5 Key Steps to Conquer Supply Chain Efficiency With Data

Supply chain efficiency and transparency are keys elements to grow and sustain your business in the long term. Your customers want to know more about your products, you need to make sure your suppliers are compliant, your go-to-market strategy needs to follow the fast-changing market pace, etc. Your data can help you get there, and even further. Structured data projects following our 5 tips will give you valuable insights to achieve all your goals and objectives. 

Data projects can benefit your company and your day-to-day work without taking up all of your time or money. Projects simply need to be structured and well defined to ensure full success. So first, what do we mean by data?

Data comes from all departments – production, marketing, supply chain, procurement, R&D, etc. – and from different sources – internal software solutions, 3rd parties, public information, etc. For example, you may have data related to production, customer feedback, supplier certifications, certificates of analysis, batch lots, maintenance management, etc.

Where should you start to take full advantage of your data?

1.       Identify your objectives

The best data projects do not start with data, but with the company’s objectives and goals. Knowing where you want to go is crucial to identify which data you should analyze first.


·         You want to streamline logistic processes

Ø  You need to better understand your entire supply chain, from source to store, and review data such as transportation time and routes, warehouse management, and/or cost.

·         You want to increase product quality by 25%

Ø  You should analyze your current and historical product quality database by reviewing product defects, customer feedback, certificates of analysis, etc.

·         You want to increase transparency and customer communication by sharing valuable information related to your products – country of origin, certification, product safety, etc.

Ø  You need to reinforce the relationship with your suppliers to get the right information, as well as review your marketing strategy to understand your customer’s needs.

·         You want to implement sustainability initiatives along your entire supply chain

Ø  You need to communicate with your suppliers about your sustainability strategy and its benefits, such as how these initiatives will help them in their daily work and increase their product value


2.       Collect and clean your data

Working with inaccurate or messy data will not get you far. Having clean and accurate data will give you the most valuable insights to make the right business decisions.

According to Gartner, “poor data quality costs organizations an average of $12.9 million per year.”

With a clean set of data, you could:

•         Speed up projects

•         Uncover insightful information

•         Improve processes

•         Reconnect with customers

•         Enhance collaboration

•         Maximize every business opportunity

“People spend 60% to 80% of their time trying to find data. It’s a huge productivity loss.” — Dan Vesset, group vice president, IDC.


·         If you need to analyze your CRM data

Ø  Make sure you review all duplicates, misspelling, error values, or incorrect formatting before starting the analysis.

"42% of companies estimated an annual revenue loss from 5 to more than 20% due to poor quality CRM data," according to Validity Inc. research

·         If you need to analyze your production data

Ø  Review how you collect your data and ensure that all data is available and digitized to allow for a complete analysis.

·         If you need to analyze your supply chain data

Ø  Review how your suppliers send you their data: software, email, invoices, etc. and make sure you have access to all the data.


3.       Analyze your data

Many options exist today to help you collect and analyze your data, such as platforms, software, and data analysts. Each solution has its advantages and disadvantages. You need to review the pros and cons before implementing a new solution to ensure it is a good fit for your company’s objectives and budget!

According to a study conducted by Tableau and YouGov, business leaders have acknowledged that by being a data-driven company, they were able to increase collaboration by 36% and communication by 42% during a crisis.


·         You want to find patterns or insights within your data

Ø  Use a data mining solution to find previously unknown trends and correlations.

·         You want to analyze your data to make future business decisions

Ø  Use a predictive or prescriptive data analysis tool to determine the likelihood of future scenarios or suggest future courses of action.

·         You want to visualize your data and share information with your clients or partners

Ø  Use a business intelligence tool to visualize current and historical performance and guide future decisions.


4.       Implement a data governance system to simplify future analysis

You need to ensure consistency in your databases to reduce labor for future projects, strengthen collaboration, streamline analysis, and/or increase data sharing. Defining rules and creating a data governance system, or data quality system, will help ensure long term efficiency.


·         Set up data validation for the data fields in your software or your online forms – for example, only accept numbers, no values above 100, email address format rules, etc.

·         Establish data formatting rules such as date format MM/DD/YY, batch lot number XXMMYY, country list, etc.

·         Define a dropdown list of products, product categories, or materials used to avoid misspellings in the database


5.       Strengthen collaboration

Communication is a key element to any project success. All parties should know about the data project, why this project is important, and how it will bring value to them and to the company. Moreover, sharing the results of the project as well as how the employees and the solutions have contributed to its success will fuel your business growth and increase employee adoption.


·         Communicate at the start of the project

Ø  It is key that everyone knows about the project goals and objectives, how they will be involved, and what they will be getting out of the project.

·         Involve corporate and leadership

Ø  It is important to show that everyone is involved and invested in the current and upcoming projects.

·         Set up milestones and review meetings

Ø  The project plan and strategy should include milestones and KPIs to ensure you are on the right track, and everyone is up to date and understands the next steps.

Analyzing the right data does not have to take months or years. You can start implementing the right processes, strategies, and solutions within a few weeks. And soon, you will see a reduction in your employees’ workload, an increase in employee happiness, and will be able to make better business decisions based on facts, rather than guesses.

"74% of companies say profits have increased when investing in data management and analytics," according to an IDC and Qlik study.

You have nothing to lose and so much to gain by starting your data journey today.

© Cécile Camerlynck, Founder and CEO at Dare Digital