Did you know that a single supply chain shock may wipe out 30 to 50% of a company’s annual earnings? And most often, the reason for one is limited visibility into logistics management.
Aiming to get a comprehensive view of logistics operations, companies consider implementing logistics dashboards, a simple BI tool that contributes to improving the efficiency of supply chains and helps organizations prevent disruptions. With dashboards, every party involved in logistics management can monitor and report on warehouse operations, order fulfillment, and transportation, thus spotting any risks in a supply chain before they become large-scale issues.
In this blog post, we’ll explore what smart supply chain management actually means and explain the ways in which organizations can benefit from logistics analytics dashboards.
- Why resilient is the new smart?
- Top supply chain challenges to solve with logistics dashboards
- How supply chain visibility works in different scenarios
- Getting started with logistics dashboards
Why resilient is the new smart?
It’s been only a few years since we entered the new decade of the 21st century, but what a game-changer those few years have been! The consequences of the pandemic, climate change, war in Ukraine, and the subsequent economic downturn have challenged business operations for millions of companies and put global supply chains under pressure.
The most important thing to understand is that disruptions to logistics and operations are set to stay for years to come, and the only way in which supply chains can withstand the chaos and fulfill customer expectations is by building resilience to whatever changes and circumstances we are going through.
IBM, Ernst & Young, and KPMG unanimously call resilience a top priority for modern supply chains. But how does that correlate to logistics dashboards?
A recent survey by McKinsey revealed that introducing logistic dashboards helped 7 out of 10 global supply chain leaders build resilience and overcome the negative impact of past years’ disruptions. In line with the availability of sufficient high-quality master data and implemented scenario planning, end-to-end visibility allows companies to build future-proof supply chains and become smarter.
Top supply chain challenges to solve with logistics dashboards
Building resilience also means proactively addressing common logistics and transportation issues and finding efficient ways of managing supply chains.
On a high level, a supply chain is characterized by a whole variety of challenges. These include:
- Unforeseen delays
- Cost tracking
- Supplier relationships
- Easy access to supply chain data
- Risk management
- Demand forecasting
- Digital transformation
If we zoom those out to get a helicopter view, we’ll notice that all the issues are likely to boil down to the lack of supply chain control.
Logistics dashboards are all about regaining better control over supply chains. While their primary goal is to detect and isolate a specific issue, in the long run, dashboards provide C-suites with comprehensive insights needed for strategic analysis, business planning, and operational efficiency. How does that happen?
Learn the best practices of supply chain visibility
Levels of supply chain management
Traditionally, supply chain management involves three levels: strategic, tactical, and operational.
The strategic level refers to long-term decision-making. It encompasses the company’s future business goals and vision. The aims set at this level correspond to the priorities the company has set for 3-5 years to come. These could be increasing revenues, becoming one of the top-5 market players, reducing operational costs, or achieving ESG compliance.
Tactical management refers to the so-called intermediary objectives that help companies move towards global goals. These could be the need to improve delivery times, decrease shipment costs, or optimize the unit cost of logistics services.
The operational level of supply chain management is about defining and measuring very specific short-term goals, including interim planning, control of day-to-day processes, and activity monitoring.
Often, when mentioning supply chain management optimization, businesses refer to long-term strategic objectives. But in reality, each of the global business aims is still tied to specific KPI targets that are only accomplished by setting interim operational goals. This explains the importance and consistency of supply chain management levels.
To better understand how data visualization helps organizations become smarter at each management level, let’s take a look at different scenarios to which logistics dashboards can apply.
How supply chain visibility works in different scenarios
Considering that a dozen of processes make up each supply chain management level, it’s impossible to imagine a one-size-fits-all visibility solution that would apply to various user roles and business objectives. Moreover, each supply chain is particularly unique.
At the same time, explaining logistics dashboards in action is easier when applied to a specific scenario. Let’s focus on three supply chain use cases that describe the role of visibility in detail.
Scenario: overcoming supply chain delays
Moving towards this strategic goal, a COO needs to first of all understand the reasons behind supply chain delays.
On the tactical level, understanding the reasons for supply chain delays will boil down to decomposing key logistics processes to understand average delivery times, specific locations where delays occur, and freight types that arrive with delays.
On the operational level, companies need to dive deeper and collect daily and weekly information about each freight and vehicle that arrived with a delay. Only after analyzing these details, top managers can be sure they know exactly what prevents them from delivering freight on time and can think of a long-term plan. For example, if a delay systematically occurs at the same part of the route, the strategy could be optimizing the route to avoid traffic congestion or adjusting departure times.
Scenario: decreasing transportation costs
On the strategic level, to solve this task a CFO needs to build a long-term plan of logistics and transportation expenses optimization.
On the tactical level, coming up with a plan like that will require middle managers to collect information about routes, vehicles, and carriers over a certain period of time.
Getting a full picture will require analyzing operational data about each specific shipping event and the parties involved in the process. Using this data, the CFO will make strategic decisions that can prevent a company from spending extra costs—for example, building long-term business partnerships with trusted carriers instead of proceeding with short-term contracts.
Learn how to overcome cost fluctations and other freight challenges
Scenario: tackling inventory depletion
On the strategic level, a Chief Inventory Manager (CIO) needs to build a long-term risk mitigation strategy that starts with detecting inventory blind spots and depletion reasons.
