How to Create a Data Culture for your Supply Chain

Recent experience of Project IMPACT (JSI) in seven countries has taught us how crucial it is to create a data culture for supply chain by focusing on people as well as technology. This new, people-centered approach takes the idea of a commercial sector control tower and applies it to public health.

Lessons learned:

1. Make data uncomplicated and actionable. In designing web-based dashboards, it is easy to be tempted by fancy graphics and animations — but they are useless if people cannot interpret the data or use it to make decisions. Data visualizations must be created using an iterative, human-centered design approach that engages IMPACT teams to ensure their needs are met. For example, through good data visualization the IMPACT team in Guinea was able to identify supply imbalances and move products from overstocked to understocked facilities in their first meeting.

2. Offer basic training in data interpretation. Many health staff have limited experience in data mining and interpretation, problem identification, and root-cause analysis. They require significant training and ongoing support to build these skills. In Pakistan, IMPACT teams struggled to identify indicators and interpret the different graph types. We conducted additional workshops to teach basic skills in interpreting data visualizations, including comparing categories in bar charts, reading trends in line charts, and understanding the slices in a pie chart.

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