How to Utilize Technology to Align the Flow of Data in the Supply Chain

Every supply chain manager knows that data is important. Global supply chains are producing an unprecedented amount of data every day, providing countless opportunities for companies to gain insights into their processes and operations.

But with a huge volume of data comes the challenge of collecting and processing it efficiently. Sadly, this is an area where many companies fall short.

When supply chains are weighed down by disparate systems, manual data-entry processes, and a lack of any coherent data flow, crucial information falls through the cracks. By aligning the flow of data through the use of efficiency-boosting technology and tools, companies can tap their data for insights sooner—empowering them to make rapid strategic pivots and identify key opportunities to save.

As part of our ongoing series into how companies can gain a competitive advantage by boosting supply chain efficiency, here are the steps they can take to align the flow of data—and create more cohesive processes.

Establishing the building blocks

Implementing a robust transportation management system (TMS) is one of the fastest ways that companies can align the flow of data across their supply chain.

At the most basic level, the TMS allows companies to consolidate data from all of their disparate enterprise systems and service providers. It can also help eliminate a common supply chain plague—silos. Data from separate departments and facilities can often become isolated and largely inaccessible, especially if a team is heavily relying on paper documentation. Not only can this increase the time it takes a company to gather productive, actionable insights, but it increases the risk of drawing incorrect conclusions from limited or incomplete data sets, or outdated data.

Using a TMS, companies can ensure that the data from every department and facility is flowing consistently into one single, centralized hub. This significantly streamlines reporting, forecasting, and a host of other critical tasks. The smooth flow of data also enables end-to-end visibility, giving supply chain managers a bird’s eye view of their entire supply chain.

Ensuring smooth running

Using their TMS, companies can also establish effective protocols for stronger corporate governance. By standardizing processes and using the TMS to enforce specific rules, companies can ensure that data around outlier behavior is immediately flagged.

For example, if a particular facility frequently uses non-preferred carriers that charge higher rates, the TMS can trigger an alert that notifies relevant managers and allows them to step in. Without the TMS in place, it may take management months to spot this behavior—if it’s spotted at all.

By aligning and streamlining the flow of data, companies can prevent information like this from becoming “locked up” within a particular department or facility, shining a light on areas for improvement. And by automating data flows through a unified online portal, managers can ensure that the supply chain is humming along like clockwork without requiring excess manpower to collect and process data manually.

Bringing it all together

Once a company has fully aligned its flow of data, the final step is to extract insights that drive meaningful change.

Business intelligence (BI) solutions make it easier to visualize, synthesize, and analyze vast data sets to identify insights and discern trends. The best BI tools enable managers to rapidly create reports, review KPIs, and drill down into the data when they need more detail. With this information in hand, they can make more strategic business decisions—and gain a major advantage over the competition.

Align, streamline, and prevail

Without cohesive processes and a fully aligned flow of data, companies risk missing out on vital insights into their supply chain.

CTSI-Global’s industry-leading transportation management system and business intelligence solutions make it easy to keep up with the endless stream of data the supply chain produces. By streamlining and automating processes and creating a centralized repository for supply chain data, companies can realize significant improvements in efficiency—and put money back in the bottom line.

Do more with data. Contact us today to get started.

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