Supply chain visibility is more than just knowing where parts or products are along the supply chain. It also provides insight into the activities at each stage along the way. In other words, supply chain visibility is “actionable info that can support customers, remove redundancies, and improve processes.”
Over the years, there has been increased pressure on firms to gain supply chain visibility. Fortunately, today’s tech makes this possible and easily accessible. Software systems allow flexibility and can adapt to individual needs. How will you achieve visibility? Well, this largely depends on what you want to find out and your current business processes.
Need an example? Let’s say a dairy farmer is looking to find a location to open up a new farm. Or, a manufacturing company is looking to lower costs in their spare parts production line. These two will be investing in two completely different areas of supply chain.
Understanding your business and what you want to achieve is the first step in achieving supply chain visibility.
However, a single straightforward “out-of-the-box” fix for supply chain visibility is not clear. But, there are general consistencies that are seen in the way firms achieve their visibility. After research, three key elements in supply chain visibility occur quite often.
Having ready access to real time inventory data
Next, real-time data is key in making agile decisions. So, you can see how your business strategy is affecting your supply chain and operations on an ongoing basis. Then, make alterations that directly reflect market demand.
Being proactive with contingency planning and alerts
There is no room in today’s market for decision makers to be reactive. Proactive thinking can often be the difference in success or failure. Supply chain visibility provides you with alerts and insights on potential setbacks. As a result, you can quickly deploy your contingency plan and minimize any negative effects.
Developing strong relationships with like-minded suppliers
Do you have a strong network of strategic partners? If not, this can help increase supply chain visibility. Having close relationships with customers and suppliers allows for more frequent and effective communication. You can know what is going on at outsourced locations. As a result, you can ensure every element of your supply chain aligns with your business goals.
What does this mean? Well, supply chain visibility will vary across firms. This is why it is important to clearly outline goals before moving forward with a plan. Having complete visibility is difficult to achieve right away. Instead, set priorities for the areas you want to start building your visibility. Then, grow and expand from there.