In this digital age where terms such as ‘Big Data’ and ‘The Internet of Things’ are banded about, it’s easy to get overwhelmed and find it difficult to ‘see the wood for the trees’ so to speak. With all this data now available to us, how can you harness it and use it to your advantage so that you can make more informed business decisions?

It’s certainly not practical or achievable to look at every single ‘byte’ of data available on a ‘bit’ by ‘bit’ basis. However, a good starting point is to understand what your ‘own’ businesses KPI’s are. If you don’t know what they are, then you need to determine them!

Your key performance indicators need to have relevance and be truly meaningful to your business. Once you have determined your KPI’s you should aim to have real-time analytical dashboards based around them so that even the most complex data can be quickly and easily interpreted.

Best practice is to have a single dashboard that shows top level statistics of all the activity within your supply chain. Information displayed in this way is helpful as it’s easy to digest but it can also be easily shared with other stakeholders within your business.

More often than not, management executives do not have the time to sift through numerous reports in different styles and formats to get to the relevant statistics. Pulling all of your data together in a single location, with the key performance indicators at the forefront, is more valuable and helps management teams make more informed decisions, and make them quickly!

Here are 7 key features that make for a ‘top-notch’ supply chain management dashboard:

  1. Your information should be pulled from live, real-time data.

Data should be as up-to-date as possible because if it’s old it’s most likely inaccurate. Get your supply chain dashboards to draw data directly from source such as an ERP system. Your software vendor will need to be experienced at integrating and digesting many different data formats and be able to present it back in a uniform and simple way.

  1. Information should be customised to your individual businesses KPI’s.

Your supply chain dashboard should focus on statistics that are closely linked to your key performance indicators. If you have too much information on too many dashboards it will cause you to wander off track and miss the key issues. Here are some metrics that our customers often use on their dashboards:

  • Purchase order compliance
  • Production and shipment lead times
  • Deliveries on time and in full
  • Price variance
  • Quality compliance
  • Ethical risk rating/compliance of factories/suppliers


  1. The ability to easily ‘drill down’ to see underlying data

Often you will want to delve deeper into the data or slice it up in a different way to get a better perspective.  The most powerful dashboards will include the ability to do this by a simple ‘click’ on a graph or table to drill down further into the data of problem areas.

  1. Secure views based on user profiles and access.

It’s almost certain that you will have some levels of sensitive data, so make sure you can easily set-up and customise user profiles based on user level and required access in line with management status.

  1. Be helpful in driving decisions and focusing on tasks

Your dashboard design should present the key data you need to analyse in order to make decisions or focus actions that need to be carried out in order of priority. This could be anything from purchase orders that need approval, to orders that are behind schedule and need expediting, or follow up visits required at source factories as a result of a non compliance following an audit.

  1. Collaborative working with vendors and suppliers with shared screens

Your dashboards will most likely hold information useful to many stakeholders or partners within your supply chain network. If you can easily share your supply chain performance dashboards with suppliers they can act swiftly on your key areas of measurement and therefore provide you with a better service. As an example, it’s beneficial to the process if both buyers and suppliers have visibility of delays in invoicing, these can then be resolved before negatively impacting both yours and your suppliers’ operations.

  1. Accessible via mobile devices and gadgets

Hand-held ‘smart’ devices are here to stay and are becoming increasingly integrated in terms of operational activity. There is a growing expectation that having access to real-time information should be possible from virtually any location, any time-zone and allow the updating of information from any mobile device. Therefore dashboards need to ideally work seamlessly on many different platforms.

What’s the end result?

Implementing these key features into your supply chain dashboards would put your business in the advantageous position of being able to proactively solve problems across your supply chain network of vendors, suppliers and partners. A supply chain dashboard of this calibre would mean you could more easily identify and continuously improve operations within your business, putting your supply chain in the best possible shape to exceed in today’s competitive marketplace.