Supply chain performance is crucial to the success of many companies.  The supply chain process contains many moving parts each dependent on the execution of the process that precedes it in the flow.  Every company employs some sort of system to monitor, manage and tune the complete process cycle. These systems employ everything from hand written reports to spreadsheets to elaborate dashboards.  Many times users need to link to multiple systems to get a complete understanding of what is happening—probably one of the highlights of your day: “Honey, guess what I got to do at work today?…Sift through tons of spreadsheets and dashboards to figure out what’s going on at work.” (End of sarcastic voice).  Needless to say, it doesn’t feel like time well spent, but you know that there are important performance issues hidden within the data.

At VisualCue we have been working with several clients that are facing these problems.  We found that most processes can be broken down into major steps, each of which has significant impact on the complete process.  As a result of these engagements we have created a process management tile that provides immediate visibility to the performance of every order currently in the pipeline.


As you can see above, each step in the process is represented by a clearly understandable icon, that we call a Cue.  As an online retailer customer order works its way through the fulfillment cycle (order receipt and payment processing, picking, packing, staging, shipping and delivery) the individual cues keep the user appraised of the status of the order. By comparing the actual time needed to process each major step of the order against the established KPIs the cue representing the current process will change color, blue means the process is beating expectations, green denotes the process is meeting expectations, yellow is below expectations and red is critically below expectations.  The changing colors provide a high level of visibility to performance. In this case, we see the following scenario take place by looking at the main circular portion of the tile: Customer placed an order and it was processed quickly, but picking had a delay. Packing and staging both went smoothly, but we had a delay in shipping. Although we have confirmation that the customer received the order, the overall time it took to deliver was too long. We can see even more detail about this order if we look at the space below (from left to right): we see that this order had 12 items shipped in 3 boxes and was an Expedited order. The online retailer can now understand even more context, namely, this was a large order size and it was expedited—they can now decide that it may be worthwhile to reach out to this customer and offer them a discount on their next purchase since their expedited order took longer than expected. If we look beyond just one tile and at a series of tiles, we can see that where we might have recurring issues that need to be addressed. It might be that we have a large number of orders exhibiting a yellow color during the picking process or a number of orders exhibiting a red color during the staging process, all of which can lead to the identification of areas requiring corrective actions. Using the same concept, we can create an additional tile if we recognize the need to have more information about any of the general steps highlighted in the original tile—a drill down that provides even more information to correctly address the problem at hand. Actions put into place will be become visible on the new tiles and, even more importantly, the overall affect of the changes will be seen in the business!

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