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Improve supply chain processes with SAP analytics tools

Weaving manufacturing, logistics, warehousing and supply chain processes together can improve business operations. Here are analytics tools that can help.

Connecting manufacturing, logistics, warehousing and supply chain processes provides an opportunity for manufacturers...

to cut costs, become leaner and be responsive to business challenges. Fortunately, technology in general, and ERP in particular, can help make this a reality by ensuring the availability of not only real-time analytics but also predictive analytics.

Innovative technology such as the Internet of Things (IoT) and platforms such as SAP S/4HANA and SAP Business Network, as well as affordable sensor technology and a slew of logistics and supply chain analytics tools are helping make possible "connected" manufacturing, logistics and supply chain processes. By providing analytics capabilities, SAP analytics tools in S/4HANA, existing dashboards and key performance indicators (KPIs), cloud products and data visualization tools take supply chain optimization a step further.

Let's look at SAP analytics tools that can help planners tightly weave manufacturing, logistics and supply chain processes together.

SAP Integrated Business Planning

SAP Integrated Business Planning (IBP) -- which provides functionality for sales and operations, demand, inventory, supply and response planning -- and SAP Supply Chain Control Tower can help supply chain planners accurately and collaboratively develop sales, inventory and operations plans.

IBP uses pattern recognition algorithms in combination with statistical forecasting algorithms to develop a more accurate picture of short-term demand, allowing companies to make better decisions about when and where to manage product replenishment.

IBP's Supply Chain Control Tower, which is available only in the cloud, combines data from several systems, including SAP ERP, non-SAP systems, and third-party systems, and uses the data in conjunction with signals from IoT devices in manufacturing, logistics and related information networks. It acts as a supply chain collaboration hub for all stakeholders to simulate, visualize, analyze and predict the information and possible outcomes they need to know to resolve issues and remediate risks, as well as to improve business performance. With Supply Chain Control Tower, cause-and-effect and what-if simulations help planners gain insight into how a disruption to manufacturing, logistics, transportation or supply chain operations will affect business. These supply chain analytics enable planners to ensure corrective and preventive measures are put in place to eliminate or minimize factors leading to supply chain nightmares.

SAP Supply Chain Info Center

SAP Supply Chain Info Center (SCIC), in conjunction with the planning and optimization capabilities of SAP Advanced Planning and Optimization (APO), can help improve forecast accuracy and ensure inventory availability. Because APO did not come with pre-delivered reports or analytics, all supply chain reporting was developed as custom reporting in Business Warehouse (BW). SCIC is an on-premises add-on that lets planners analyze APO data in real time while leveraging the data crunching power of S/4HANA. SCIC provides analytics with dashboards and KPIs for four critical business functions.

The available analytics are Forecast Accuracy, Supply Projection, Stock Coverage and Capacity Analysis. SCIC uses data from APO's Demand Planning (DP) and Supply Network Planning (SNP), enabling planners to make more informed decisions about replenishments and transfers throughout the supply chain. There are at least 25 pre-delivered KPIs in SCIC that focus on demand and supply; a few more KPIs cover Global Available-to-Promise (GATP) scenarios. Going forward, SCIC isn't expected to get further attention as SAP showcases IBP as the primary supply chain analytics tool.

Supply Chain Control Tower and SCIC are both designed for use with SAP Fiori, so reports and charts on mobile devices display a familiar look and feel.

SAP Lumira

SAP Lumira is available as a highly intuitive analytics tool for all platforms that lets planners access, transform and visualize data from various sources so they can make better business decisions. Lumira is positioned as self-service software that requires little or no training. With Lumira, planners can gain in-depth insights into supply chain and logistics data. Lumira also facilitates infographics creation for highly visual, non-interactive narratives.

These SAP analytics tools can help planners improve manufacturing operations by facilitating the connection of manufacturing, logistics and supply chain processes. As Hans Thalbauer, senior vice president, extended supply chain at SAP aptly said in an email: "The key will be that all of this is not only focused on creating better and real-time analytics, but that predictive analytics is being used in order to significantly improve decision-making processes."

Next Steps

Understand SAP HANA analytics

Get tips for improving the SAP supply chain

Read a guide to SAP analytics

SAP BI users can gain more power using SAP Crystal Reports for Enterprise

This was last published in September 2015

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