Continual performance improvement is not a small undertaking; it is a way of life for companies seeking to remain competitive. In fact, the term "continual" guarantees an ongoing effort in refining operations. Supply chain visibility solutions provide a powerful avenue in contributing to performance improvement goals by providing statistics and measurements of supply chain processes and operations.
The ability to view key performance indicators (KPIs), metrics and trends does not provide much value unless the underlying detail behind the numbers is also available. Obtaining actionable data is critical in order to make effective strategic and tactical decisions. Through the availability of actionable data, supply chain visibility solutions become an invaluable asset in providing continual performance improvement.
Actionable Data Drives Effective Change
Actionable data are the precursor for effective change. Making arbitrary or uninformed decisions in an attempt to secure a specific improvement is not cost efficient and is unlikely to produce successful results. Isolating the root causes for specific performance measurements and providing a tactical approach to resolving them is the fastest, most effective way to gain performance improvements.
Information becomes actionable once the data can be analyzed in such a way that a decision can be made to affect a desired outcome. In the supply chain, actionable data drive strategic and tactical decisions aimed at increasing efficiencies, thus reducing costs. Knowing that vendor compliance averaged 98 percent last quarter is not actionable in the truest form. However, the ability to view each vendor and their overall compliance history provides information that can be acted upon. For example, if one vendor has a compliance rating of 97 percent, then specific actions can be taken with that vendor to determine any underlying issues with meeting the desired compliance standards.
Companies that do not currently have visibility into actionable data may not be aware of substantial efficiencies that could be gained by even minor adjustments. Knowledge of pertinent information is essential to effecting change that will lead to cost savings. On the other hand, many operations have plentiful supplies of granular data, but do not have a usable method to identify what data are important. It is easy to overlook exceptions in a supply chain process when the data are hidden among information that is currently as expected.
For companies that perform well in certain areas of the supply chain, complacency may be reached when, quarter after quarter, a supply chain averages about 98.6 percent in on-time deliveries. While in some industries that is a good average, there is still room for improvement. The ability to view the underlying data beneath the numbers could reveal very surprising information. As the saying goes, "one bad apple can spoil the bunch." It is possible that upon further review, a handful of suppliers contributed the most to the decline of specific performance measurements. Once the information is made available, further actions can be taken as needed that will lead to noticeable performance improvements. Whether changes are made in a process or addressing an exception real-time, actionable data are the predecessor for implementing effective change.
Visibility Solutions Deliver Actionable Data
Actionable data are most effective when the right data are presented to the right people, at the right time and in the right method. One effective and powerful way to receive actionable data is made possible through supply chain visibility solutions. Visibility solutions have the infrastructure in place to prominently display data that need attention, whether through alerts, dashboards, reports, e-mails, hand-held devices or text pages, and direct the information to the right people.