Fully understanding the data behind your inventory management practices is essential to running an efficient and modern supply chain operation. Across every touch point, data provides actionable intelligence that can help any supply chain provider reduce costs, streamline operations, and maximize potential. If you want to set up your supply chain for success, follow these four easy steps to start maximizing your network’s potential.

1. Develop an Implementation Strategy

Getting the most out of your supply chain operations begins with a carefully implemented optimization strategy. Like nodes in a network, each component of your supply chain and inventory management operations needs to be aware of and in communication with the other nodes to keep traffic flowing and to immediately address any concerns. 

2. Choose Key Metrics

Begin by choosing three to five key metrics that effectively capture the essence of your mission, such as producers in the supply chain, your warehouses, or the end consumption points like retail stores. From there, factor in metrics that have a direct impact on your business, like seasonality for warehouse operations or your inventory turnover. 

Ultimately, this data will help you identify demand: who in your network has a specific need, like on-time, in-full delivery? With proper demand planning and forecasting, your supply chain operations can turn data points and metrics into a comprehensive forecast of the future. Many modern software solutions include AI and machine-learning capabilities to improve decision making and weigh any necessary compromises and tradeoffs. 

3. Identify the Low-Hanging Fruit

From there, you can begin to identify the low-hanging fruit of your inventory management operations. Your data will inevitably point to particular products that are either rapidly flying off the shelves or that just haven’t resonated with customers and are taking up valuable warehouse real estate. Starting with these readily apparent items, you can follow the bread crumbs leading to a proper inventory management strategy. 

4. Use Data Visualizations to Take Action

Brought to life through data visualizations, you can quickly and clearly identify areas of waste, opportunity, and improvement in your supply chain. No matter the specific determining factor, properly understanding your data and its full context ensures time, money, and resources are not being squandered. By ignoring or underutilizing your data and the story it’s telling, you risk missing current and future opportunities that are waiting to be taken advantage of. 

With a comprehensive strategy to assess, analyze, and implement decisions drawn directly from your data, your supply chain operations will have improved inventory management capabilities that can ensure the long-term success of your organization. To be sure, your customers, clients, and supply chain partners will appreciate having access to actionable intelligence that ultimately improves speed, lowers costs, and reduces waste.

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