This brings them to the tactical level, where the causes of stockouts are revealed and analyzed. A detailed analysis of periods when the company experienced the most stockouts may reveal that the demand grows in a certain season or during a time-limited event (for example a holiday or the beginning of a school year). Also, if a company deals with perishable goods, depletion may be caused by the violation of storage conditions.
Detecting such issues ultimately hinges on a case-by-case analysis that is only possible on the operational level. Once the challenge is clear, the company’s management can arrive at a desired lasting solution. For example, leveraging AI and automation to streamline demand forecasting.
One of the key roles of a logistics analytics dashboard is helping businesses spot and promptly react to operational issues across the supply chains before they turn into supply chain shocks. Starting with understanding the low-level challenges, organizations often proceed with turning this experience into a long-term strategy. This is how the so-called visibility continuum works in supply chains.
Getting started with logistics dashboards
Implementing BI and analytics for supply chain visibility requires thorough preparation. Sometimes, it’s about years spent collecting the necessary data. But despite that, 9 out of 10 companies continue investing in data analytics as it dramatically changes decision-making and enhances productivity.
So, how to approach the development of logistics dashboards and achieve desired outcomes?
- Define focus areas. Start with an in-depth analysis of business processes and operations to define the areas that lack visibility or require more focus. Specify the levels that need to be monitored and define user roles that are going to use the dashboards.
- Define data requirements. Identify the specific data requirements for the chosen logistics operations. This includes collecting master data, such as order information, shipment details, inventory data, freight costs, and financial data. Ensure that available master data is accurate and up-to-date to build a foundation for a logistics dashboard.
- Collect and integrate data. Prepare a comprehensive and reliable dataset—gather relevant data from various sources within the company’s logistics operations, including transportation management systems, warehouse management systems, inventory management systems, and other data repositories. Validate, cleanse, and transform data to make it ready for integration. Integrate necessary data by bringing it together into a centralized location or data warehouse.
- Introduce scenario planning andestablish standards for KPI calculations. Scenario planning helps to simulate different scenarios and evaluate their impact on a company’s logistics operations. This could include testing different transportation routes, warehouse locations, inventory levels, or demand fluctuation. To make sure that everyone involved is on the same page, it’s important to agree on the ways to calculate the KPIs that will be displayed in the dashboards.
- Develop visualizations and analytics. Now it’s time to create charts, graphs, maps, and other visual representations of the logistics data. Implement analytics tools and algorithms to perform data analysis, such as forecasting demand, identifying bottlenecks, optimizing routes, or monitoring KPIs. These visualizations and analytics will provide actionable insights and help managers track the performance of the company’s logistics operations.
- Ensure accessibility and user-friendliness. A logistics dashboard needs to be easily accessible and user-friendly for the intended users. Make sure to implement intuitive navigation, interactive elements, customizable views, and provide real-time data updates. To ensure that users can effectively use the dashboard for decision-making and logistics performance monitoring, provide training and introduce support capabilities.
Popular BI tools vs custom logistics dashboards
Approaching the implementation of logistics dashboards, there is always a choice between BI software that comes out-of-the-box and custom-developed solutions.
The abundance of modern BI and analytics tools like Tableau, Power BI, Qlik Sense, or Amazon QuickSight can provide comprehensive visibility into logistics processes and operations. But is it enough to gain a competitive edge and embed resilience into enterprise supply chain management?
Popular BI tools
Relevance to specific business requirements
Offer a range of features and functionalities but have limitations in terms of customization and industry-specific integrations.
Can be built specifically to address the unique requirements and challenges of the organization's logistics operations. Allow for greater customization, integration of industry-specific metrics and data sources, and alignment with company objectives.
Offer connectivity options to integrate data sources but require additional effort to achieve seamless integration. Real-time data updates may depend on the data sources and configurations.
Can be seamlessly integrated with the organization's existing systems and databases, allowing for real-time or near-real-time data updates.
Typically rely on third-party data hosting, which may raise concerns about data security and compliance.
Ensure complete control over data security measures and access controls; allow for implementing robust security practices and compliance with industry-specific regulations and data protection policies.
Flexibility and scalability
Provide a range of customization options but may be limited in terms of design flexibility and scalability. The ability to adapt to specific requirements and accommodate future growth is dependent on the features and capabilities of the chosen tool.
Flexible in terms of design, layout, and functionality—can be easily adapted to evolving needs, accommodating changes in metrics, reporting requirements, and user preferences. Allow for scaling as the business grows or diversifies its logistics activities.
Typically involve licensing or subscription costs, which can vary based on the features, user licenses, and data storage requirements. Ongoing costs should be considered when assessing the overall cost-effectiveness.
The initial development cost may be higher but allow for long-term cost savings – custom solutions eliminate the need for additional licenses or subscriptions associated with BI tools. Ongoing maintenance and support costs can be reduced as the organization has direct control over the dashboard's development and enhancements.
As you see, custom logistics dashboards development has a number of advantages over popular BI and analytics solutions, especially in the long-term perspective. The final choice here should be made according to specific business needs and objectives. In both cases, however, the results to be achieved depend on a reliable implementation partner.
Power-up resilience and gain full control of logistics operations with Trinetix
At Trinetix, we help organizations harness the power of data-driven decision-making to solve the most complex logistics challenges. For years of digital partnerships, we leveraged end-to-end visibility to build resilient solutions for supply chain management, freight transportation, warehousing, and inventory management.
We know that becoming future-ready requires a strategic exploratory approach and are ready to bring our best talents to empower your business efficiency. If you are ready to make a step toward smarter supply chain management with next-gen logistics dashboards—let’s chat!