Why Supply Chain Managers Need Better Data to Drive Decision-Making—Not More of It

Modern supply chains generate a lot of data—from the smallest facility to the biggest global operation. This data can completely transform how shippers operate, leading to more strategic decision-making, better forecasting, and more.

But this is only possible if shippers use their data to its full advantage. And all too often, supply chain managers face deeply entrenched barriers that make it difficult for them to handle their organization’s data and use it in a meaningful way.

If shippers struggle to gain useful insights from their data, they may assume that they just need more of it. This usually isn’t the case. The truth is, they are often working with “dirty” data—data that is outdated, incomplete, or riddled with errors.

When it comes to data analysis, if companies put garbage in, they can only expect to get garbage out. Bad data simply will not deliver the kind of results supply chain managers looking for, so gathering more of it is only going to lead to more bad results and more wasted time. Here’s how companies can gather better-quality data to drive better decision-making—and give them a strategic edge.

Identifying hurdles

When it comes to making the most of an organization’s data, the problem many supply chain managers face is twofold. If their company doesn’t have an effective system in place to capture, track, and manage high-quality data, the data coming in may be deeply flawed. But if the manager doesn’t come from a data background, it may be difficult for them to even recognize they’re working with dirty data, let alone do anything about it.

The right technology can eliminate both problems, ensuring supply chain managers have high-quality data to work with and an easy way to visualize and analyze it to glean actionable insights.

Unfortunately, countless managers are stuck using outdated and ineffective processes for data collection and synthesis. This may be caused by legacy tech that can’t handle the higher volume of data coming in as an organization scales, or it may be the product of disparate systems that make it incredibly challenging for managers to bring together all the data they need. The result is a data set that may be full of holes and out of date before the manager has even begun analyzing it.

Add to that the fact that a shocking number of organizations still use some manual data collection processes, which can invite even more delays and errors, and accessing and analyzing company-wide data in a timely, useful fashion becomes a nearly impossible task.

The first step to creating a better system is recognizing where the problems exist. With these barriers identified, shippers can begin exploring ways to improve their data collection processes and streamline their data analysis.

Adopting an effective solution

The good news is, supply chain managers don’t need a data science background to make better use of their data. They just need the right tools at their disposal.

Using a robust transportation management system (TMS) makes data collection a breeze. In addition to streamlining and optimizing shipping processes, a fully-integrated TMS can automatically gather data from across all a company’s disparate systems. This not only ensures it’s housed in one easily accessible place, but heightens the accuracy, timeliness, and completeness of all data a manager is looking at.

From there, shippers can utilize business intelligence (BI) tools to easily visualize and analyze their data. The best TMS solutions have built-in BI tools, allowing managers to rapidly pull up handy dashboards, explore their KPIs at a glance, and drill down into the data for a more detailed look.

This makes it easy to gather real insights and spot trends in the data. Supply chain managers can then turn this information into useful reports to present to their business leaders—helping them identify areas for improvement and more successfully position themselves as strategic partners.

Making the most of data

Better data leads to a stronger competitive advantage. Rather than endlessly gathering and trying to make sense of bad information, companies should explore solutions that take the difficulty of data analysis.

CTSI-Global’s industry-leading TMS solution has business intelligence baked in, empowering shippers to do more with their data. Don’t let bad data hold back meaningful change. Contact us today.