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How Power BI Can Modernize Supply Chain Planning

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insightsoftware is a global provider of reporting, analytics, and performance management solutions, empowering organizations to unlock business data and transform the way finance and data teams operate.

L’application de l’ANC 2020-01

Forward thinking CIOs, CTOs, and business professionals have long leaned on Microsoft Power BI for its expansive analytics capabilities. As a leading Business Intelligence (BI) tool, Power BI has helped many organizations glean insights to help stay on top of Supply Chain processes. But Power BI’s capabilities fell short when it came to enabling Supply Chain Planning (SCP) and Forecasting.

SCP, however, is critical to succeed in today’s turbulent, supply chain challenged world. In fact, a recent McKinsey survey found that “Supply chain leaders know that current (planning) methods need to change,” with…

90% of Supply Chain leaders looking to upgrade and modernize their planning software…

With so many options to choose from, many are finding success in a historically “read-only” tool: Power BI. Power BI for Supply Chain Planning? It’s more plausible than you might think.

Planning for Supply Chain: What’s Next

McKinsey also found that…

over 70% of organizations utilize spreadsheets for Supply Chain Planning.

But, not surprisingly, these same orgs reported getting bogged down by the disconnected and manual aspects we are all too familiar with. While spreadsheets provide a flexible valuable resource to input information, they fall short in the communication process. Thus, processes like Supply Chain Planning in Excel are throttled as a result.

Organizations understand the need for modernizing their Planning software (and chances are you do, too), but remain unsure where to turn. Should they bet on another pricey upgrade to their tried and true legacy system, or try a new bespoke planning newcomer? Businesses need to upgrade their SCP software soon or risk not fulfilling customers’ needs, falling behind competition, or missing out on market opportunities.

Interestingly, the concept of leveraging Excel’s and Power Pivot’s big brother, Power BI, has gained traction in recent years. Modern Power BI ecosystem solutions (aka add-ons) that allow users to enter and save data, not just analyze it, are making collaborative data entry across large numbers of users, versions, and data a reality. By capitalizing on existing investments and skills sets in Power BI, and extending it to enable planning and write-back, businesses are connecting data silos and unifying supply chain data, tools, and people — thus expediting the Supply Chain Planning process.

Collaborative Planning & Real-time Write-back

With Planning and Write-back in Power BI, not only SCP process personnel but employees across the organization can contribute their input to impact demand forecasting and projected sales, all while incorporating extenuating market conditions. Front-line employees can enter details they are responsible for, do what-if scenarios, enter driver-based values, and collaborate in real-time so that results across groups, departments, even regions across the world combine and update in real-time — improving the demand planning process tenfold.

Write-back in Power BI is particularly helpful. As values are entered, updated, or driven/triggered, based on an associated value, write-back (i.e. saving resulting values and results back to a consolidated, structured, and consistent underlying database) in Power BI updates related downstream numbers in real-time, helping employees coordinate the sourcing of materials and goods based on new entries, driven by the previous demand planning conducted. Both monitoring and driving supply chain performance in real time in one place has never been easier!

Sales and Operations Planning Made Easier

The parallel and related process of Sales and Operations Planning (S&OP) is often, also, not as modernized as it could be, and thus may be affecting an organization’s supply chain planning. Connecting planning across teams (think: sales, operations,, finance, etc…) across an organization, leaders must coordinate their varying efforts to determine an effective business strategy directly in relation to their supply chain.

Reliance, however, on disconnected and outdated applications make streamlining these tightly influenced planning processes a challenge. By enhancing Power BI with Planning and Write-back, teams can bring siloed data from S&OP and Supply Chain Planning (SCP) together through well-supported integration across Excel, Azure, and even other major 3rd party data systems (SAP, Oracle, Snowflake, etc…).

Paul Leech, Senior Data Analyst of Mater, said,

Adding Write-back functionality to any Power BI dashboard is just a matter of drag and drop. The configuration settings for the extension object provide great flexibility, allowing you to customize how the end user will interact with the dashboard.

Leveraging Power BI for Supply Chain Planning

The entire world now understands the importance of Supply Chain. Supply Chain “Planning” is a crucial piece of the process. Coordinating the flow of goods while also balancing out supply and demand is no easy task on its own — but streamlining the Planning and Forecasting can improve the process and experience for all involved. Leveraging Power BI’s dynamic dashboards opened up a whole new world of visual analysis possibilities; the next frontier is going beyond analysis to bring analysis, planning, decisions, and actions together in one place.

Leading organizations are taking their Power BI further, leveraging it for planning and write-back, to enable their teams across S&OP, SCP, and Demand Forecasting, to collaborate in real-time in response to ever-changing circumstances.

To learn how Power BI can modernize your organization’s Supply Chain Planning, check out the capabilities that the Power ON Visual Planner toolkit provides.

Until next time…

Power ON