Accessing supply chain data for decision making


Aberdeen recently published their Supply Chain Innovator’s Technology Footprint 2008 report.  One Fast Fact in the report caught my eye:

  • 78% of Best-in-Class companies indicate that they have the ability to find (within a reasonable time) and access supply chain data needed for decision making versus 50% of all others.

This is interesting for at least two reasons.  First, if you can’t get your hands on the supply chain information you need to make decisions in a timely manner, then by definition you are not able to respond to supply chain events in a timely manner (well, I suppose you can guess or make something up).  With the growing volatility across global supply chains, your ability to respond quickly and accurately is increasingly critical to your competitive position in the market.  This data suggests a significant number of companies are unable to do this.

The second reason this is interesting is actually not stated here.  I’ve found time and time again that supply chain visibility alone is not enough.  There are two other aspects to this problem that are not discussed here.  First, you have to be sure that you put the right supply chain information into the hands of the right people.  Increasingly, these are your front line decision makers that need to take action in the face of constantly changing circumstances.  If the people “in the trenches” don’t have this critical supply chain visibility, they won’t be able to act and react.  Second, supply chain visibility alone is not enough.  Front line decisions makers need tools for risk tradeoff and response.  It’s not enough to have visibility into an historical perspective on the supply chain.  They need tools to collaborate, simulate various action alternatives and compare them before pulling the trigger on a high impact judgement call.

As the research states, it starts with supply chain visibility – and there’s a lot of work to do there.  But it doesn’t end there – ensuring that the right people are empowered with visibility and tools to respond to constant change is critical in today’s market.

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