In the past few years, supply chains have become increasingly more connected and complex. At the same time consumer demand for transparency, combined with rising expectations, is at an all-time high. Having visibility throughout your supply chain can be a game-changer – not only can it help you manage disruption but also reduce risk, gain control and improve your customers’ experience.
What is Supply Chain Visibility?
Put simply, supply chain visibility is a thorough understanding of where raw materials, products, and inventory are in real-time. This includes the transit of materials, the final shipment of the product – and each step in between.
A core tenet of supply chain visibility is data availability throughout all levels of the organization. This allows everyone to understand production schedules, deadlines, and statuses of orders. This leads to process optimization and quicker response to disruptions.
It also helps businesses with the traceability of all products that are used as inputs into their manufacturing process, helping to control quality and stay compliant.
Supply Chain Visibility Can Reduce Complexity and Boost Efficiency
As more businesses outsource parts of their supply chain, visibility is more important than ever. The world’s top thought leaders on supply chain wholeheartedly agree. Using a single source of supply chain data, manufacturers, distributors, and suppliers can collaborate and communicate more effectively with one another, leading to improved customer experience and clearer accountability.
Here’s an example. A food manufacturer struggled with trying to produce the right products at the right time. They were flying by the seat of their pants which resulted in very little visibility throughout their supply chain, both externally and internally. Their Procurement team was always placing rush orders to suppliers, resulting in higher material costs, shipping costs and shortages. Their Production team was inefficient due to unplanned changeovers, material shortages, and overtime. Their Sales team (and customers!) were unhappy due to shorted sales and Finance was unhappy with all of the above. When they moved to centralized forecasting, planning, and scheduling, costs decreased and efficiency increased because the entire supply chain had more visibility.
Increased Customer Experience & Satisfaction
Today, it is more important than ever before for your business to focus on the customer experience (CX). In a recent study, streamlined CX was identified as the No. 1 brand differentiator and was more important than either the product or price.
Providing your employees with visibility into the entire supply chain can not only help them make better-informed decisions but can assist them to deal more effectively with customers. Modern organizations are sharing this real-time data with their customers to keep them up-to-date and also to provide them the ability to mitigate any potential issues. This kind of operational transparency can help establish a sense of trust and loyalty.
Agility & Mitigation of Disruptions
Better supply chain visibility makes business operations more flexible and agile. As data becomes more accessible and the flow becomes automated, impending issues can be identified easily. The business can then quickly adjust to mitigate potential disruption. Rather than inefficiently changing production priorities to meet a potential customer supply problem, companies can adjust in a more optimal manner. The availability of information also helps the operations team to make smarter decisions.
Traceability & Regulatory Compliance
Another benefit is the improved traceability of manufactured products. Each raw material used for a specific lot can be traced to its origin. Troubleshooting becomes easier as quality teams can examine where material changes may have affected current products.
This can also be helpful in meeting regulatory requirements. Compliance depends on visibility. In every industry, there are critical compliance requirements mandated by governments, customers, or other authorities. Without a centralized system, compliance and visibility can be manual, tedious, and costly – even resulting in penalties.
Supply chain visibility leads to many advantages for today’s global and agile businesses. It allows businesses to reduce complexity, improve communication throughout the organization, stay nimble, and keep up with a complex regulatory landscape. With supply chain visibility, businesses can make the right decisions in real-time. What follows is efficient operations, improved profits, and above all, happy customers.