Food For Thought | Unlock your competitive advantage

Author: Gert-Jan van Fessem

Within the food-industry the registration of datapoints are usually fragmented across various applications and levels within an organization. Now is the time to unlock their potential! Registration of these datapoints is done for quality purposes, including tracking and tracing of customer specific needs or other external parties. However, almost none of these registered datapoints are currently being leveraged to gain a competitive advantage. Now is the time!

Since the registration of datapoints is in place for over twenty years there is also a lot of historical information available. Usually, the usage of Business Intelligence (BI) and subsequently dashboarding is initiated by the controlling-department, which implies a strong focus on financial data (e.g. open line items / working capital). It might also be used by the sales-department to visualize information. In both cases it is actually another interpretation of an Excel sheet.

To summarize the above, within the food-industry the registration of data is in place for decades, the actual usage is limited from both a functional- as well as a source-perspective. Data can be used on all levels within the organization, strategical, tactical, and operational respectively.

We would like to explain the types of source data that are typically found within the food-industry. Secondly, we introduce our best practices and how to get the most insights out of your data. Finally, we will elaborate on the usage of data within the various levels of an organization.

Within a typical organization within the food-industry data is available within multiple sources e.g.:

  • Financial accounting;
  • HR (including time writing);
  • ERP (sales, purchase, planning, quality);
  • MES (stock movement including reception, production and shipping of goods);
  • PLC (machine data).

Multiple sources can also be applicable if the Financial accounting application differs per business unit (e.g. for some units it’s SAP, and others it’s Exact). The dashboards are on top of the financial accounting data per application, instead of one dashboard that consolidates all data from various applications within the same functional data domain.

Food For Analytics’ vision is to have all data available, in a scalable, flexible, and robust environment, in order to provide your organization a competitive advantage! We provide an out-of-the-box data & analytics-platform with all necessary data, not restricted to a specific source application. For example, we combine the prior mentioned SAP and Exact financial data which results in a holistic overview of your financial position across your organization without any blind spots. Which makes additional Excel sheets obsolete.

We would like to extend the usability of the data, a short example with sales data, which is available in the ERP application (order data, shipping data) as well as the financial accounting application (invoice data, payment data, open line items). When we use sales data out of the financial accounting application, we have insights in the postings per invoice and payment item. However, this is on an aggregated level (invoice) and the level of detail is limited as sales-journal postings are almost always consolidated on general ledger (GL) account level. It provides some level of insights. However, we don’t have all the insights that are possible, there is so much more!

What if we enrich the data with sales data from the ERP-application, providing us with insights on the lowest level of registered datapoints. So not only the invoice address, but the various delivery addresses. Next, providing the order date, shipment date and delivery date in addition to the invoice date. And not only the total gross sales, but insights in the volumes and prices per order line. This includes possible promotions with the adjusted prices and the extended volumes per customer. Just a few examples on how you can enrich your data and get to a totally new level of insights.

Another example within the sales domain are claims and complaints; instead of an amount on a credit note you can have insight in why the customer claimed an item or order. And as a cherry on top; this information is historically available, providing you with direct insight a customer and item level. Either on an aggregated or detailed level. Instead of checking your figures with historical data in separate sheets you have direct insights in multiple years and can, for example, compare the Christmas season sales side-by-side with no effort at all.

The food-industry is used to the peak seasons during Easter and Christmas, but there is more; what if we combine the data with external sources such as bank holidays, weather data, events and other relevant information which all impact sales-activities during the year. Just think about the competitive advantage that you will achieve by combining both internal- and external -data sources!

When the source data is clear we need to visualize this information, Food For Analytics can provide the requested information in a out-of-the-box data & analytics-platform and leave it up to you, or we can help you out by setting up the reports and dashboards. Reports and dashboards can be in various formats, depending on the user / data consumer. In an industrial environment a paper report might be required in order to inform the co-workers on the floor. In the canteen some KPI’s regarding progress / volume suffices. Where management would like to have the data available on a higher level of aggregation in a desktop / mobile device format.

In this blog we have talked about the sources and insights that can be delivered and why it is so important to combine and align the information needs across the various levels within your organization. On a tactical level the information can be presented in dashboards with specific information and KPI’s per site / location / geographical area. On a strategical level the information needs and KPI’s are aggregated over all data sources / locations and presented in the desired format.

Do you want your competitive advantage yesterday?! Reach out to us!