May 17, 2020

How business intelligence can boost retail supply chain

business intelligence
Supply Chain Manageme
Freddie Pierce
2 min
Willem Schoeman, Parmalat National Distribution Manager
With most industries feeling the pressure of tough market conditions, more and more companies are investigating strategies to achieve cost savings and...

With most industries feeling the pressure of tough market conditions, more and more companies are investigating strategies to achieve cost savings and improved performance.

Various supply chain technologies work well to increase efficiency and reduce cost; but it requires the application of business intelligence solutions to take performance to the next level, according to Grant Marshbank, chief operation officer of VSc Solutions, and speaker at the upcoming annual SAPICS Conference.

“Business Intelligence Solutions are not new to South African organisations, but the approach of focusing on the supply chain whilst effectively integrating with any system – whether internal or external - redefines the potential value of what can be achieved,” he says, referring to a case study on Parmalat that will be presented at the SAPICS 2013* conference in June. 

As supply chain consultants to dairy giant Parmalat, the distribution solutions for Parmalat SA include best of breed routing and scheduling software, as well as planning software that allows for fast and effective daily distribution planning and visibility.

Whilst these solutions gave Parmalat an effective framework to manage its distribution, the addition of the Business Intelligence solution resulted in exponential efficiency gains and cost savings. “The potential value-add was only realised when the implementation of the Business Intelligence solution took the integration of these solutions to the next level,” says Marshbank.

According to Marshbank, most businesses operate against a set of measurable KPIs that are often run from various data centres and compiled into numerous spreadsheets. “This process is time consuming and is potentially inaccurate,” he notes.

However, by applying a business intelligence approach, an effective solution results that enables one to automatically extract data from any source (in any format) and populate such data into any array of formats/locations. “When coupled with powerful Web solutions and data warehousing tools, the result is a powerful integrated Business Intelligence solution,” he says.

“The Parmalat Business Intelligence solution allows KPIs to be viewed per annum, month or selected date range, as well as on a national, distribution centre or even employee level. The solution also provides analytical capabilities where users are able to drill down to the lowest level of detail on any dashboard, report or data set queried.”

Marshbank says the integrated Business Intelligence solution is relevant to any organisation regardless of size. “Integrated supply chain solutions today are undoubtedly the key to making inspired business decisions in the future,” he concludes.

*The presentation by Willem Schoeman (Parmalat National Distribution Manager) and Grant Marshbank (VSc Solutions COO) at the 35th Annual SAPICS Conference & Exhibition 2013 is entitled: Integrated Distribution and Business Intelligence Solutions:  A Practical Example. 

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Jun 10, 2021

Will Public Procurement Budgets Increase in 2021?

3 min
Often overlooked, government procurement professionals will play a critical role in helping communities, and local businesses recover from the pandemic

Procurement is more than just a private enterprise. COVID-19 reminded us that sourcing materials is an essential part of the government’s role. Throughout 2022, tiny departments sourced massive amounts of personal protective equipment (PPE), medical supplies, and emergency vaccines and testing kits. Even non-procurement professionals were pulled into the fray, as frantic timelines demanded nothing less. 

According to Celeste Frye, co-founder and CEO of Public Works Partners, the crisis brought procurement to the attention of skilled employees who had never considered it. As non-procurement personnel stepped up to help their coworkers, many found that they’d stumbled upon a critical and rewarding job. “Existing public employees have seen the essential nature of the work”, Frye said. “[They’ve] gained some critical skills and possibly [grown] interested in pursuing procurement as a longer-term career”. 

Small, Local Suppliers Take Charge

Frye, whose firm helps organisations engage stakeholders and develop long-term procurement strategies, thinks it well worth the effort to open one’s mind to new opportunities. Cooperative contracts, for instance, can help public departments and municipalities save money, time, and effort. By joining together with other towns or cities in the region, public procurement teams aggregate their purchasing power and can drive better deals. 

These cooperative contracts have the added benefit of advancing equity. Smaller suppliers that struggle to compete with established firms for government contracts can act as subcontractors, helping big suppliers fulfil bits of the project. Once they get their foot in the door, small, local, and disadvantaged suppliers can then leverage that government relationship to take on additional projects. 

Especially as governments start to pay attention to procurement resilience, public procurement departments must expand their requests for proposals (RFPs) to take into account innovative solutions and diverse suppliers. According to Frye, Public Works Partners—a certified female-owned firm—has benefitted from local and state requirements that specify diversity. 

Post-Pandemic Funding Swells Procurement Budgets 

And the pandemic won’t be the end of it. City governments need to build sustainable energy infrastructure such as solar panels, charging stations, and recycling plants, ensure that masks and medicines are never in short supply, and source new technologies to keep up with cloud and cybersecurity concerns. 

Public procurement budgets will likely increase to match demand. As Peter Ware, Partner and Head of Government at Browne Jacobson, explained, “in a non-pandemic world, the [U.K.] government spends on average around £290 billion on outsourced services, goods, and works...anywhere between 10% and 14% of Gross Domestic Product (GDP). Post-pandemic, city procurement will only increase as national governments provide local divisions with emergency funding.
And in truth, government employees might jump at the opportunity. Frye noted that public procurement could give immediate feedback on new programmes: “[Procurement] is where new laws and policies ‘hit the road’ and are implemented”, she said. “Professionals in these fields get the satisfaction of creating real change and seeing quantifiable outcomes of their work”.

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