How to Improve your Manufacturing Processes with Business Intelligence

Improve manufacturing processes with business intelligence

For manufacturers, having the right business intelligence on hand at the right time can eliminate the guesswork from decision making, offering real-time visibility into business processes so you can anticipate your next move. Think of it like looking through a windshield on a clear day when you’re driving, compared to navigating in the fog.

But producing timely, accurate and relevant business reports is not as easy as it sounds. In recent years, the amount of data available to most companies has exploded. Yet many organizations struggle to support, filter and manage it. Common issues include:

  • Lack of data-source integration. The ability to gather and compare data from multiple sources is vital to making real-time decisions. But with legacy systems, incompatible devices, and disparate databases, information tends to be held in siloes that don’t integrate well with each other and often require expensive middleware.
  • Scarce manpower. As your data expands beyond a single system, collecting, preparing and processing information for accurate reporting gets resource intensive and expensive. Staff members must have the IT skills needed to log into multiple systems, gather data and create relevant reports. Yet many manufacturers don’t have an IT department at all, or if they do, it often consists of a single individual wearing multiple hats.
  • Data warehousing costs rise. Storage costs increase significantly when you duplicate data across multiple sources.
  • Human error. When data must be moved manually, via exports from one system to another or from a system to a warehouse, there’s the potential for errors to creep in.

Benefits of business intelligence in manufacturing

When combined with the power of your ERP system, a modern data management solution can help manufacturers connect to and integrate information from any data source (including CRM or HR systems). By streamlining and accelerating data collection and analysis, you get the insights you need for effective decision-making.

Here are five ways you can benefit from a modern data management solution:

  1. Gain out-of-the-box insights. Pre-built analytics allow even non-tech savvy users to get crucial business intelligence fast.An effective data management solution makes information easily accessible via a central dashboard, with tabs geared to various business departments (from sales to finance, production and inventory). It gives you the ability to drill down into the performance of each department easily through relevant reports which can be accessed in minutes , rather than waiting days, weeks or months for data to be collated and analyzed.For instance, your chief financial officer can see at a glance how the company is performing and has immediate access to the latest data on net sales, gross margins and operating profits.

    Your production manager, on the other hand, can retrieve pre-built stats and reports on current order status, order fulfillment, efficiency and production costs. Better yet, information can be displayed in whatever format you choose, from charts to Excel-style tables.

  2. Automatically refresh your data. Your database gets constantly refreshed so that users can easily drill down to the transaction level at any time. For example, with a few clicks of a mouse, your CFO can access a detailed expense report; determine which customers are currently generating the lion’s share of orders and which are behind in payments; and assess how performance has changed over varying time periods.
  3. Eliminate reporting inconsistencies and data redundancy. The risk of data duplication is relatively high with conventional databases. When you automate data management, you ensure information is centralized and appears only once, reducing data redundancy. And because there is no need for manual data collection, the data stays clean, and you eliminate reporting inconsistencies.
  4. Reduce data warehousing costs. You now have one central source of information, allowing you to reduce redundant data infrastructures and drastically cut the cost of storing multiple documents in multiple different places.
  5. Get comprehensive real-time access to business intelligence. When information is centrally connected, it becomes easier to answer business questions in real-time. There’s no need for IT staff to export data out of one system, clean it, import it into another reporting tool and make it presentable to answer C-Suite’s inquiries. Reports can be shared, and they remain real-time.You can also opt to send those reports to specific groups (think C-suite execs or sales reps) either at specific times, on a recurring schedule, or once a certain threshold has been met (for example, when cash on hand gets below a specified amount).

    The upshot: your entire team has access to actionable insights that can help them improve decision-making and identify trends, threats and opportunities.

To find out more about the benefits of taking a digital approach to data management, check out this webinar.


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