04 Apr 2017

How Tableau is Transforming Supply Chain Analytics

Andy Birtwistle

The Times' Raconteur Special Report stated that 56% of businesses are using Big Data to improve Supply Chain visibility. Results of a Gartner report, published in the same article, claim that 57% of chief executives ranked supply chain optimisation and traceability as a first priority for technology investment.

With data visualisations from technologies like Tableau, companies can gain full visibility of their end-to-end Supply Chain, tracing products by mapping geolocation and even temperature. These technologies are transforming how Supply Chain management decisions are being made.

In my blog post Why Supply Chain Analytics is the Future, I emphasised the importance of data and analytics for efficient Supply Chain processes: "Organisations need to release the value from their data by turning it into information, insight and knowledge. From this improved knowledge and understanding of their business, organisations will be able to make quicker and more accurate decisions, gaining competitive advantage. They will become more agile."

To give an example, when using Tableau within mature Supply Chain organisations, we've been able to identify inventory reduction opportunities of up to 40%. From our work with these organisations, here are 4 steps to get the edge from Supply Chain data and analytics:

  1. Reveal: import, clean-up and visualise Supply Chain data to analyse all areas of the Supply Chain.
  2. Diagnose: use intuitive dashboards to easily identify problem areas and root causes. With tools like Tableau, you don't have to be a data scientist to spot trends and spikes.
  3. Model: stimulate process improvements to compare Supply Chain policies and performance
  4. Track: set targets and develop a roadmap of improvements


Here are two examples of dashboards we've used to cut costs and improve operations. 

Image 1: Visualising inventory analyticsImage 2: Visualising conformance to plan

Image 1: Visualising inventory analytics, Image 2: Visualising conformance to plan

The first dashboard enables organisations to compare inventory levels over time to sales and stock targets, showing instantly that there's an opportunity to reduce inventory levels in the business.The second dashboard shows businesses whether they're adhering to plans and schedules. Visualising the Production Conformance to Plan and Schedule highlights the need for improved process adherence within the manufacturing execution processes. 


New analytical technologies are enabling better, faster and more transparent analysis of Supply Chain metrics. They are driving higher-level collaboration, greater insight and more informed decision making across the Supply Chain, everyday.

What type of reporting are you doing to monitor you supply chain? Comment below or to find out more, read The 5 visualisations Every Supply Chain Manager Needs.

Andy Birtwistle

About the author

Andy is head of Concentra’s Supply Chain practice. With 25 years of experience working as a supply chain professional he has experience across the oil, tobacco, pharmaceutical, Hi-tech and FMCG sectors. Andy’s most recent project was the design, development and deployment of a global Supply Chain Analytics capability which won the 2014 Supply Chain Excellence award for technology. Andy is currently developing the Supply Chain Analytics Hub, bringing together insight from supply chain, analytics and technology to help drive fact based decision making across the end to end supply chain.