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Will Supply Chain BI Work For Your Company?

June 1, 2011 No Comments

If you want to effectively manage your supply chain, you have to invest in business intelligence (BI) software.

That’s the word from the Aberdeen Group, which conducted a survey of 149 supply chain professionals in March and April 2011. The report, “Business Intelligence Command and Control Center for the Chief Supply Chain Officer,” looked at the challenges enterprises face in managing their complex, global business operations. The report also identified the top strategic actions that top companies are taking to operate more efficiently through business intelligence.

According to the survey respondents, the main issues that drive BI initiatives include increasing the complexity of global operations; the lack of visibility into the supply chain; a need to improve top line revenue; and increased exposure to risk in the supply chain.

But even though more than half (57%) of the execs said a major problem was lack of visibility into the supply chain, only a third (33%) of supply chain professionals from large organizations said their companies have had supply chain business intelligence initiatives in place for two years or more. But in small and mid-size companies that number drops to 20%.

Over at IT Jungle, Dan Burger says business intelligence has to do with brains and bucks. But that doesn’t mean that spending the big bucks on just any BI software is necessarily the way to go, he says. To prove his point, Burger says that companies running their critical supply chain apps on an IBM i platform still have the same problems “related to organizational and process management, along with technology management, as any other organization.” So what you get with a BI solution isn’t always what you hoped you’d get, Burger says.

According to Aberdeen, to operate more efficiently, be successful and increase revenue companies must implement BI software that meets their needs.   “Being able to take control of or respond to disruptive events is critical for top-performing companies to differentiate themselves further from their competitors,” according to Nari Viswanathan, the author of the report. “Control can be achieved with the help of tools such as workflow and escalation mechanisms in addition to mere tracking of events, setting up role-based alerts and the increasing use of supply chain BI.”

Additionally, Aberdeen recommends that companies selecting a BI provider adopt the following criteria:

  • Ease of use: The software should be easy to use for business users as well as supply chain analysts.
  • Supply chain expertise: The software vendor should be able to demonstrate expertise in supply chain as well as in working with companies that are similar to yours in size.
  • Hidden costs: You shouldn’t have to pay extra for modular add-ons or licenses for additional users that can increase maintenance costs.
  • Risks: Ask for client references to ensure the provider can complete the implementation as seamlessly as possible.
  • Impact on IT: The implementation shouldn’t bog down your IT department. So look for rapid deployment packages.
  • Avoid obsolete technology
  • Enabling collaboration with your trading partners: The solution should support a multi-enterprise collaboration out of the box.
  • Integration: Ensure that the software can extract reports from the underlying database so it can more easily integrate with different applications like your ERP system.

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