In today’s competitive and disruptive business environment, good supply chain visibility is helping organizations improve their agility and resiliency while also preparing them for the future.
As companies continue to work through supply chain shortages, manage transportation challenges and deal with ongoing labor constraints, many of them are finding relief in technology and data that provide high levels of visibility into their operations and end-to-end supply chains. Equipped with these insights, organizational leaders are able to make better decisions—both for the current environment and with an eye on the future.
“Amid the lingering effects of the COVID-19 pandemic, rising inflation, the war in Ukraine, geopolitical tensions in East Asia, and more frequent extreme weather events, manufacturing supply chains continue to struggle in bringing goods when and where they are needed,” the Brookings Institution states in A data-sharing approach for greater supply chain visibility. “These disruptions have affected all aspects of end-to-end supply chains, producing demand shifts, supply and manufacturing capacity reductions, and coordination failures.”
5 Key Supply Chain Visibility Benefits
As companies assess their current situations and work to develop more agile, resilient supply chains, the ability to share data across business partners and gain high levels of supply chain visibility have become table stakes. Here are five ways that good supply chain visibility helps companies operate more effectively, agilely and resiliently in today’s marketplace:
- It’s a tough world out there, and organizations need all the support they can get. Companies are working to improve contingency planning, organizational readiness and collaboration with their suppliers. According to Brookings, they’re also redesigning products and supply chains for greater agility, thus creating greater opportunities for postponement and a reduced need for highly accurate demand forecasts. “In support of these strategies toward cost-competitive resilience,” it says, “a potent first step is to improve end-to-end supply chain visibility, which provides companies with real-time data and a holistic understanding of their partners across the end-to-end supply chain, starting upstream at the procurement of materials or semifinished goods and ending downstream when products reach the end customer.”
- The more you know, the more resilient your organization becomes. When you know the real-time location, production rates, and delivery schedules (among other variables) of raw materials, components, and final products across the global supply chain, Brookings says, “it becomes easier and quicker to identify disruptions, mitigate their impacts and improve productivity.” Whether the goods are at manufacturing plants, port terminals, warehouses or in transit, knowing where they are at any time gives organizations a clear advantage.
- Readily reposition inventory or make other fast, fact-based decisions. During disruptive periods like what we’re all experiencing right now, visibility is essential to provide the necessary data that supply chain managers need to make good decisions. “Visibility into the supply chain can help quickly identify dynamically changing bottlenecks from origin to destination by tracking changing freight flows from one port to another and providing accurate estimates of carrier timing and actual cargo volumes carried,” Brookings points out, “allowing inventories and manufacturing capacity to be repositioned.”
- Gets everyone on the same page and working from the same playbook. When they have a single integrated data ecosystem to work from, organizations can effectively break down any information silos, eliminate duplication and have a single source of integrated data. “It also brings you closer to an intelligent digital supply chain,” Jabil points out in Supply Chain Visibility Technology Enablers and Benefits. “When everyone is looking at the same data analytics, they are more likely to be on the same page when making decisions. In addition, decisions can be made more quickly because leaders do not have to hunt for and analyze disparate data sets.”
- Make your customers happy (and keep them coming back). Lack of transparency may leave your customers in the dark when they’ll receive their goods or frustrated by the lack of tracking information. “This damages supply chain efficiency, as company efforts are directed toward mitigating reputational damage and handling complaints rather than sourcing and securing opportunities for growth,” SupplyChainBrain And the longer this goes on, the more resources you’ll waste and the more disruption you’ll encounter. “Ultimately, this means demand isn’t being met — and it’s reflected in a company’s revenue,” SupplyChainBrain says. “The most effective way of protecting against unforeseen market dynamics is by using new technology to improve communication and increase visibility.”