The combination of advanced technology and ever-evolving consumer demand has earned the supply chain group a seat at the executive roundtable as an integral part of a company’s success. A 2012 Bloomberg BusinessWeek survey reported that companies are using business analytics to aid in decision-making to a much greater degree than in the past, and that businesses that use analytics more extensively believe that it improves their performance. As more detailed data becomes available, there will be increased inquiries to the supply chain team from finance, marketing, sales, customer service and strategic planning. 

KPMG’s 2013 Retail Industry Outlook survey highlights that data and analytics continue to add value: structured and unstructured data and analytics continue to play an integral role. A majority of the executives in this year’s survey use data and analytics to better understand consumers, as well as for branding, product management, and making better pricing decisions. Executives also say they continue to rely on data to drive operational excellence, gain actionable insights, and acquire customers. However, opportunities for improvement exist as more than half of survey participants believed that their company’s management team and workforce have an average or average-to-low analytical literacy, some indicating that they are lagging behind their competitors when it comes to utilizing analytics. 

Only 12% of survey respondents report that there is high analytics literacy within their organization. 

Parcel spend is receiving a tremendous amount of attention at the executive level due to the increasing role parcel shipping is playing in today’s supply chain. 

Some questions that CFO’s are asking of our clients Supply Chain teams…: 
• What percentage of costs will your group be able to drive out of our parcel network in 2013/2014 with your current resources?
• Do you have the tools necessary to conduct detailed analysis to support these complex optimization efforts? 
• How do you identify opportunities available in the parcel industry to improve our network efficiency and reduce costs?
• Do you have access to parcel industry intellectual property to understand how other companies are reducing cost and improving service?
• Do you have a comprehensive parcel network strategy to ensure our parcel contracts support our long-term shipping strategy and are world class from a pricing perspective?
• Do you have access to all fields of data available from the parcel carriers today? 
• What were our largest accessorial areas for last year’s parcel spend? (Address correction, dim weight, extended delivery area)
• If we were considering closing two warehouses, could you confidently recommend the two facilities? What would be service impact on the two closed facilities shipments being shipped out of the remaining facilities? 
• Do you have a comprehensive audit for all parcel carrier services that includes validation of every charge, service level, accessorial, and delivery parameter? 
• Do you have a closed-loop invoice exception management process that enables up-front credit reconciliation with each carrier while maintaining complete network visibility? (process stops short-paying of invoices)
• Do you regularly assess your parcel network to identify trends, as well as understand the financial and service impact of changes to your parcel network?
• Do you have powerful intuitive tools that enable quick, reliable analysis of your parcel network at the package level?
• What type of advanced modeling tools and detailed data do we need to drive accurate financial analysis to drive decision making?
• What percentage of our parcel invoices are allocated to cost centers without our accounting department needing to manually research?

Kevin Marshall, Vice President at Green Mountain Consulting, can be reached or 214.673.5465. Kevin also serves as President of ISM-Dallas Institute for Supply Management. Green Mountain Consulting provides our clients with a customized, sustainable parcel spend management solution. GMC currently manages over $2.5 billion in parcel annually. GMC’s business model is to strategically partner with the mega volume parcel shipper by becoming an extension of their existing resources, learning their business, and working weekly to deliver value within a sustainable parcel spend management solution. Link to a two minute GMC overview video: