The Truth About Supply Chain Visibility

While just about anyone will be more than happy to tell you that visibility is important for your supply chain, few can explain, let alone demonstrate, the exact reason as to why. It’s true that there are many benefits to be gained from increased visibility. However, there are also a considerable number of myths surrounding it.

“These myths distract us from the real issues and solutions surrounding supply chain visibility, causing us to make decisions based on assumptions that are wrong, expensive or even dangerous,” said Christian Titze, a research director at Gartner. “In doing so, they stifle innovation and slow progress toward real goals, accomplishments, and outcomes. By separating the truth from fiction, supply chain leaders can make more informed decisions about their visibility and multi-enterprise initiatives and investments.”

While some of these myths are just simple untruths, there are a number of them that can be harmful to any business that buys into them. Here are a few points about supply chain visibility that you need to be aware of.

Supply Chain Visibility is a Must

There really is no way around this. All organizations should be striving for increased visibility across their supply chain. Visibility sets the stage for forming and executing plans, events, and gathering data which can both generate value for the company as well as help to reduce potential risks.

Visibility isn’t just a company central focus, either. In order to be successful, visibility needs to extend to partner networks and systems.

Visibility isn’t just a company central focus, either. In order to be successful, visibility needs to extend to partner networks and systems. That doesn’t mean, however, that cooperation with partners is the same as visibility. Both companies need to make efforts to improve visibility in their own right while making sure that their efforts can coincide with one another. Failure to do so creates more roadblocks and obstacles in both the partnership as well as in the supply chain.

Visibility is not a “One Stop Shop”

Some companies believe that they can have all the visibility they need by using one platform or vendor. This is just not true. As it stands, no single vendor offers software that can meet the end-to-end visibility needs of a successful supply chain. In fact, most companies will likely need multiple software packages to achieve true end-to-end visibility.

With that being said, it’s important to understand that not all vendor offerings are the same, nor can they be compared so easily. Every potential application and approach is different and can vary widely based on the needs of your company. In short, to find the right fit, it’s going to take more than some quick browsing.

Finding the Right Partner

It’s not always an easy thing to find blind spots in your supply chain. Otherwise, they wouldn’t create such a pervasive issue. Instead, sometimes it takes the help of another party to see where you’re lacking. Such was the case with a U.S. based agricultural chemical manufacturing company.

“A massive agriculture chemicals manufacturer (hazardous materials) in the United States was with another large 3PL (third-party logistics provider) when an opportunity came across for BlueGrace to do a consultative review. Upon conducting the review and data engineering screening, this company felt that BlueGrace offered greater transparency and pricing structure than their current provider and ultimately made the switch.”

Of course there’s more to the story than simply offering a better deal. What this company needed most was better visibility and a way to share information easily, which would make their operation run more efficiently. While we’ve mentioned some things that aren’t true about supply chain visibility, here are a few (very real) benefits from having better visibility.

  • A better pricing structure was created using data gathered from the company. The new pricing structure yielded a 14 percent savings year-over-year.
  • Better transparency offered new opportunities. Making the switch to intermodal transportation allowed the company to save an additional 20 percent.
  • Developed new market strategies based on supply chain data. By implementing more warehouses across the country, the company could more accurately forecast sales and accommodate the demand for transportation.

These are the genuine and measurable benefits of visibility in the supply chain. It’s the ability to see opportunities as well as weak points and capitalize or improve them, respectively. As the supply chain serves as the backbone of any company, it’s visibility that gives it motion. It’s what allows the necessary foresight to allow for sound decision making and is vital to any company looking to be successful in today’s market.

See How We Saved This Company 14 Percent Year-Over-Year

 

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