Supply Chain Analytics with Power BI - Saxon AI
Data Visualization / April, 14 2023

Supply Chain Analytics with Power BI 

Did you know that according to a survey by Gartner, 34% of supply chain leaders believe that the topmost strategic change supply chain organizations will face in 5 years is adapting to new technologies? However, there is a continual struggle to transform massive amounts of data into insightful knowledge—insights that can propel timely and accurate decisions. This blog will explore Power BI, how to leverage it in supply chain analytics, and its use cases. 

Role of BI in Modern Supply Chain Analytics 

Interactive data visualization and analytics are hot topics for supply chain technologies, according to many leaders and decision-makers. Decision-makers can effectively manage the supply chain of their enterprise better by leveraging business intelligence and analytics to visualize data that makes it meaningful and readily accessible. Self-service features from platforms and tools like Power BI can enhance this. Power BI allows business and non-technical users to build their respective reports, conduct their own queries, and examine the significance and context of data. Moreover, data visualization also contributes to resilience building by providing additional context into the impact of potential future supply chain disruptions. 

Power BI is one platform that enables the integration of disparate data sources into coherent and interactive visualizations. Although enterprise resource planning (ERP) and materials requirement planning (MRP) software can provide snapshots of the supply chain, their usage alone is no longer sufficient. An analysis tool can complement ERP and MRP systems by consolidating dispersed data, removing silos between business functions, and uncovering insights. This is critical in multinational digital supply chains, where integrating massive datasets from disparate, fragmented sources is essential for maximizing commercial value. 

How to effectively use Power BI in supply chain analytics? 

When implemented correctly, Power BI gives a flexible way to visualize the operations and performance of the supply chain while also having the ability to interact with other programs, external apps, or online services, which includes the following: 

Collecting and processing data

For generating reports or visualizations, Power BI retrieves and processes the underlying data from a data source. For instance, you can use Power BI Desktop to connect to the data source, import the data, query it, and load it. 

Accessing real-time data 

Power BI consolidates diverse data sources into a single visualization or dashboard, enabling users to generate reports without requesting data access. If real-time information is necessary, you need a Power BI gateway to refresh the data. Cloud-based data tools such as Sharepoint and Azure SQL Database refresh reports automatically. 

Customizing reports and visualizations 

Customizing a warehouse KPI dashboard requires considering the business need, intended audience, and dashboard type. Not all metrics and KPIs must be tracked or visualized in a dashboard, and users may require various reports to measure different aspects of warehouse operations. Power BI dashboards provide flexibility through filter functionality and drag-and-drop features, allowing users to display, visualize, and analyze specific data without new dashboards or reports. 

Gaining actionable insights 

Power BI facilitates better business decision-making through its built-in prescriptive and predictive capabilities. The platform’s Data Analysis Expressions (DAX) feature enables users to analyze, compare, and forecast data across various categories and timeframes, such as product demand, costs, revenues, transactions, and inventories. The capabilities include analyzing customer behavior, benchmarking performance, finding buying trends, estimating delivery times, and identifying promotional opportunities. 

Tracking KPIs 

The metric feature of Power BI permits users to define and visualize KPIs and configure how they interact on the dashboard. This feature is handy for enterprises tracking their supply chain, as it is usually dispersed across multiple partners with different data sources and platforms. The priority here is linking data to critical success factors rather than having vast amounts of data to analyze. 

Visualizing data from various data sources

Since Power BI can enable data visualization from various sources, including non-SQL databases, CSV files, and Excel workbooks from platforms like SAP or Oracle ERP, it is helpful for different supply chain functions that use different data management tools. Power BI imports data from multiple sources before loading it into a dashboard, allowing for increased interactivity with the data. 

Use cases in supply chain management

Data and analytics are crucial for supply chains. Actually, 91% of surveyed business leaders mentioned that they are intently investing in capabilities to analyze data and automate business processes. Warehouse managers can use data to identify areas for improvement. Moreover, a warehouse KPI dashboard is also helpful for tracking goods movement, workload scheduling, equipment performance, and many more. The dashboard offers a single view accessible to warehouse managers from anywhere at any time. Complement this with business intelligence and advanced analytics capabilities, and it will augment supply chain management in further ways: 

  • Assess/calculate the operational capacity required. 
  • Detect risks and dangers by keeping an eye out for things that are temperature-sensitive or by keeping out expiring or obsolete materials. 
  • Prepare a better strategy, such as using detours during heavy traffic. 
  • Examine the prices paid for and the caliber of the products purchased from suppliers and vendors. 

Optimizing key areas in the warehouse using analytics  

Here are a few use cases for implementing Power BI in managing the supply chain: 

Logistics movement tracking 

Due to the ability to filter data by client, item, or location, it is now possible to track the movement of a particular inventory over time. By utilizing Power BI’s inactive model relationships in the date and fact tables, it is possible to analyze logistics data (such as predicting the products required for particular warehouses or knowing the status of dispatched products). It can even calculate the approximate shipping expenses. 

Keeping track of sales or orders 

The Power BI sales dashboard can extract data from a customer relationship management (CRM) system and render it in a more engaging manner. This dashboard can utilize data from invoice and order lines to analyze whether sales are increasing or decreasing. 

Verifying supplier compliance 

The data transformation function in Power BI, for instance, can be used to change datasets linked to time (i.e., requested and actual delivery dates) and amount (i.e., ordered and delivered quantity) and then be used to calculate on-time, in-full (OTIF) reports. 

Strategizing and scheduling production 

A Power BI-created Gantt chart adds interactivity to project management. It maximizes the effectiveness of the resources needed for production. You can also enhance the Power BI Gantt chart with add-ons like dynamic labels, which make it possible to emphasize or convey complex data without creating complicated DAX measurements. 

Management of inventories 

There are a variety of methods to track and report inventory. Power BI can compare sales data from several financial periods to the present warehouse stock levels using the appropriate DAX calculations. It can determine whether the warehouses have adequate stocks to meet current and future demand. You can use report slicers, as well, to filter inventory by category, lines of business, and geography. 

Monitoring quality control 

By comparing the downtime caused by defects and problems, you can use Power BI to evaluate supplier quality. Depending on the data, you can divide this into several periods and categories, such as defect type, vendor, facility, or material. 

Take away 

Undeniably, Power BI can empower staff members, managers, and business leaders with self-service data intelligence. They can integrate that same BI into their operations and customer touchpoints, facilitating short-term and long-term decisions that enhance their enterprise’s supply chain performance. With AI-enabled analytics and data modeling tools, it goes beyond data visualization. It is an intuitive platform that you can deploy to the cloud or on-premises and easily integrate with Microsoft Office and Azure solutions. 

Are you looking for a technology partner to optimize your supply chain agility for your enterprise? Check out Saxon’s services. Our specialists can evaluate your supply chain and offer tailored solutions to expedite your insights. Saxon’s Power BI platform-based InsightBox is any organization’s complete business intelligence solution. Get in touch with us for more information. 

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