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Supply Chain Visibility: Why and How to Get It

Supply chain visibility has risen to be one of the top priorities of industry players, as the Blue Ridge report says.  This trend can be seen, mostly, as an effect of the pandemic that translated into the drive to become more resilient.

Supply chain visibility allows business leaders to get real-time information on all activities and components of their supply chain. They can track the journey of goods/products from manufacturing to the final point of consumption. The ultimate goal is to fetch useful insights on the supply chain positioning, operations, inefficiencies, and potential risks to realize maximum optimization.

Now, you may think about why your supply chain needs to be visible and how it can become so. Read below to understand everything about it.

Why is supply chain visibility important?

Before we see how to enhance supply chain visibility, let’s see why you need to do so.

  • Having clear visibility of the supply chain ecosystem provides you with real-time information to do the right analysis, reporting, and evaluation. This helps to make informed decisions and strategies ahead of time.
  • You get a better overview of the inventory, resources, and current positioning of the supply chain. This helps you spot the inefficiencies and make the necessary improvements on time.
  • Better visibility leads to faster responsiveness and in turn, better disruption anticipation and quicker risk mitigation. You can combine this data analysis to develop proactive contingency measures.
  • With real-time data on all the supply chain activities, you can ensure appropriate regulations compliance.
  • Boosting visibility brings all the business stakeholders and external participants closer. This can help with strategic sourcing and a shared vision for innovation and growth.
  • Visibility also helps with active monitoring of product quality, lead time, and cost. You can use this data to improve product management and achieve customer satisfaction.

5 simple ways to gain supply chain visibility

While you can work out a plan unique to your business case for improving visibility, here are a few simple yet crucial methods you can weave in.

1.     Establish thorough collaboration across segments

One of the primary steps you can take to enhance supply chain visibility is achieving cohesive communication with stakeholders at all levels. This will require collaboration with key vendors/suppliers, department managers, retailers, logistics service providers, and even competitors. With the ensuing aim of gain for all, try building a network of stakeholders that trusts, collaborates, and shares information actively.

The direct result of this will be a streamlined information flow with several benefits for your supply chain. This will help with better analysis and understanding of the positioning of the supply chain. It will also allow easier identification of the bottlenecks for faster redressal.

2.     Identify issues and set improvement goals

The information and data will help you to identify the bottlenecks in your supply chain and their overall impact. You can do so by process flow mapping. It involves laying out all the elements and functions of the supply chain followed by finding out the weak points. You can achieve better results by sharing the data with other stakeholders and reviewing it thoroughly.

This will generate a clear image of the required improvements in your supply chain. You can then follow up with building execution strategies, setting deadlines, building the right teams, etc. to achieve them. Again, remember to share the issues and solutions with the stakeholders to get better insights, knowledge of market trends, and higher efficiency.

3.     Pull benefit from data

Data analytics plays the hero here. It is extremely important to skim and analyze the supply chain data for identifying the operational shortcomings, determining the KPIs, and even develop practical solutions. In-depth supply chain analytics can go a long way in generating actionable insights on process and performance optimization.

Improving supply chain visibility gets easier with the crucial KPIs for supply chain monitoring in place. They will help you assess your goals and achievements concerning your business. With the results, you can introduce further improvements to the system. At this stage, remember to collaborate on the progress reports with business partners. This will promote transparency and trust across your supply chain network when it comes to data sharing.

You can get this data with the help of Trademo’s supply chain data platform, Intel.


4.     Partner with technology

We have seen how technology saved the supply chain from crashing down entirely during the pandemic. Digital technologies like data analytics, AI, automation, etc. are proving great at strengthening the supply chains (report). Along with supply chain management tools, you can audit your system and automate required processes. This will enhance visibility along with boosting efficiency, time management, and error reduction.

While opting for digital technologies, make sure to skill and train your human resources accordingly. Integrate your applications, workforce, and information bases properly to achieve real-time supply chain visibility.

5.     Keep revisiting and revising

Achieving end-to-end supply chain visibility is not a day’s job. It may require you to revisit your strategies often and introduce changes frequently. You will have to put consistent efforts into improving operational processes and redefining business goals according to the data inputs.

The challenges of improving supply chain visibility

Achieving end-to-end supply chain visibility is a highly rewarding goal but also a great challenge. While only 6% of the companies report end-to-end visibility, a massive 62% report very limited visibility. Only 22% of companies were able to sail through the pandemic waves with proactive supply chain management. This clearly shows the struggle of most companies at making their supply chains efficiently visible.

There are plenty of reasons why companies are failing at it. Technological gaps, rigid reliance on traditional operational setups, lack of collaborations, etc. are only some of them. If you see any of these shortcomings in your supply chain, the tips discussed above are going to put you on the right track.

To conclude

The pandemic laid bare a critical state of the global supply chains in dire need of repairs and improvements. Companies took cognizance of it and it is not surprising to witness many of them prioritizing supply chain visibility. You must also set the wheels rotating to see through your supply chain and strengthen it for ultimate competitive advantage.

Thanks for reading! Please comment below for any queries and let us know how we can help with making your supply chain more efficient.

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