Spreadsheets Risky for Supply Chain

Relying on spreadsheets is risky business for your supply chain

co-author Celso Batista

It’s safe to say that most of us have built a quick and dirty spreadsheet in our careers that then morphs into a business critical manual model from which key decisions are made. It’s also safe to say that we have all forgotten to pull down a formula, hard coded cells, or simply made a spreadsheet-breaking mistake. In fact it’s estimated that 88% of spreadsheets have errors in them, causing significant business losses.

What can you do about this challenge? In a recent product implementation in one of the world’s largest cheese producers we made many of these error-prone spreadsheets completely disappear. We did this by bringing their data into the Austin Data Labs (ADL) platform and creating better predictive models, giving them the power of data science-driven decisions that have a direct positive impact on their supply chain and revenue.

We incorporated their milk forecasting model, production line level stream returns model, IBP management reporting dashboards, as well as a number of other key models and spreadsheets. Instead of compiling many different data sets to get an updated business view in the morning, there is now a sequence of automatic data science-driven updates being made in the background. This means that each login to our ADL platform answers every important question, eliminating the need to hop from manual spreadsheet to manual spreadsheet. Questions like “How did our sales progress yesterday? Should we expect supply shortages for today´s orders? Do we have additional availability to communicate with the sales team? Is any one of my sites dealing with over storage? Is there an impactful gap into milk supply that would require an end-to-end IBP replan for the next couple of weeks? Do we have a significant business deviation from what we established budget wise?” are all answered within one intelligent system.

These supply chain questions mostly depend on big data samples, all coming from different origins. Simply setting this puzzle up for a sneak peek using spreadsheets could take hours away from a senior planner’s main duties. Identifying the most important questions and providing the right data to drive effective strategy and decision-making is what will set an effective company apart, and Excel can’t give you power. Data science and AI can, though.

Apart from reducing errors. our B2B AI and Data Science SaaS products have a number of other benefits:

  • Elimination of spreadsheet based models frees up time to focus on data-driven insights and predictions that add value
  • Common data in ADL and previous spreadsheet models means no need to manually update multiple places
  • Centralizes tools into one source of truth which improves user adoption as the powerful software becomes a one-stop shop
  • Having that single source of truth prevents conflicts driven by disparate spreadsheet management styles and disparate information
  • Improves business process and governance
  • Provides proper timing between available information and decision-making opportunities

Want to find out how our products can free you from the slog of spreadsheets?

Ask for a demo today!

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