Don’t rely on Freight Management by Spreadsheet
We often hear about companies, including Freight Brokers, using MS Excel, (or Google Sheets), to analyse their freight rates when conducting a Freight Tender or RFP. This was really helpful in the 1990s, but companies are increasingly moving away from this type of number crunching via formulas in spreadsheets to higher powered, more sophisticated Business Intelligence Software, and analysis for freight spend optimisation should be no different.
At a certain level of volume and complexity you’re probably going backwards if you’re trying to rely on the computational power of Excel alone.
Formula errors appear all too easily in re-used spreadsheet templates, where you can unwittingly copy the mistake again and again. Or, alternatively, forget to import the formula across – or assign it to the wrong fields. When you have thousands of rows to copy the formula across it’s all too easy to miss some rows, making any computations added to other fields incorrect.
Beyond just wasting your time with erroneous data and ‘bottom line’ figures, acting upon such errors can lead to bad decision making which can be very costly to your business.
User Access, Protections
You can’t be aware of everyone who has access to a spreadsheet you might save for a new project and what they might have done to that spreadsheet. It’s hard enough to keep on top of what you do (or have done), over days and months, let alone trying to view and understand the changes others could have made that could lead you astray.
If your data is stored in, for example, MSSQL to then be displayed via a Dashboard, (and with the imported source data still available and unchanged), then you can have wider User Access via log in management wherein many people can access the same data at the same time filtering as per their specific line of inquiry and creating the relevant reports for their individual role-based needs.
Spreadsheet charts are unwieldy, and have to be manually created. The choice of graph or chart is up to the individual, and they may not make the right choice for interpreting the data. If they are a Data Analyst / Scientist, or Business Analyst they may have that skillset, but if you are wanting ‘coal face’ users to create the reports it’s not their expertise and they may not make the right choice. It’s a better idea to use a system with a Business Intelligence Dashboard that has been designed with the right charts and graphs to condense large volumes of data to visually represent that data.
Business Intelligence software sytems import fresh data to add to, or to replicate a Dashboard for a new set of data e.g., new customer, quickly and easily, ensuring that when you log in to look at that data, it is the latest, up to date, and the KPIs, filters do not need to be copied across or rebuilt (which can lead to errors as well as being a manual time-consuming process).
Real Time Data
The above leads to our next point which is that we can now deal with real time data. Any time you log in to your business intelligence software system, you get the latest data and then you can act upon that data, the insights gained from that data, quickly. Real time supports agile methodologies.
When you import the data to a Business Intelligence software system with a data lake or warehouse that can then represent that data in real time, or near real time user-friendly Dashboards, you are capturing all the transactional data from the system(s) and therefore you are moving towards a modern digitalised, and data-driven process. It’s very difficult to ensure that all relevant data is captured in Excel and, again, it’s not automated.
This then moves you toward a system that ensures you are capturing all your data comprehensively, and that then ensures you are getting the ‘bigger picture’ and your decision-making processes are agile, comprehensive, and accurate.
Focus on Your Business
All this busy work of checking that formulas are correctly copied and pasted to the right fields and rows etc., checking coding errors to formulas, manual creation of charts & graphs, and just the simple task of adding the latest data to a spreadsheet is keeping you from acting on your business. It’s a far better use of your time to get to the end analysis quickly that you can then implement within your business for the betterment of all, including your customers.
If you’d like to learn more about how to move from an Excel spreadsheet style of reporting to a more sophisticated, easy-to-use Business Intelligence software system built for the Freight & Logistics market please contact us to discuss.