Bringing Operational Analytics Online  5 Easy Pieces

Here are five simple steps that enterprises should take as they bring new operational analytics solutions online


Here are five simple steps that enterprises should take as they bring new operational analytics solutions online

There is an increasing emphasis on leveraging operational analytics throughout the enterprise, but some businesses can end up less than happy with this strategic investment if they don't approach it properly. Supply chain professionals can easily avoid some common errors as they implement the business intelligence (BI) and enterprise performance management (EPM) solutions that provide those analytics.

Whether it is an entire suite of analytic applications, an inventory management solution or customer relationship management (CRM) analytics, here are five simple steps that every enterprise should take as it brings new operational analytics solutions online:

1. Set Measurable Objectives — Make sure you set metrics for your BI initiative that take into account your supply chain's processes, prioritized objectives, and the possible challenges or constraints within your enterprise.

There are usually two types of business objectives that should be addressed in this stage: monetary gains and process gains across the enterprise. In the case of a food manufacturer, the most common monetary gains may come from having better visibility into data on pricing, promotions or expired inventory in order to better manage these areas. For process gains, it may be as simple as being able to distribute information deeper throughout the business to employees who can more quickly take action on what the data is telling them.

Whether companies focus on process or monetary gains or both, it is important to prioritize them first before taking the next step, so the enterprise remains focused on the key objectives throughout the implementation. It is simple to set an objective of reducing inventory by 3 percent in order to realize $5 million in savings on the bottom line. However, it may be better to take a tighter focus by trying to reduce out-of-stocks on A items, or even raising inventory slightly to increase customer satisfaction. That might be of more immediate value to the company and easier to do in an implementation phase.

Companies need to understand the strategic value of the operational analytics they are implementing. Yes, vendors will tell them that their suite can do a whole laundry list of things across the enterprise, even throughout the supply chain. However, business goals should be prioritized with an eye on how quickly value can be returned in the eyes of both company executives and end users, so they maintain their focus and interest throughout the implementation.

Every organization has challenges and constraints that it must address early in this first step of the implementation stage. These include the availability and quality of the information already generated by internal business systems, as well as the availability and skill sets of the team members working on the project. Organizations have to ensure they are being realistic about what data they have on hand, and they have to be willing to commit the right people with the right knowledge and skills throughout the implementation to make it a success.

2. Maintain Project Governance Throughout the Implementation Phase — The keys here are to realize your business objectives by making sure that all lines of business within your organization are aligned with project objectives, that you have strong executive sponsorship and involvement; and that there are strong project management capabilities available through a structured implementation methodology.

Presumably, the business objectives should already reflect what's important from a supply chain strategy perspective. That is where strong executive sponsorship is so important to the implementation. The executive sponsor can help ensure the success of the rollout of the new operational analytics by insisting and monitoring that the project team starts small and stays focused on those prioritized business objectives.

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