JCB deals with 50,000 parts from around 2,000 suppliers © JCB
JCB deals with 50,000 parts from around 2,000 suppliers © JCB

Get data right or everything will be flawed, warns JCB

Getting your master data right is critical to any digital transformation, according to JCB.

Rob Metcalf, group purchase manager – systems at JCB, told SM a project to overhaul the collection and storage of data would lead to better quality products and cost savings. It was already producing market insights that were helping procurement and other parts of the business.

“We are still on a journey with this, but not getting master data right – the boring elements – anything else you do will always be flawed,” he said.

Metcalf said in 2017 JCB embarked on a journey to improve data processes because they couldn’t easily answer basic questions about suppliers and their performance.

JCB has a global direct procurement spend of £2.5bn and indirect spending of “a few hundred million”. Manufacturing takes place in the UK and India, including 50,000 parts from around 2,000 suppliers.

The work involved cleaning up vendor records and part classification within the company’s existing SAP ERP system. This included consolidating vendor codes that related to the same company or legal entity, which were classified differently, for example by manufacturing system or currency. Work was done to align engineering and purchasing part codes, which were previously different and did not contribute to tracking and analysis.

“How do you collect all this data, maintain it in a central, smart way, and give purchasing colleagues access to it?” said Metcalf.

“Gathering the data is one thing, but how do we use that data and make it accessible to the people who need it.

“It’s not gathering data for data’s sake, we have to drive value from it.”

Metcalf said they tried using a third-party dashboard to share data but it was not customisable enough so they currently use Excel dashboards linked to the ERP system.

As well as sharing data with purchasing teams, information is fed to stakeholders including finance and sales.

Metcalf said at this stage it was difficult to quantify improvements.

“It’s a challenge to measure those outcomes but I would think we make better decisions. In the longer term we should see improvements to quality and cost savings,” he said.

Metcalf will be discussing JCB’s use of data at the CIPS Business Briefing on Digitally Transforming Supply in Manchester next Tuesday 18 June.

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