Home' MHD Supply Chain Solutions : MHD May-Jun 2016 Contents Change has always been a challenge
for business. But the ever-increasing
pace of change has become one of the
greatest challenges facing modern businesses.
It can be difficult to comprehend the rate of
change we are currently seeing in economic
conditions, market forces, technology, customer
demands and the regulatory environment.
Companies need to adjust to this 'new normal'
or risk losing market share and an inevitable
slide into irrelevance.
Approaches that might have worked well
for years may no longer be good enough. New
retail models, just-in-time inventories and
rising customer expectations mean companies
in the industrial sector must re-think internal
processes. In the supply chain, materials need
to be delivered to manufacturers and finished
product to retailers or end users more rapidly
and efficiently than ever before.
The road to Operational Intelligence
Most executives running modern, process-driv-
en operations understand the power of
Business Intelligence (BI). But tackling these
growing challenges requires something more
than data analysis and forecasting. We call it
Operational Intelligence (OI) is a way in
which an organisation can use a fully integrated
business management system to improve
internal processes and significantly boost
service to customers. Implemented properly,
OI can position an organisation to not only
effectively deal with rapid change, but to drive
positive business change through incremental
improvement for itself.
At its heart, Operational Intelligence is all
about effectively 'connecting the dots' across
the fabric of an organisation and involves two
key components: having access to real-time
information, when and where you need it, plus
having the ability to build processes based on
Without an integrated business management
system, the data required for OI is usually
stored in different places within a company.
For example, a single customer transaction
can include procurement, finance, sales, HR,
inventory management and a range of external
suppliers. By intelligently linking this data together
and building automated processes around it,
powerful new ways of working can be achieved.
You can think of OI as being a ‘head-up’
display much the same as an air force pilot
might use. Rather than having to search for
information, it is presented directly to you in
an easy-to-use and always up-to-date form.
Because each user is able to customise their
display, the information displayed can be
matched to a role’s particular requirements
and workflow. The days of tediously searching
multiple locations for data are gone.
For example, a salesperson in an engineering
company who receives a new customer
order can instantly see where it is currently
stocked across multiple warehouses, with
real-time information about stock levels and
delivery times. After filling the order, it can
be automatically tracked as the goods move
across the supply chain, right through to
being delivered to the customer and payment
being made. OI ensures the data displayed
automatically changes as each step in the
“The result is improved productivity across the board
and generally happier, more engaged employees.”
process is completed, keeping you fully
informed and alerting you if a delay or issue
occurs. Similarly, automated alerts can be sent
to the customer, keeping them updated on their
order status and expected delivery times.
Implementing an OI strategy
OI is something you ‘do’, not just 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.
Generally, for an OI strategy to work, two key
things must happen:
1. Data silos must be removed so that informa-
tion can be entered once, then effectively
2. Business processes need to be understood
so that rules can be established to trigger the
next step in a process as data changes.
Implementing OI can be easier than you think,
as the 80:20 rule definitely applies. By automating
one critical operational process to solve a problem
for your biggest customer, you are effectively
embedding that change in the fabric of your
business so that every customer can benefit.
You can then progressively apply operational
intelligence across your business with minimal
disruption and maximum ongoing benefit.
The hidden business benefits of OI
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. It also makes it
very difficult for less-engaged employees to drop
the ball, as issues and errors are immediately
identified and can be quickly remedied.
The result is improved productivity across the
board and happier, more engaged employees.
Given the increasing pace of change, there has
never been a more compelling time for industry
to adopt OI. As the pace of change showing no
sign of slowing, those who pick up and embrace
OI will be best placed to meet the changes and
challenges that tomorrow will inevitably bring.
Peter Dickinson is the CEO of Greentree.
For more information call 1800 000 737 or
MHD SUPPLY CHAIN SOLUTIONS — MAY / JUNE 2016
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