Our company serves supply chain clients who operate their own on premises systems for handling EDI activity as well as clients who rely on our managed services for handling some or all such B2B activity. We’ve been exploring how best to leverage the latest technology to deliver useful, actionable information based on such activity directly to our clients. Lately, we’ve been dreaming about delivering dashboards, or at-a-glance views of key performance indicators (KPIs) to monitor important aspects of the business. Today’s tech is so powerful, today’s dreams quickly become tomorrow’s reality!
We’re starting by imagining what the various stakeholders might need and how they would benefit.
The bread-and-butter activity for most of our clients is performed by the wizards in Customer Service. These are the people who ensure that every customer’s needs are being met. With a properly running, automated EDI system a quick glance at their daily dashboard can confirm system processing including activity and exceptions by trading partner and performance status vis a vis service level agreements (SLAs), especially for more demanding trading partners. Anything amiss becomes easily actionable and leaves more time for any ad hoc activity, i.e. addressing product, service, billing or other concerns. While internal ERP systems supply much product-oriented and transactional information, we can easily imagine querying a dashboard system for the customer’s PO # and getting back a visual flow from the customer’s perspective of not only when that PO arrived, but when it was acknowledged, shipped, and invoiced, including the option of drilling in to each document. Why shouldn’t we be able to query with any piece of available information and then pick up the entire related document flow?
Part of the Operations team’s dashboard might be more volume-oriented to guide staff utilization, i.e. focused on #s of orders, #s of lines, organized by ship via as well as partner and requested shipping date. Another part might clearly identify orders facing shipping or ASN deadlines. What about alerts for Rejected ASNs that may be due to mismatched or missing information? Operations should be able to drill down to identify the challenge, and quickly correct which can avoid the ripple effects of an invoice being rejected because the ASN has not yet been accepted.
The Controller / CFO types dream of dashboards to improve payment days, and queries to support refuting any chargebacks that are incurred but more importantly wants the information about activity, chargebacks and exceptions aggregated for easy analysis, prioritization, and elimination, collaboratively both within the organization and with trading partners. Are we doing enough business efficiently with a given trading partner to meet a SLA demand or price reduction request? It is easy to lose sight of orders that are processed automatically – what about alerts for unusually large ones?
IT of course wants the new Dashboard system to be easy for non-technical, non-EDI familiar users to successfully use. Really, they do, IT already has a lot on the plate. They want additional dashboards to be available to address the specific needs of their various stakeholders, and useful templates to encourage the creation and adoption of new ones. What about definable notifications and alerts by e-mail or text message? For speed, security and risk management, IT wants the infrastructure for such a system to reside separately from the production systems yet be linked in real-time for the most up-to-date info without regard to time of day or other scheduled business processes. IT would wake up ecstatic to have a system built on trusted data that is already flowing in and out of the company rather than one that requires transformation or cleansing. And IT wants to deliver such a system fully loaded, with data from as much as possible of past activity so applicable dashboards may be easily built and used immediately.
Let us know what’s on your Dream Dashboard and watch this space to see your dreams come true soon!