The Analytics Supply Chain

Businesses across many industries spend millions of dollars employing advanced analytics to manage and improve their supply chains. Organizations look to analytics to help with sourcing raw materials more efficiently, improving manufacturing productivity, optimizing inventory, minimizing distribution cost, and other related objectives.

But the results can be less than satisfactory. It often takes too long to source the data, build the models, and deliver the analytics-based solutions to the multitude of decision makers in an organization. Sometimes key steps in the process are omitted completely. In other words, the solution for improving the supply chain, i.e. advanced analytics, suffers from the same problems that it aims to solve. Therefore, reducing inefficiencies in the analytics supply chain should be a critical component of any analytics initiative in order to generate better outcomes. Because one of us (Zahir) spent twenty years optimizing supply chains with analytics at transportation companies, the concept was a naturally appealing one for us to take a closer look at.

More broadly speaking, the concept of the analytics supply chain is applicable outside of its namesake business domain. It is agnostic to business and analytic domains. Advanced analytics for marketing offers, credit decisions, pricing decisions, or a multitude of other areas could benefit from the analytics supply chain metaphor.

Read more at The Analytics Supply Chain

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Overcoming 5 Major Supply Chain Challenges with Big Data Analytics

Big data analytics can help increase visibility and provide deeper insights into the supply chain. Leveraging big data, supply chain organizations can improve the way they respond to volatile demand or supply chain risk–and reduce concerns related to the issues.

Sixty-four percent of supply chain executives consider big data analytics a disruptive and important technology, setting the foundation for long-term change management in their organizations (Source: SCM World). Ninety-seven percent of supply chain executives report having an understanding of how big data analytics can benefit their supply chain. But, only 17 percent report having already implemented analytics in one or more supply chain functions (Source: Accenture).

Even if your organization is among the 83 percent who have yet to leverage big data analytics for supply chain management, you’re probably at least aware that mastering big data analytics will be a key enabler for supply chain and procurement executives in the years to come.

Big data enables you to quickly model massive volumes of structured and unstructured data from multiple sources. For supply chain management, this can help increase visibility and provide deeper insights into the entire supply chain. Leveraging big data, your supply chain organizations can improve your response to volatile demand or supply chain risk, for example, and reduce the concerns related to the issue at hand. It will also be crucial for you to evolve your role from transactional facilitator to trusted business advisor.

Read more at Overcoming 5 Major Supply Chain Challenges with Big Data Analytics

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Top 25 Risk Factors for Manufacturing Supply Chains

According to a recent report from BDO USA, an accounting and consulting organization, manufacturers’ intellectual property, supply chain data and products have become prime targets for cyber criminals.

The 2016 BDO Manufacturing RiskFactor Report examines the risk factors in the most recent 10-K filings of the largest 100 publicly traded U.S. manufacturers across five sectors including fabricated metal, food processing, machinery, plastics and rubber, and transportation equipment.

The factors were analyzed and ranked by order of frequency cited.

Manufacturing Industry Serves Up New Risks

The manufacturing industry is getting mixed reviews.

The Institute for Supply Management (ISM) Index reported that activity was up in April after five straight months of declines.

Then, in late May, the Purchasing Manager’s Index reported the first reduction in output since September 2009.

In the trenches, manufacturers say domestic demand has been solid, while global business has been more challenging. And the end customer matters: in a recent earnings call, Caterpillar’s CEO noted, “Just about any market that’s away from oil is doing pretty good.”

“Pretty good” is a modest but realistic goal for manufacturers this year, and their top concerns echo this cautious optimism. The annual analysis of the most frequently cited risk factors found the supply chain remains at the top of the list – cited by 100 percent of manufacturers we analyzed – while emerging and growing risks in cybersecurity, competition, labor, pricing, regulations and international operations are also keeping manufacturers up at night.

Read more at Top 25 Risk Factors for Manufacturing Supply Chains

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Managing risk in the digital supply chain

You may be aware of risks and problems in your own business, but increasingly it’s possible to be exposed to issues by other organizations that you deal with, particularly if you’re buying in IT services.

How can enterprises deal with these threats and ensure that their data and that of their customers is kept safe at all stages of the supply chain? We spoke to Dean Coleman, head of service delivery at service management and support specialist Sunrise Software, to find out.

BN: How difficult is it for larger organizations to manage problems that might occur further down the supply chain?

DC: It can be quite difficult, historically most organizations have a handle on risk in terms of what’s going on in the business, financial targets and so on. But when it comes to IT risks and the supply chain providing IT they don’t have the same visibility. These days IT is everywhere and businesses depend on it so IT problems have a larger impact. The understanding of risk needs to be something that key decision makers are more aware of.

BN: Is this a particular problem when dealing with smaller companies who might not have resources in house?

DC: Yes, from the supplier side of the fence we see that smaller organizations often don’t have the skills in house to deal with security, infrastructure, and so on. They rely heavily on these services but don’t see them as a core part of their business. Because they don’t have the skills and resources they will often turn to third parties to manage these things for them. However, in some cases the third parties also don’t do a very good job, they’ll be providing reactive services rather than the proactive ones that are really needed to predict problems based on risk.

Read more at Managing risk in the digital supply chain [Q&A]

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Using Performance Management to Motivate a Disaffected Team

Using Performance Management to Motivate a Disaffected Team

If you’re in charge of a team, you’ll appreciate that they’re rather tricky animals. At times, all appears well, but you’re achieving little. At other times, you’re reaching your targets, but there’s unhappiness and resentment. If your team has become disaffected, then it’s time to rely on performance management to set people straight again. Following a four-step program should ensure success.

Investigate

It’s vital to establish why a team is disaffected. Usually, it’s related to performance – of the entire team or of an individual. The cause may be that the wrong objectives have been set. Perhaps your team members feel their objectives are not achievable or not realistic? Performance management will help you to review these targets.

Implement Performance Management

Performance management works best when there is an atmosphere of honesty and openness. Try to encourage this in your people. Clear objectives also need to be set. Ensure they are SMARTER (specific, measurable, attainable, relevant, time-bound, evaluated and re-evaluated). This useful mnemonic was developed from George T. Doran’s comments in Management Review and has been in use ever since.

Set Goals

Ensure that any targets are clearly aligned to your company’s objectives. The work that your teams carry out should be considered within the work of the company as a whole. Make this as explicit as possible. Your employees need to know that their work matters and has relevancy within the company.

Praise

As soon as objectives are met, ensure you praise, reward and promote. Your team members must see that you, too, have an eye on their targets. The promise of promotion is a real motivator.

Appreciation and motivation are one of the keys to increase performance, and to align any targets to company’s objectives. If you have any opinion about this topic, feel free to leave us a comment or send us a message.

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