With the world being more digitally connected across geographical borders, the ecosystem around how supply chains are built and operated is changing rapidly. Businesses and customers who are modeled as sellers and buyers in a typical supply chain transaction can now be classified based on the distinct behavioral patterns they exhibit. Meanwhile, multiple smart devices, network providers, businesses with diverse IT applications interacting with partners, manufacturers, end-consumers, and their related supply chain transactions are growing at an unprecedented rate adding tons of data dimensions near
real-time which makes objective understanding of supply chain complex but critical for decision making.
All of this enables enterprises to track and manage transactions at a granular level and maintain a record of these details- often termed as audits related to a business context. These audits are a true reflection encompassing data elements of a particular transaction, what happened (success, failure, etc.) and when (date and time), and who (batch job, a business user doing manual overrides, etc.) thus, attributing causes and consequences for every transaction.
These transactions would usually be read-only, or could also create new data, update existing data, or delete existing data. Transactions could succeed, fail, or throw an error based on technical or functional validations. All such operations are recorded and persisted which are termed “Business Audits” with necessary attributes identifying them at any point in time.
The objective of this blog series is to highlight the concept of enterprise business audits in the supply chain management space, their relevance and benefits in sample use business use cases, and technical architecture related to the ONDC (Open Network for Digital Commerce) business model.
Benefits of Business Audits
- Investigation of specific transactions with evidence to arrive at logical decisions to take suitable actions.
- Be compliant w.r.t laws on data security, privacy, archival, IT application certification, and business needs.
- Analyze patterns of business trends in relation to the undesired behavior of application which could be due to manual overrides beyond tolerance by business users, detect fraud patterns, failed jobs re-attempting infinitely, accidental mistakes, end consumer interaction, and behavior in relation to a transaction context, data compromise incidents, etc.
Enterprise applications handle several transactions in a day, resulting in business audits generated on a giga-byte scale on a single business day. Therefore, business audits will keep growing exponentially over a period of time, and the management of such audit data becomes a nightmare while fetching data on traditional relational database systems. To address these, most enterprises intend to maintain these business audits externally outside the application transaction processing engines on no-SQL, flat files, etc.
The audits generated by each application in the IT ecosystem can be externalized, but they don’t help in reconstructing the entire supply chain workflow unless they are co-related in terms of audits generated across IT applications.
Let us consider an example: Pick-list audits generated in a warehouse can have attributes such as successful picks or short-picks, and they need to be married with inventory audit transactions along with warehouse personnel task audits for SKUs (in the picklist) in the context of their inventory position to derive accurate reasons for success or failure actions.
If these are not interpreted together and co-related, siloed views will blur the clear patterns of short-pick resulting due to personnel task error as part of training OR a scenario of wrong usage of the device by user OR an algorithm error by inventory allocation engine even though the physical inventory did not exist OR a picklist generation engine had a wrong SKU resulting in the wrong type of picking such as batch-picking/item-picking/order-picking.
There is a paradigm shift in enterprises to analyze business audits purely for IT debugging needs to actually derive valuable business insights from business audits for decision-making to enhance operations, marketing, training or drive any long-term charter in the business.
Next edition preview
We understood what business audits are and why it is an essential need to manage and maintain them accurately in this article. In the next edition, let’s dive deeper into the diverse set of use cases that we are envisioning at Acuver Consulting solved by business audits and how these fit into the ONDC business model which is being envisioned as an open e-commerce platform for businesses in India.
Author: Jagadesh Hulugundi