April 25, 2019

Five Steps You Can Take to Achieve ‘Data Nirvana’

Supplier data nirvana

There are many benefits to be had from redefining the way you manage your supplier data. Below are five steps you can take to greatly improve your supplier master data management processes and reach the hallowed state of data nirvana.

Definition

The first step on your path towards data heaven is building out and defining your standards to support process design, ownership and management.

By data standards we’re in effect referring to ‘agreements’ that are understood by all relevant stakeholders and which make it easier for people across the organisation to manage and use data.

The key here is to remember that what you’re aiming for is greater interoperability – in other words making it possible for data to be used by different systems.

You need to give some thought to the ‘ecosystem’ that each standard will operate in. Will they only apply to internal processes inside your organisation, or will they also apply externally to your suppliers?

Additionally you also need to define how your data standards will be managed, maintained and updated in the future. Who will look after that process?

Data consolidation

The next step is to cleanse your data. Not necessarily the most fun task but certainly a very important one. This involves correcting, consolidating, de-duplicating and enriching your existing supplier data.

In order for data to provide real value to your organisation, it needs to be clean and reliable. Supply chains need to be proactive and able to predict future trends (to the best of their ability) in order to operate effectively, and this requires data analytics.

However if your data quality is poor then this process is not going to work as it should. The important thing isn’t how much information you’ve got, but how high its quality is.

Data governance

Once you’ve defined your supplier data standards and fixed your existing data, the next thing to do is set out your data governance processes and who does what.

As touched upon above in step one, definition, you must establish roles and responsibilities for people within your organisation. For example, there should be:

  • An executive ownership role – the person who will manage the strategy and delegate resources
  • A data owner – the person who will be responsible for implementing that strategy and managing change
  • Data managers – people carrying out day-to-day management tasks
  • Subject matter experts – people with more technical understanding, who really ‘understand’ the data
  • Data users – including analysts and developers

Alongside all of these roles sits automation. Automated processes can be introduced once the necessary overarching supplier data management standards have been defined to make data consolidation easier.

Integration

In many ways, the steps outlined above – definition, cleansing and governance – are important because they help you reach the point whereby you can begin to easily connect business processes and integrate data across the organisation.

Integrating your internal systems doesn’t just let you share supplier data; it also lets internal stakeholders actually use that data to great effect.

Then, further down the line and with the aid of bots and automation, you can begin to benefit from allowing external integration and collaborative data sharing as well.

Digitalisation

Ultimately, when we refer to data nirvana, we’re referring to the benefits that come from fully utilising technological processes (such as machine learning) to manage aspects of supplier master data management that can (and should) be automated – aspects such as support, approvals and data cleansing.

This frees up people within your organisation to focus on more important high-level projects, rather than spending time working on more menial tasks, making your procurement and supply chain management functions more efficient.

By working your way through the steps above and making your overall supplier data management and procurement processes more intelligent and end-to-end, you have the ability that’s required to respond to changing market demands.

If you found this piece useful, make sure you read our full report on How to Reach the State of Supplier Data Nirvana here.

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