Every manufacturing and distribution business faces its own unique challenges, however, virtually all of them share the reality of ever-rising customer expectations and competitors looking to steal market share. The dynamic nature of business makes it likely that solutions used in the past will not suffice for the future. Forward-thinking businesses know they must prioritize continuous innovation.
Innovation is often thought of as coming principally from technical research and development. While technical R&D is crucial for long-term viability, the potential impact that short- and medium-term improvements can have should not be underestimated. One high impact opportunity may be right at a business’s fingertips – unlocking the power of existing data. Improved data tools and analytics can accelerate time to insight and deliver meaningful ROI.
Most businesses capture a great volume of data. Some of this data finds its way into reports used by management. Some does not. Typically, the data that does make its way to management has these, and potentially other, shortcomings:
- It is comprised of a collection of static and non-interactive reports
- It is backward looking
- It is less “real time” than management would prefer
- It is administratively burdensome to compile and present
What if a business could efficiently link data from all facets of its operations and view that data in a multi-dimensional way through a real time interactive dashboard, akin to turning the sides of a Rubik’s Cube? It is easy to imagine how powerful that would be.
Through enhanced utilization of data, management can deepen its understanding of key business drivers and uncover trends and causal factors. Traditionally, management reporting is comprised of disjointed reports. For example, sales summaries by customer, price variances by material, and labor utilization rates by shift. Each of these reports provides an illustration of “reality” within its intended subsection of the overall business but falls short of telling a complete story.
Think of the traditional method of analysis as six, two-dimensional tables. Each table relies on a fixed data set and has a specific purpose or targeted outcome. Now imagine the powerful information that could be unlocked if those six disparate data sets converged to form a three-dimensional cube. By combining and linking the data sets, a business can generate exponentially more data views. Imagine the possibilities:
- What if real time data on material scrap rates and employee absenteeism could feed a predictive procurement and profitability model?
- What if the simple click of a button allowed profitability to be viewed at multiple levels (customer, distribution channel, geography, salesperson, production line, SKU, raw material component, etc.) and across any desired timeframe? What if it were easy to generate multiple view combinations?
- What if raw material attributes could be automated to generate reporting across any timeframe management wanted to see? Live, SKU-level insights into:
- Actual costs
- Purchase price variances
- Cost and variance data linked to buyer, vendor, location, and other attributes
- Cost and variance data linked to bottom-line company profitability
- What if it were possible to efficiently link customer claims back to the production shift, machine cell, mold, raw material component, etc. responsible?
- What if the model used to determine inventory stock levels could be continuously optimized by incorporating multiple inputs such as historical sales levels, seasonality, pricing developments, scrap rates, customer orders, sales personnel forecasts, contractual rights of return, required safety stock, etc.?
We Can Help
Elliott Davis’s Analytics & Insights consulting team is dedicated to helping businesses unlock the power of their data and uncover actionable insights. After gaining an understanding of a company’s data sources and uses, we can advise regarding new and powerful data combinations and KPI’s and assist with the implementation thereof. In summary, we help businesses brainstorm on and, ultimately, realize their own unique “what if’s”. We welcome the opportunity for an exploratory discussion, please contact Alek Bevensee or Eric Schmid.
The information provided in this communication is of a general nature and should not be considered professional advice. You should not act upon the information provided without obtaining specific professional advice. The information above is subject to change.