Data Quality and Timeliness Drive Better Supply Chain Decisions

Data Quality and Timeliness Drive Better Supply Chain Decisions

High-quality supply chain infrastructure engines need high-quality, timely data for best performance, but more doesn’t always mean better.
* By Mike Ogle *

Shipments for production, distribution or sale must be the right stuff, at the right place, at the right time, in the right condition, with the right information. Simple to say. Not so easy to do consistently in a constantly changing environment, challenging your ability to meet customer expectations. More information from a greater range of data gathering and sharing tools doesn’t always help—rising data flow volumes might slow decisions rather than enable them. Josef Mentzer, CEO, of MHI member KNAPP said, “Consumer expectations for quicker response, currently two-hour availability windows in dense urban areas, puts great pressure on supply chains to redirect resources quickly, making the accuracy and speed of data flow vital to success.”

High-quality data is, “reliable, accurate information that is always available and actionable,” said Bart Ivy, chief solutions officer, of MHI member Aware Innovations. The emphasis here is on accuracy and timeliness that decision-makers can rely on, leading to confident action that provides measurable results. No one has perfect data any more than they have perfect forecasts. Being better informed and making fewer mistakes than the competition puts your company on top. However, data that is unreliable or untimely is like an infection that spreads throughout the organization, creating uncertainty and leading to bad decisions.

Ever put bad gas in your car? It may sputter and perform poorly, leaving you stranded when the engine dies. Companies putting low-quality data into supply chains also choke off performance, resulting in incorrect or delayed shipments, possibly shutting down operations. Filtering, verifying, cleaning and evaluating data flows takes time and resources that busy companies are sometimes unwilling to commit. High-quality supply chain infrastructure engines can’t run on low-quality or untimely data.

Better decisions start with higher-quality, timely data exchanged both internally and with customers, suppliers and service partners. First is the visibility of products, locations and assets. Most companies uniquely identify each stock keeping unit (SKU) they need to track. Less common are companies that have highly reliable cubing and weighing systems to get high-quality, reliable data on the dimensions and weights of products.

Within facilities, many companies may uniquely identify each storage location throughout their facilities, but often overlook temporary storage areas while products wait for rack or shelf space. Some may identify spaces outside facilities, realizing that no matter where products reside, location of products is crucial for allocation of resources.

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