Myths About Business Intelligence in Supply Chain Projects

In our last post, we focused on why Business Intelligence (BI) is critical to successful supply chain projects (https://bit.ly/2MxGR5C). Now we will take a look at two myths that we have seen while implementing BI and analytics as part of supply chain transformation projects at companies across industries.

Myth 1: The Reporting Will Work “Out of the Box”

Often we have found that reporting and business intelligence requirements get put to the side during supply chain software implementations because, while companies understand the importance of setting up the needed visibility for managers, supervisors, and end users, the reports and dashboards are generally expected to just “work.” Many vendors sell this idea when they demo BI as an add-on to packed software solutions. However, this is a common misconception. Packaged BI solutions on the market rarely allow for a one-size-fits-all approach. Additionally, the focus, testing, and training in a supply chain implementation is often on the transactional systems (WMS, TMS, etc.) until at the last minute someone asks, “What about the reports?” It is necessary to review any packaged solutions and incorporate BI design into the design phase of the project. Identifying a BI team early in the project will ensure users have the tools required to fully use transactional systems. Also, as part of the BI design, companies can gather and collect base line metrics to help justify the ROI of projects as part of the implementation. The ultimate lesson of this myth is that each company will have specific needs that need to be identified as part of the project design. Don’t assume that your BI will “just work” out of the box.

Myth 2: Testing Reports and Dashboards and Training Can Be Implemented Outside the Core Project

Supply chain software implementation projects often coordinate test reports and dashboards and training on the BI tool outside of the core activities of the project. Project managers prioritize testing the core functionality of the transactional systems without consideration of the BI components. This approach is flawed because often operational reporting and the dashboards are integral to providing the required visibility for the end users, supervisors, and managers to accomplish their tasks. These users need to have the full picture of the tools available to them and the training to use those tools to adequately prepare for adopting the new system in production. Therefore, all testing and training cycles should include the operational reporting requirements in conjunction with the overall project test scripts. It is absolutely required for the success of the project to include BI strategy and KPI definition in the design phase and reports and dashboards in the testing, training, and execution phases alongside the other activities in the supply chain project plan. We have seen many examples where companies develop reports, KPIs, and dashboards as a separate project. Often this leads to serious gaps during go-lives, when companies realize they do not have the necessary visibility and troubleshooting capabilities for the project to be a success. And as Peter Drucker once said, “If you can’t measure it, you can’t manage it.” Don’t make this mistake when planning your next project.
Agillitics will be attending Promat 2015 in Chicago, March 23-26th www.promatshow.com. Please e-mail us at promat@agillitics if you will be attending.
About Agillitics Agillitics is full service business intelligence and analytics consulting firm that focuses on supply chain systems. The Firm works across industry verticals to help clients leverage their data to measure and improve operations, increase sales, and meet complex customer demands. For more information, please visit www.agillitics.com.

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