Using Tableau for Supply Chain to Better Understand the Impact of Coronavirus

By: CoEnterprise | April 13, 2020

During these uncertain times, it’s as important as ever to be able to quickly identify business risks and responsibly react to them. The impact of Coronavirus can be felt across many industries and we at CoEnterprise have recently used Tableau for supply chain to explore ways to mitigate its effect on business. In this analysis, we’ve devised a way to enable an end user to make timely and well-informed decisions in response to the current outbreak.

Our use case is designed to show how data can be used to pivot quickly and smartly to meet changing demands. In this scenario, we’re taking on the persona of a supply chain manager working for a big box retailer. Companies like this have seen a significant increase in demand for products such as toiletries, pharmaceuticals, and other similar products. Imagining ourselves as this kind of user, we want to make sure we can best provide these products to our community, and that means having an adaptable list of suppliers. With that in mind, we have developed a dashboard which allows us to answer four key questions:

  • Where are we seeing Coronavirus cases?
  • Do we have a disproportionate number of supplies in those countries which are being heavily impacted?
  • What product families are going to be the worst hit?
  • Where else can we supply those product families from?

We’ve been able to approach answering these questions by combining a sample data set that simulates a business’s purchasing data with the COVID-19 data provided by Johns Hopkins University.


At the top of the dashboard there are two visualizations strictly focused on the virus. On the left is a map displaying confirmed cases by country. On the right are two trend lines, the top one charting the number of confirmed cases (this view uses a logarithmic axis to more easily visualize how close to exponentially those cases are increasing over time) and at the bottom the virus’ growth factor (a ratio of the new cases today over the new cases yesterday). The closer to 1 that number is, the closer we are to reaching the peak of the curve and hopefully a potential future decrease in new cases.

But beyond simply characterizing the progression of the virus, this data enables us to analyze the practical impacts on our business. The visualization to the bottom left shows the total value of historical shipments and the most recent growth factor of each country we have suppliers in. This allows us to quickly see where our big suppliers are focused and those who are most affected by the virus currently (i.e. those who pose the biggest risk to our supply chain).

The interactive function of this view allows us to select countries that filter the view on the bottom right, which shows the distribution of products from the select country compared to the overall distribution of products in high demand. The larger the bar relative to the marker, the more likely issues in the selected country will impact that product category. That is, if suppliers in that region start to close, there would be an increased risk to the supply chain for those products. Once you have identified a country that disproportionately supplies a product category and is being heavily impacted by the virus, selecting that product category reveals all potential suppliers that could be pivoted to in the interim. In this analysis, we’ve been able to tie together the overall global impact of Coronavirus to its direct impact on our business’ supply chain. After identifying this impact, we could also quickly define next steps to shift our business and ensure that we are supplying those necessary goods that are in high demand.

We hope you find this insight useful. As always, do not hesitate to reach out to us with any questions.

Interested in learning more? Review our on-demand webinar, “Mitigating the Impact of Coronavirus in Retail and Consumer Goods” and visit for more information.

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