For businesses that rely on complex supply chains to bring products to market, achieving visibility across all process stages is critical. Supply chain visibility refers to tracking inventory, shipments, and other fundamental data points in real-time, allowing businesses to quickly identify and address potential issues before they become major problems. Poor visibility can lead to delays, stockouts, and other supply chain disruptions that can be costly and damaging to a company’s bottom line. On the other hand, increased visibility can help businesses make more informed decisions, improve efficiency, and ultimately deliver better customer experiences.
Strategies for Achieving Supply Chain Visibility:
Businesses need to take a comprehensive approach that encompasses people, processes, and technology. This means establishing clear processes and protocols for managing the supply chain, investing in technology that can provide real-time data and insights, and building a culture of continuous improvement that encourages employees to identify areas for improvement and work collaboratively to optimize operations.
Some specific strategies for achieving supply chain visibility might include conducting regular audits of supply chain operations, establishing key performance indicators (KPIs) to measure progress towards supply chain visibility, leveraging real-time data to identify potential issues and respond proactively, investing in employee training and education to build skills and expertise, and collaborating with supply chain partners to share data and optimize operations. Here are a few best practices and strategies that can help:
1) Conduct Regular Audits:
“Regular audits are an important part of achieving supply chain visibility because they help businesses identify potential areas for improvement and ensure that their supply chain operations are operating at peak efficiency. These audits might include reviewing transportation and logistics processes, checking inventory accuracy, or analyzing supplier performance. By conducting regular audits, businesses can identify potential issues and take corrective action before they impact operations or the customer experience.” Says Alan Perkins Co-Founder at RadialZone.com
2) Establish Key Performance Indicators (KPIs):
“KPIs are critical for measuring progress toward achieving supply chain visibility and identifying areas where improvements are needed. Clear KPIs can help businesses track metrics like on-time delivery rates, inventory turnover, or order accuracy. By establishing KPIs, businesses can measure their success and focus on areas where they need to improve.” Says Jake Smith, Owner, and Managing Director at Absolute Reg
3) Leverage Real-Time Data:
“Real-time data is essential for achieving supply chain visibility because it allows businesses to quickly identify potential issues and respond proactively. By using real-time data, businesses can make informed decisions about inventory management, logistics, and other key aspects of the supply chain. Real-time data might come from technologies like RFID, IoT sensors, or GPS tracking.” Says Huzaifa Ghayas, Head of Marketing at Your Pcb
4) Create a Culture of Continuous Improvement:
“Achieving supply chain visibility is an ongoing process that requires a culture of continuous improvement. Businesses should encourage employees to identify areas for improvement, share best practices, and work collaboratively to optimize supply chain operations. By creating a culture of continuous improvement, businesses can ensure that they are always striving to improve their operations and deliver a better customer experience.” Says Hamza G, SEO lead at Auto Wiring Pro
5) Invest in Training and Education:
“Investing in employee training and education is an important strategy for achieving supply chain visibility. This might include training on new technologies and tools, or providing education on supply chain management best practices. By investing in training and education, businesses can build the skills and expertise needed to achieve supply chain visibility and position themselves for long-term success.” Says Richard Dixon, Founder, and Business Operations Head at Team Emergency Plumber
6) Collaborate with Supply Chain Partners:
“Supply chain visibility requires collaboration across the entire supply chain. Businesses should work closely with their suppliers, logistics partners, and other stakeholders to share data and coordinate operations. By collaborating with supply chain partners, businesses can gain visibility into the entire supply chain, identify potential issues, and optimize operations.” Says Ryan Mitchell, Managing Director of Do Good Things
Technologies and Tools for Enhancing Supply Chain Visibility :
There are a wide range of technologies and tools that businesses can use to enhance supply chain visibility. Here are a few of the most promising:
1) RFID and IoT Technologies:
“RFID and IoT technologies have revolutionized supply chain visibility by providing real-time tracking and monitoring of inventory and assets. These technologies use sensors and other devices to capture data about the location, condition, and other key metrics of products, which can be used to optimize operations, reduce costs, and improve customer experience. For example, RFID tags can be used to track individual products as they move through the supply chain, from manufacturing to delivery, providing businesses with detailed information about the location and status of each item.” Says Sharon Winson, Sales Manager at Nucrete
“Blockchain technology has the potential to transform supply chain visibility by creating an immutable, shared ledger that tracks every transaction and movement of products across the supply chain. This can help businesses reduce the risk of fraud, increase transparency, and improve visibility, providing a single source of truth for all supply chain data. By creating a permanent record of every transaction, blockchain can help businesses identify and resolve issues more quickly, and make more informed decisions about their operations.” Says Jessica Shee from iBoysoft
3) Cloud-Based Platforms:
“Cloud-based platforms have become an increasingly popular tool for enhancing supply chain visibility, by providing a centralized platform for data and analytics from across the supply chain. These platforms can be used to aggregate data from a wide range of sources, including inventory management systems, logistics providers, and shipping partners, providing businesses with a comprehensive view of their operations. Cloud-based platforms can also be used to analyze data and generate insights that can be used to optimize operations, reduce costs, and improve customer experience.” Says Keith Eneix, President of FANNIT
4) Transportation Management Systems:
“Transportation management systems (TMS) are software platforms that can be used to manage transportation operations across the supply chain. TMS can help businesses track shipments, manage carriers, and optimize logistics, providing greater visibility and control over the transportation process. For example, TMS can be used to identify the most efficient shipping routes, manage carrier contracts, and monitor the performance of transportation providers, helping businesses to reduce transportation costs and improve efficiency.” Says Jesol Umeria, CEO at Wide Fit Sandal
Examples of Successful Supply Chain Visibility Implementations To illustrate the potential benefits of supply chain visibility, here are a few real-world examples of businesses that have successfully implemented visibility solutions:
By implementing RFID technology across its supply chain, Walmart was able to reduce out-of-stock items by up to 30%, while also improving inventory accuracy and increasing sales. The company was able to use real-time data to make more informed decisions about inventory management and supply chain logistics, ultimately delivering a better customer experience.
Shipping company Maersk implemented a blockchain solution that allowed the company to create a shared ledger of all transactions across the supply chain. By creating a transparent and secure record of every shipment, Maersk was able to reduce fraud, improve compliance, and increase visibility into its shipping operations.
As these case studies illustrate, achieving supply chain visibility can deliver a wide range of benefits, from increased efficiency and reduced costs to improved customer experiences and reduced risk. While there is no one-size-fits-all approach to achieving visibility, businesses can start by implementing a data management system, standardizing processes and protocols, and leveraging advanced technologies and tools like RFID, IoT, and blockchain. By investing in supply chain visibility, businesses can position themselves for long-term success in a rapidly changing and increasingly competitive marketplace.