3 Ways Supply Chain Data Automation Helps You Stop Typing, and Start Thinking

Making sure the correct information is connected throughout your systems is key to ensuring freight arrives on time in the correct port, carriers get paid, and customers are aware of their shipment’s status, among other things.

Making sure the correct information is connected throughout your systems is key to ensuring freight arrives on time in the correct port, carriers get paid, and customers are aware of their shipment’s status, among other things.

Nobody truly enjoys keying in data. Like trips to the dentist or great-aunt Peggy’s cream-of-something-casserole, data entry is just something people are resigned to suffer through.

Manual data entry is a fairly mindless task. It’s usually not fulfilling and doesn’t lead people to feel like they’re adding real value to the team, especially when it's a process that could easily be automated. Many of the people reading this blog might not be the ones actually keying in the data themselves, but they may be asking others to do it instead of investing in more elegant, efficient solutions.

Data entry, in some capacity, is an essential part of freight forwarding (unfortunately, that casserole is also an essential part of Thanksgiving…). Making sure the correct information is connected throughout your systems is key to ensuring freight arrives on time in the correct port, carriers get paid, and customers are aware of their shipment’s status, among other things.

Instead of having your team spend hours typing in data from one system to another, colloquially known as “good old fashioned swivel-chair integration”, you should allow them to spend their time evaluating the information and details that are within the data. This slight change will dramatically increase your value to your customers, not to mention having more attractive job descriptions.

Automating your systems so that data is systematically communicated frees up time to allow your team the freedom to think critically about the trends they see within the data and to make impactful decisions for your business.

1. Thrive, Not Survive

At the start of your business, you were likely in survival mode and didn’t have the budget or time to connect your systems. You were busy hiring, pitching customers, and securing more business.

As your business grows though, you must start thinking about scalable practices and ways to improve your products and services to stand out above competitors in a growing field. Automating your data helps you do this in two ways:

1. Data automation means data integrity. This ensures that your systems are always reflecting the correct information, no matter the volume of shipment data, number of customers, or hours you operate.

2. Connectivity between your systems allows employees to spend more time on essential projects, like serving customers and finding new ways to help your business thrive.

2. Reduce Data Errors

Data doesn’t just appear in your systems - it starts with a human somewhere relaying details about the price of goods, shipment requests, or vessel availability. Once this data is created, it must be re-entered and relayed throughout dozens of systems to numerous contacts throughout the supply chain.

Throughout this process, things get missed. There will be typos, data entry errors, missed information. There will be bad hair days and happy hour went late last night and who said puppies were easy days. When humans are entering the data, the chance of errors increases exponentially, and, as long as your employees are still human, this is unavoidable.

With data automation on the other hand, your systems will automatically be populated with accurate and up-to-date information, so your team can focus their efforts elsewhere on ways to improve productivity (even if that just means Googling “how to find a dog sitter” some of the time.)

Plus, there are numerous downstream benefits to automating your data, like better compliance data and overall supply chain resilience.

3. Improve Your Efficiency

Because your team is tied up in the weeds and spending hours on manual data entry, they usually don’t have time to evaluate your and your customer’s data critically.

By automating your data, you limit the burden on your individual team members and allow them time to engage with the information they were once just disseminating. You allow them to do what people still do better than computers - dream up innovative projects based on insights they may not even be aware of having, or identify things that just “feel wrong” with customer data and flag them for additional review, or so much more.

While analyzing data, your team can organize, interpret, and apply the information you receive from customers and other systems, providing context and insight into opportunities for many areas of your business.

When given a chance to think critically about the sea of information they are working with, your team will likely find ways to improve operational efficiency internally and opportunities to better serve customers externally.

Chain.io Can Help

Move data between systems through a variety of data connections, including routing data from CargoWise to multiple recipient systems.

When working with Chain.io, automating data throughout your systems is simple and fast.

Chain.io takes data from one source, filters and translates that information if needed, and delivers the data to multiple desired locations, like a TMS or ERP, a reporting platform, or any other specified location needed for your business.

Using Chain.io’s network of integrations, your team can focus on serving your customers and be confident in the integrity of your data, which we couldn’t always say about that casserole at dinner.

Learn More About Data Automation


By Morgan Jones
written on August 5, 2022

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