Home' MHD Supply Chain Solutions : MHD Nov-Dec 2015 Contents Economic conditions, market forces, tech-
nology and customer demands are all
evolving at rates difficult to comprehend.
Companies failing to adjust to this 'new normal'
risk losing market share and an eventual slide
The challenge is particularly acute in the
manufacturing and supply chain sectors. New
retail models, just-in-time inventories and rising
customer expectations mean companies must
re-think internal processes. Approaches that
might have worked well for years may no longer
be good enough.
Manufacturers need to deal with much
faster product lifecycles. Where traditionally the
timeline from initial idea to prototype, manufac-
turing and delivery might have been years, often
it now has to be achieved within just months.
In the supply chain, the challenge is one of
pace. Materials need to be delivered to man-
ufacturers, and finished product to retailers or
end users, more rapidly and efficiently than
The road to 'Operational
While the term Business Intelligence (BI) is
widely understood among firms in the sector,
tackling these growing challenges requires some-
thing new. We call it Operational Intelligence.
Operational Intelligence (OI) is a way in which
an organisation can use systems to improve
internal processes and significantly boost service
to customers. Implemented properly, OI can
position an organisation to be able to effectively
deal with rapid change.
At its heart, OI is all about 'connecting the
dots' and involves two key components: having
access to data, and having the ability to build
processes based on that data.
The data required for OI comes in many
forms and is usually stored in different places
within a company. It might include customer
orders, sales histories, staff HR records, out-
standing invoices and service logs. By intelli-
gently linking this data together and building
processes that use it, powerful new ways of
working can be achieved.
You can think of OI as being similar to the
'heads-up' display used by fighter pilots. Rather
than having to search for the information you
need in different places, it's presented to
you in an easy-to-use and always up-to-date
form. Each user can customise their display
so it matches their particular requirements
and workflow. The days of tediously searching
multiple locations for data are gone.
For example, a sales person who receives a
new customer order can monitor stock levels in
multiple warehouses, incoming deliveries and
despatch schedules. After filling the order, it
can be automatically tracked as the goods move
through the supply chain. OI ensures the data
displayed automatically changes as each step
in the process is completed, keeping the sales
person fully informed. Automated alerts can also
be sent to the customer, keeping them updated
on their order status and expected delivery times.
Meanwhile, another staff member might be
checking rosters. With their customised view
constantly updated with the latest leave requests
and personnel moves, they can ensure staffing
levels are appropriate at all times.
Rather than being tied down with cumbersome
manual processes, staff can use OI to obtain a
real-time view based on their specific role and
requirements. Informed decisions can then be
made across the business, enabling improved
performance and better customer outcomes.
Implementing an OI strategy
For an OI strategy to work within an organisa-
tion, two key things must happen:
1. Data silos must be removed and all key business
information held in a central repository.
2. Rules must be established that trigger
the next step in the business process as
In many organisations, data relating to differ-
ent areas - such as sales and inventory manage-
ment - resides in different, siloed systems. For
OI to work, these silos must be removed ideally
by shifting to a single, integrated system for
Next, rules that dictate required actions must
be developed and implemented. For example,
raising an alert when a key service standard
isn't met. These rules must be carefully config-
ured so they map exactly the requirements of
the business; you shouldn't have to change the
way your business works to fit with the software.
While this might sound complex, automat-
ing one critical operational process should be
enough to significantly enhance productivity.
You can then progressively embed operational
intelligence across the fabric of your business
with minimal disruption.
The business benefits of OI
OI is something you 'do', not something you
'buy'. Once it has been adopted by an organisa-
tion, the resulting business benefits will quickly
become apparent. Staff will have access to richer
sources of information, delivered at the moment
it's required, helping to streamline workflows,
remove drudge work and eliminate errors.
This, in turn, improves accuracy and ensures
key items don't 'fall through the cracks' during
busy periods, improving customer relationships
as a result.
OI can also become a motivational tool for
staff. Rather than having to spend time on
repetitive, manual tasks, they can focus on
activities that add more value to the business.
The result is improved productivity and more
There has never been a more critical time
for organisations to adopt OI. With the pace of
change showing no sign of slowing, those that
do will be best placed to meet the challenges
Peter Dickinson is the CEO of Greentree,
a provider of ERP software for mid-tier
organisations. For more information call 1800
000 737 or visit www.greentree.com.
TACKLE THE CHALLENGE OF CHANGE
... WITH OPERATIONAL INTELLIGENCE
OF ALL THE CHALLENGES FACING MODERN BUSINESSES, ONE OF
THE BIGGEST IS THE EVER-INCREASING PACE OF CHANGE.
MHD SUPPLY CHAIN SOLUTIONS --- NOVEMBER / DECEMBER 2015
"OI is something you 'do',
not something you 'buy'.
Once it has been adopted
by an organisation,
the resulting business
benefits will quickly
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