Doing it with Dashboards
The changed business model shifts the onus of managing the supply chain from the oil company to the BWs. The BWs don’t have the budgets to own, operate and manage massive ERP systems. This leads to:
- Improper planning, leading to increased inventory cost
- Lack of visibility across sites
- Lack of analytical decision making and planning, leading to low service levels
However, it is possible for BWs to access advanced, cost-effective, collaborative and scalable suite of cloud-based Web applications that segment sites based on demand and the competitive landscape, provide dashboards with visibility into inventory, and use analytics to forecast demand. With the data and analytical engines now available, the BW will know, say, by location, exactly which products and their volumes are required. This will help them manage their scheduling at optimal costs.
The Vantage Point
The cloud-based solution has three advantages that BWs would welcome. First, they don’t need to invest in owning or maintaining IT infrastructure (hardware, software, security, backups, disaster management and IT skills), thereby staying asset light. They can leave this to the service provider, who will ensure that the latest infrastructure, technology and skills are always well within the reach of the BW.
Second, the BW does not have to worry about scaling. A BW can freely grow or shrink the number of retail locations without having to worry about how to scale the IT infrastructure or what to do with redundant IT assets.
Finally, given that cloud infrastructure is usage-based, the BW will pay only for what is used, making efficient use of budgets.
An additional advantage of a cloud-based solution is that it will always have high availability and reliability, which would not be the case in the event the BW decides to set up its own IT infrastructure and manage it.
The BW system architecture would be one where data from retail sites would be acquired by the BW using Web-based forms and/or automated inventory population on a scalable cloud platform. The BW would access this information on a rich visual dashboard capable of driving accurate decisions.
The dashboard would offer several capabilities and advantages to BWs:
- Ability to manage wet and dry
- Help make decisions based on business rules and policy that are aligned with service levels
- Continuous review policies for high demand and high variability in demand stations
- Periodic review polices for medium demand and variability stations
- Accessible on the Internet, anytime, anywhere on any device
- Analytics layer to plan and schedule deliveries variability in demand stations