Supply chain visibility is a widely-discussed notion and a significant element of the supply chain of the future, according to KPMG. The supply chain business consists of many steps and depends on multiple internal and external factors. Manually controlling all these steps and factors seems almost impossible and requires too many investments.
Luckily, there are automated technology solutions that simplify supply chain management and help to ensure real-time supply chain visibility. But remember that to implement sufficient supply chain visibility for your company, you’ll need to cooperate with a mature supply chain software development company.
In this post, we cover:
- Core characteristics of supply chain visibility
- Why supply chain visibility is crucial for current logistics businesses
- Common benefits of supply chain visibility
- Most used technical solutions
What is supply chain visibility?
Supply chain visibility is understanding how your supply chain works on all levels: strategic, tactical, and operational. The most efficient way to implement supply chain visibility is with the help of relevant technologies like business intelligence and advanced analytics. However, almost any type of logistics software can contribute to supply chain visibility. For instance, a transportation management system can help the logistics department to know each aspect of their delivery process to timely tackle any issues if such occur.
According to Accenture, supply chain visibility can be of two types:
Structural visibility is a basic type of supply chain visibility that provides:
- A snapshot of the logistics company operations over a certain period
- Information on the critical supply chain assets required for efficient service delivery
Dynamic visibility allows logistics managers to assess and monitor the workflow of the company in real-time. For instance, this type of visibility helps to understand such things as:
- The current operational state of the warehouses, vehicle fleet, and manufacturing plants
- Product supply and demand fluctuations
- Recent disruptions and their consequences
When combined, structural and dynamic visibility give intelligent visibility. Such a level of visibility helps a logistics company to ensure the most efficient performance and become a true leader in the supply chain industry.
We may also say that supply chain visibility goes hand in hand with digital transformation in the supply chain domain. As digitalization inevitably brings more control over your supply chain and as a consequence more visibility.
Supply chain visibility is also largely connected with data management in the logistics company. Proper data handling from different sources contribute to a better understanding of your business operations. But if you still doubt whether supply chain visibility is what you need, let’s find out the answer together.
Why does your business need supply chain visibility?
Intelligent visibility in the supply chain is beneficial, as it helps to remain resilient in any circumstances. When the supply chain company is aware of its vulnerabilities and strengths, it’s easier for them to keep growing despite any external changes or disruptions in the supply chain industry.
Another common reason supply chain companies strive for visibility is better monitoring of the company workflow. Improved monitoring allows for efficient allocation of company resources and, thus, better efficiency of service delivery. In the next section, we point out the key supply chain benefits of the visibility solutions to convince you to go for it.
Benefits of supply chain visibility
Core supply chain visibility benefits include:
- Unlocking hidden supply chain potential. Once you get more insights into your current operations, you can unleash the hidden potential of your company. For example, thanks to deep data analysis, you can reveal that one of your product lines is manufactured a bit slower than others, leading to delays in delivery. You decide to find out the root cause of the slow manufacturing and realize that you simply need to hire one more worker to speed up the process. This example may seem simple, but often the overall performance of the manufacturing plant is made up of a bunch of such simple disruptions.
- Satisfying demanding customers. With supply chain visibility, you not only help your company better address any issues but also allow your customers to enjoy a transparent supply chain flow. Logistics dashboards and reports available via feature-rich customer portals are becoming an extremely convenient way for customers to control their shipments and deliveries.
- Optimized operational and capital expenses. The better you’re aware of all your company processes, the better you get at short-term and long-term financial planning. Visibility allows for spending financial resources more reasonably and competently. Plus, supply chain visibility isn’t only about improved expenses management, but it’s also about increasing profitability.
Depending on the type of your supply chain business, you can reap different benefits from supply chain visibility. But the basic ones we’ve discussed in this section are guaranteed for you. Let’s switch now to the technologies you can adopt on your journey to supply chain visibility.
Supply chain visibility solutions
In this section, we briefly overview a few typical technology solutions that help to establish a proper supply chain visibility level.
Artificial intelligence (AI) and machine learning. Even though these technologies are common now, implementing them naturally in your day-to-day logistics operations may require much effort and professional support from the IT team. AI and machine learning can automate many mundane logistics operations and provide advanced solutions. For instance, these solutions can predict the most cost-efficient delivery routes or allow analyzing your carrier performance to detect any destructive patterns in advance. Such technologies can also use data from third-party or public sources like news websites or social media to help you, for instance, better predict product demand.
Business intelligence and advanced analytics. Data analysis is essential for the current business landscape. Many logistics companies often generate only rough and superficial reports on company performance. Advanced analytics and business intelligence solutions, in turn, can dive deeper. With such solutions, data scientists can use data from multiple sources like all the supply chain management systems in the company to form a big picture of the company operations as well as generate prescriptive insights.
IoT solutions. Installing IoT devices like surveillance cameras in warehouses or manufacturing plants is becoming widespread in the logistics domain. Proper data aggregation from these devices and its further analysis also greatly contribute to ensuring intelligent supply chain visibility.
If structural visibility is already a part of your daily workflow, you can consider going to a more advanced level and achieving intelligent supply chain visibility. You can start with small steps first and gradually enhance your supply chain visibility practices to become a mature and confident leader in the supply chain industry.