All Posts
Reporting & insights
Reporting & insights
8 min read

Supply Chain Analytics: AGR’s Guide to What’s Possible in 2024 and Beyond

Published on:
January 18, 2024
Today’s complex global supply chains, multiplying sales channels, and rising customer expectations all mean you have to think fast and make the right decisions. To do that, you need to see the big picture. You have to understand where you are today and where you need to go tomorrow.

That’s where supply chain analytics comes in. By harnessing data from across your operations and crunching it in smart ways, supply chain analytics drive the insights and reporting you need to optimise inventory, anticipate market trends, streamline supplier relationships, track cash flow, and make choices that fuel growth. If you aren’t harnessing these insights, you’re facing higher costs from stockouts, overstocking, obsolete stock, or overpriced procurement.

Data quality is the bedrock of success

Effective supply chain analytics start with high-quality data. You must ensure data is accurate, up-to-date, and well-organised using consistent formats. Incomplete or inconsistent data can undermine all your efforts, leading to incorrect insights and flawed decisions that ultimately lower efficiency and raise costs. To bring your data together effectively, we recommend:

  • Assigning a master data owner: A master data owner works closely with your finance and supply chain teams. Don’t just have them track costs and cash flow — monitor service levels too.
  • Centralising data management: Break down those siloed systems and aim for unified data storage along with a strict governance framework and automatic validation processes.
  • Refreshing data regularly: Establish automated processes and monitoring mechanisms to keep information like vendor order parameters up to date. Regularly clean your data to remove duplicates, correct inconsistencies, and handle missing values.

Turn information into insights

With a sturdy foundation of accurate and accessible data, you can begin the process of looking for insights. Start by agreeing on your crucial key performance indicators (KPIs) to understand and track your progress. We recommend monitoring important metrics like:

  • Inventory turnover,
  • Service level,
  • Order fill rate,
  • Supplier performance/lead times.

Establishing KPIs gives you a clear target and keeps you aligned to core business objectives. Even using basic tools like Excel, you can drive a range of descriptive, diagnostic, predictive, or prescriptive analytics to generate actionable insights. Here are just a few examples of what’s possible:

  • Descriptive Analytics — examine past data for insights
    Data summaries: Use pivot tables and charts to visualise trends and patterns
  • Diagnostic Analytics — find the reason for past performance issues
    Root cause analysis: Use filtering, sorting, and formulae to drill down into data, determining the cause of issues like stockouts
  • Predictive Analytics — forecast future events using current data and trends
    Demand forecasting: Moving averages, exponential smoothing, and linear regression can help you predict demand to optimise inventory levels and procurement
  • Prescriptive Analytics — recommend actions based on what could happen in the future
    Scenario planning: Use scenario manager to explore the impact of potential events and support strategic planning

Embrace new trends

If your master spreadsheet is now a monster spreadsheet, you’re probably dedicating a huge amount of time to manually updating and checking data. These manual processes are costly and create a constant risk of human errors. Worse, you might be relying on the knowledge of just one or two key people.

While Excel itself is inexpensive and has some useful features, it falls short in terms of data visualisation and the number of KPIs you can track. In contrast, specialised software will let you take advantage of some of the latest analytics trends and capabilities:

  • Real-time data: Thanks to open APIs, you’ll have access to real-time data from both inside and outside your business, enabling immediate insights and a much quicker response to supply chain dynamics.
  • AI and machine learning: These tools can be particularly useful for pulling third-party data into your demand forecasting process or for predicting demand when items have a patchy sales history.
  • Advanced visualisation: More sophisticated visualisation capabilities, like dynamic dashboards, can let you understand the story of your data at a glance.

Deploying a new solution

If you’re looking to roll out specialised software, we recommend opting for a cloud-based solution. Software-as-a-service (SaaS) demands little to no infrastructure investments and reduces the IT management burden on your team. Look for a solution that’s also adaptable and easy to use. Your software should adjust to the specific needs and nuances of your business, not demand that you adapt to it.

During the rollout, it’s important to start small and take incremental steps forward. You might want to narrow your initial focus to optimising your top supplier. Give your team the time they need to learn the system and embrace new analytics and reporting capabilities without being overwhelmed. This will also give you the time to check and verify your data. Remember, bad information in, bad insights out!

Don’t forget the importance of human support either. It’s much easier to implement and make the most of your new software when you can regularly touch base for expert guidance.

We can help! 

Fast to implement, easy-to-use and highly scalable, our cloud-based software has everything you need to unleash effective supply chain analytics, reporting, and insights. With cutting-edge tools rolled into one risk-free subscription, it’s the missing link in your business success:

  • Enhanced data visualisation: Make informed decisions quickly with all your data clearly visualised in one place and updated nightly. We make it easy to customise your view with tools like our item card, where you can make changes to an individual SKU and see the effects straight away.
  • Flexible reporting: Unlike some systems that make you search high and low for the right information, we make it easy to dive into problems and find the data you need. Our order and reporting exception capabilities also make sure you know if something unusual is happening.
  • Advanced forecasting suite: With around 20 different forecasting methods, we can run predictions and check the results against reality to focus on the most accurate approach per item.
  • Easy integration: We make it simple to aggregate data from your existing ERP system. At the same time, our public API also makes it quick and easy to share data securely with people up and down the value chain.
  • Simplicity and ease of use: From automatic forecasting to recommended reporting, we’ve made sure you don’t need deep technical knowledge to make the most of our software.
  • Personal customer service: We ensure every customer has access to an extensive knowledge base and a dedicated success manager — helping you get started, maintain momentum, and reach specific goals.

Learn more about how we can help or book a personalised demo.