Industry Updates

Visibility Using Dashboards for Suppliers

Written by Ken Kinlock
Published on Thursday, 17 September 2015
dashboardNowhere is the rapid evolution of the automobile more evident than in the car dashboard. Honestly, even we were a little shocked when we dug through old photos online and saw how far the car dashboard has come in a few short decades.
As a proponent of Supply Chain Control Towers, I have always been looking for “things” to use them for. The whole idea of the Tower is connectivity with every element of the supply chain: numerous small supplies, far-flung logistics providers, etc.The big retailer “owns” the Tower. But if the Tower does not have in and out connectivity with everyone in the “big picture”, it is just “a voice in the wilderness”. We can't expect every supplier to build their own Control Tower! One of the reasons the retailer sources from many of their suppliers is that they are an efficient and cost-conscious organization.

Let's agree on a “dashboard” approach for these suppliers to link up with the Control Tower. Everything has barcodes on it. Scanning is becoming easier and less labor-intensive. We will call upon our old friend EDI to be the great communicator.

No, we will not just dump the contents of the SCM Control Tower into every supplier's dashboard. We will make it useful by zeroing in on “KPIs” – those key performance indicators which are truly meaningful to the specific supplier's business. – and focusing on those. Real time analytic dashboards based upon those KPIs can make even the most complex data useful.

A top-level view of all the activity within a specific area of the supply chain can not only be helpful for you, but can also make the information more easily understandable to others within your organization. Your department heads do not have time to analyze various reports, statistics and spreadsheets. Pulling the relevant information together into one place, with key data at the forefront, makes your data more valuable and helps everyone make better decisions.

Data sent and received must be current, accurate and as real-time as possible. That means close coordination with the SCM Control Tower.

Your supplier dashboard can show:

- Meeting Purchase Order requirements
- Lead Time on part delivery
- Price Variance
- Quality of shipments
- On-time delivery
- Invoicing delays / errors

When you want to have another cut of the data, you shouldn’t have to go back to your developer or the SCM Control Tower to build a new view. Good dashboards should include the ability to drill down to look into problem areas or fine tune a query to have a slightly different view etc.

Your staff should have views customized to the level they require in order to make decisions at their level. At the same time, views should also be secured based on the user level.

Consolidating all the various elements associated with supply chain (from inventory, to shipping, order tracking etc. will help users take action on the data displayed. And, oh yes, in today's World, everything must be accessible via mobile devices. No need to have key staff people walking down to the computer room.

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