November 02, 2022 | Supply Chain Software
Supply chain management (SCM) can be a serious challenge for most organizations — be it small- and mid-sized companies or multinational conglomerates — because of the incredible complexity and opacity brought about by a constantly changing business environment.
Supply chain visibility is the availability of a clear view of all the stages of an organization’s supply chain — from the procurement of raw materials from its suppliers to the delivery of the final product to its customers.
This improves business processes, provides inputs for financial planning, helps manage risk, enables better supplier relationships and facilitates informed decision-making.
End-to-end supply chain visibility requires close monitoring and tracking of every process in the supply chain. It also requires acquiring and analyzing the vast amount of data to derive useful insights.
Businesses must have complete transparency in each of the following areas:
End-to-end visibility enables efficient communication and collaboration for the organization to meet stakeholder and customer expectations. It also supports product innovation and the delivery of superior business results.
The steps to improve supply chain visibility include:
Identify the bottlenecks that can be eliminated by increasing visibility. Undertake a deep supply chain analysis – talk to all the internal departments as well as suppliers to understand the bottlenecks. After identifying the bottlenecks, get to the root cause through process flow mapping. For example, inventory management may emerge as the pain point for a manufacturing company while identifying bottlenecks.
Having identified the bottlenecks, the next step is to create a clear action plan. While formulating the plan, assess customer expectations, business priorities and supply chain visibility benefits that can be leveraged. Determine if speed-to-market is to be prioritized over risk management. Based on these priorities, devise a strategic plan and decide on accountability and the timelines for execution. Communicate the program to all stakeholders.
Comprehensive supply chain visibility can be achieved only if there is seamless collaboration between the organization and its suppliers and vendors. Prioritize vendors with significant impact on the organization’s bottom line. Discuss the plans for achieving supply chain visibility with the key vendors to get their buy-in. This is critical since supply chain visibility is impossible without stakeholders' trust and willingness.
Once the plan for supply chain visibility is in place, invest in tech tools that will enable you to access and analyze supply chain data. While there are many tools available today, there is no one-size-fits-all solution. Pick a tech tool that best meets your specific needs. Automate routine processes using track and trace systems, RFID technology, intelligent sensors, etc., to enhance efficiency, productivity and visibility across the supply chain.
Based on the defined goals, determine the KPIs that need to be monitored and tracked. Keep the communication channels with partners and vendors open, and share progress reports and scorecards. Periodically review performance against KPIs and reiterate the process as required.
Supplier relationship management (SRM) software can help improve supply chain visibility by:
In addition, other available supply chain software will help with the rollout of digitization, implementation of IoT and robotics, data analytics, etc. in supply chain management.
End-to-end visibility is vital for streamlining supply chain operations. It sets the organization up for success through efficient supply chain practices and data-driven decisions.
To leverage the benefits of end-to-end visibility, businesses must invest in supply chain technology and work closely with internal and external stakeholders.
To start with, supply chain visibility requires access to the supply chain design process, followed by collaboration with vendors and suppliers, and investments in the right supply chain visibility tools.
Transparent and open communication with vendors and suppliers creates a ‘no-surprises’ environment in the organization. In addition, supply chain visibility technology helps gain greater visibility and control over potential issues. This ensures pre-emptive action on potential problems, reducing lead times.
A business can achieve end-to-end, real-time supply chain visibility by leveraging technology and establishing a network of open communication among its stakeholders.