Lynne Vogl, IL2000’s Director of BI and Reporting, uses her innate grasp of data to offer clients enhanced visibility and clarity to make better supply chain decisions.
To Vogl, life is all about data and the eternal search for answers. Including within the business environment.
“The meaning of data is a very big question,” begins Vogl. “The more properly organized your data, the more questions you can answer, and life is all about finding the right questions and answers. That's what data analysis, business intelligence and - towards the end of the process - business analysis are all about. It's about finding the right questions and then answering them with data.”
She warns that the process is not always straightforward. “Sometimes you have a question, so you’ll collect data to answer that question, but when you look at the data, the question you asked isn't the right question,” Vogl says. “Frequently, looking at the data available brings to mind additional questions and can even change the context of the original question. It's that exploration that is the core of what IL2000 does.”
Data tells the story
We asked Vogl if she preferred tables or graphs [see her answer in the info box to the right], and she answered that it depends on the context, but overall she prefers graphs, as that’s how she tells the story to customers.
“Part of business intelligence is taking that data and telling a story with it. You can't tell a story with tables. You tell a story with pictures and with words and contexts. In fact, we just expanded my department so we can think more strategically about our overall BI program as well as make performance and content improvements.”
Making better decisions
Vogl’s BI & Reporting team lies at the heart of IL2000’s capacity to give customers the insight they need to find better supply chain solutions.
She explains that the team’s expanded capacity will enable people, both internal and customers, to make better decisions. “Education in how to use our tools and content is key. Training will equip our internal and external teams to make informed decisions, drive prosperity, and improve results all around.”
IL2000’s website talks about Transforming your logistics data into actionable insight, but what does this really mean? Vogl breaks it down for us.
She explains that at the foundation, IL2000’s TMS and audit process are both information oriented. The data capture is strategically driven by the need for information and the questions the team and customers ask. The software is excellent at providing that information.
“Where my team comes in,” continues Vogl, “is taking that information and presenting it in a manner that speaks to our audience and enables our analysts to pull meaning and insight from the numbers. That insight lets our professionals advise our clients' data-driven decision-making and this in turn drives results.”
“Our value is in our data. That is the most important asset that IL2000 has, and the responsibility for safeguarding that data lies with my group and me.” – Lynne Vogl
Not the standard report
Part of Vogl’s job entails writing and adjusting customized reports and business intelligence data models for clients. “I take all of the data that IL2000 collects, and I make it available to our clients in a format that is understandable and accessible. I make sure the data addresses their particular business needs.”
If a 3PL offers BI at all, it’s usually a standard summary report. By contrast, IL2000 offers a robust selection of standard reports as well as weekly and daily reports specifically customized for its clients.
Vogl’s department stands ready to create fully customized BI reports and tools based on clients’ specific business problems.
“We have to strike a balance. On one side, we have standard reports and BI that 90% of shippers are going to need. On the other, we have our vision to go above and beyond expectations, addressing the specific concerns of our individual clients. We'll look at a problem through the lens of ‘Can the standard report address this issue?’ If it can, fantastic! We'll make it available. If it can't, my group will analyze the question, analyze the whole data set, and then produce a tool to address the issue.”
Vogl discusses the Center of Gravity Report as an example of how creating a specialized study can lead to better decision-making.
“I don't think I've ever heard of any other 3PL utilizing a center of gravity study in quite the way we do. Our clients have struggled with warehouse placement, so my team, in conjunction with our logistics engineers, developed the study to solve that specific problem. Now we can advise customers on the best geographical area to place a warehouse in order to meet their customers’ demands.”
“For us at IL2000 it’s more about what we do with the existing tools than it is about utilizing tools that aren't available to our competitors. We just use those tools better." – Lynne Vogl
The big cost struggle
Vogl says one of the biggest things clients need help with is getting visibility and control over controllable costs.
“Companies struggle to identify when they will incur controllable costs. Prior to having a relationship with IL2000, they'd get a surprise bill and wouldn't know that XYZ client required a liftgate or that it was in a high-cost delivery region. That's why one of our standard reports is accessorials by customer so businesses can look at their receivers and the accessorials that are incurred and see which ones are being accounted for at the time of shipping. This allows them to adjust their systems and us to profile so that they have fewer surprise bills.”
Another thing Vogl and her team track for customers is excessive cost, a metric that captures when customers use a carrier that costs more than the least cost carrier.
“For some of our clients, just being able to see where that is happening allows them to put controls in place. For example, one client dictated specific circumstances where the excessive cost was allowable. I created a report that not only showed the frequency and cost of those shipments but also allowed the customer to create a compliance program. This meant they could drive compliance using examples of when their teams incurred excessive costs that fell outside of those parameters.”
I'd love to give one example, but we have so many customers – the aftermarket auto parts manufacturer, the automotive paint distributor, multiple plastics and sustainable paper packaging companies – these are all great examples where IL2000 has gone above and beyond. We do that every day for every one of our clients. [Read the top case studies here.]
DA, BI and BA oh, my
This article has provided only a high-level overview, so if you’d like a deeper dive into BI and supply chain visibility, read Vogl’s White Paper: Taming your supply chain isn’t’ a data problem: It’s a clarity problem.
But to recap (and make sense of all those acronyms), listen to Vogl explain how data analytics, business intelligence and business analytics are all part of the same process of finding successful logistics strategies for our customers.