What happens when your star employee quits? In this week’s Supply Chain Talk, Arkieva CEO Harpal Singh discusses the importance of having a data repository for supply chain planning.

supply chain data repository and data warehousing

Store the Knowledge, So You Don’t Have to Rediscover it

If you ask the management in any company about their most important asset, chances are they will say the knowledge of their employees. Yet most companies have no idea if their organizational knowledge went up or down last year. In fact, few companies (if any) actually measure their organizational knowledge.

Supply chain planning deals with uncertainty and making consistently good decisions as conditions change. This is not something that can be codified completely in computer systems and procedures.

Computers don’t handle uncertainty very well

However, good supply chains codify as much of the relevant experiential knowledge as possible so that each crisis can be approached in a systematic way.

[Read Previous: Supply Chain Talk: Using Excel for Planning – 4 Telltale Signs That You’ve Pushed Excel to The Limits ]

Reasons for building a data repository for supply chain planning

The sad truth is, it is people that accumulate knowledge, and that knowledge is lost when companies reorganize or trim their staff. To avoid this happening again and again, some of the better run supply chains have built a data repository to collect and maintain supply chain planning information.

They do this for two reasons:

  1. Supply chain planning is inherently data intensive, and people need tools to sort through the data to isolate the relevant information. Summaries and aggregation of ERP data are not always easily and directly accessible from the corporate data warehouse. The supply chain repository acts as the buffer and helps to insulate the data warehouse from user intensive requirements.
  2. Most databases in a company deal with storing data about things that have happened in the past. They do not capture and maintain the exceptional rules and the procedures for systematically dealing with issues, and are usually not designed to keep planning scenarios and options. When generating a plan, a number of different scenarios are usually generated and compared before a final plan is decided. The discarded versions of the plans are usually in the corporate data warehouse but can be useful for later inspection if circumstances change.
[Related: Supply Chain Talk: 3 Challenges Supply Chain Executives Cannot Ignore ]

Managing data warehouses in supply chain planning

Purists will argue that the corporation should have a single data warehouse. However, this is impractical. The corporate data warehouse is normally the “system of record” and needs to operate with auditable rules that maintain data integrity. The planning data repository (sometimes also called a data mart) is designed to extract data from the corporate systems and present it to users easily. The only data that it maintains is the data that does not belong in the corporate data warehouse.

The proof is of course in the proverbial pudding. Our experience shows that the companies that use a repository to maintain some of the organizational supply chain knowledge weather the storm of downsizing and reorganization a lot better than the companies that don’t.

The supply chain talk question: how is your organization building a supply chain knowledge repository?

Have a supply chain topic that you would like us to discuss? Join the Arkieva Supply Chain Talk with Arkieva CEO Harpal Singh. Add a comment below or send a tweet to @Arkieva with #ArkievaSCT, or email editor@arkieva.com.

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