warehouses to support a fast-moving global supply network and a more demanding customer base. This data needs to be gathered from new sources, transformed and enriched to be useful to supply chain professionals. But unfortunately, that comes with challenges like these:

  • Understanding what underlying data is most important
  • How to extract, transform and integrate that data in a repository that’s optimized for retrieval and analysis of a specialized user
  • How to optimize the use of the data attributes and types with supply chain-specific applications and analytics without having to rely on IT
  • How to enrich the data by joining it together with other important data types. This requires a unique knowledge of the data, the repository structure and supply chain processes. Supply chain analytics software companies hopefully have industry experienced consultants to make this task more manageable.

A short list of data types that need to be joined and enriched are:

  • Supplier delivery performance joined to end item sales codes
  • Product costs joined to customer purchases
  • Sales territories joined to customers, joined to product detail
  • Shipments normalized with customer sell-thru data
  • Customer inventory joined to distribution center inventory and costs

Supply chain planning tools for managing demand, supply and distribution need to be tightly integrated with the specially-built data repository to support the often extensive and deep planning and analysis tasks like:

  • Sales and order analysis to understand key drivers like product demand, as well as a deeper understanding of customer buying patterns affecting supply
  • Supplier analysis to provide a level of risk management on the supply side of the equation
  • Customer fulfillment and service analytics to ensure fill rates or to help isolate quality and fulfillment process problems
  • Inventory analysis and planning to provide the cost-effective buffer for top-level customer service
  • Distribution channel optimization and analysis
  • Demand forecasting, measurement and reporting as one of the most important upstream variables in driving downstream efficiency
  • Marketing cost analysis to understand the value of demand shaping efforts usually built into the demand planning process

If it is not already obvious what the importance of a supply chain-specific information repository is, then here is a list of important reasons:

  • Faster and deeper analysis of supply chain-specific processes with metrics and KPIs that leverage specialized supply chain data and form the basis for better supply chain control and continuous improvement
  • A more robust planning platform using rich concentric data, resulting in lower operating costs and improved customer service levels
  • Overall improved financial performance through higher return on inventory investment, support of cost containment programs such as inventory retargeting and shortened cash-to-cash cycle times.

A boutique information repository such as a supply chain repository draws the attention of the IT community largely because it represents a move away from the corporate standard of a single data warehouse; but the fact is, such a repository can represent a high-value, enriched extension of the corporate standard if constructed correctly. Frankly, without the repository the supply chain community is often flying blind. There is clear proof this type of repository pays for itself quickly.

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This post was written by John Hughes