Visibility is an important aspect of logistics’ surroundings. It provides the status of supply chain processes. A well-known consultant from Columbus namely Nancy Marino believes that supply chain visibility is not enough and it should consider having full transparency.
It is a fact that customers are not always satisfied with just visibility. They want to know the absolute status of their orders. Customers always tend to know the status of their orders at every instance in a supply chain process. This particular tendency requires more than just supply chain visibility.
Supply chain visibility is table stakes today. It wasn’t too long ago that visibility was a “nice to have”. Now it is “a must-have”. It is important to know what is going on inside the supply chain at all times. At times, there are potential disruptions in the supply chain; there are market opportunities, and things keep on changing with time.
Therefore, it is very important to have visibility on both the upstream and down streams. This gives you the feeling of comfort to see all those processes taking place and you have full control over everything. This helps you to respond to potential disruptions or opportunities that might arise when a shipment is in transit.
What is supply chain visibility? How does it work?
The supply chain is all about getting the right product in the right place and at the right time along with suited quality and cost. Supply chain management is the management of the complete flow of goods and their particular services. This gives full information on the movement of raw materials, and their respective work in progress inventory. This is a very basic definition.
However, if you see clearly, the supply chain is a fascinating topic because it is present all around us. It is everywhere whether it is building, or restaurant, or any product, supply chain works wholesome for everything.
Every company regardless of how small or big they are, visibility is important. If you are an importer or exporter or even have a multi-national shop, you still have all the same fundamental components involved in your supply chain. You got a lot of things that can happen and go wrong when a shipment is in transit. The smaller companies are a lot easier to communicate internally. They have fewer people involved in the supply chain in servicing your customers.
Bigger companies have more stakeholders and more finance groups. They also have many buyers and several logistics people are involved. Overall, it is a big crowd. Therefore, internal communication becomes difficult. This is the reason why a good visibility tool is required to not only manage shipments and supply chains effectively but also it gives all those stakeholders insides the visibility of your company. This latter part is important too as it makes the internal flow of communication much easier to manage.
The major aspects of supply chain visibility
When visibility is concerned, there are certain things you need to focus on:
In functionality, there are two dimensions. One is the real-time web-based environment where you can see what is going on with your supply chain and manage all of the moving parts inside your supply chain. The second part is reporting where you can pull data out of a system so that you can see what is going on inside your supply chain. This allows you to measure suppliers, manage vendors, and manage on-time delivery. Therefore, real-time functionality and reporting are the two critical components that you should be focusing on. Thus, if you are thinking about which visibility tools you should use, this is the real deal.
Ease of use
Somebody can provide you with the best system with all the components available, but if it is too hard to implement or if it is not user-friendly then you know you are not going to use it. Then you lose the real value that a good visibility tool represents.
Make it cost-effective
One other value of having good visibility to the solution is the ability that it can create for a company to help drive efficiencies internally and manage costs taking place inside companies. This helps the company to manage all those moving parts.
Therefore, a good visibility tool with good automation is certainly going to give an organization a much better opportunity to be lean.
Lack of supply chain visibility and the need for transparency
There is no doubt that supply chain visibility is one of the major aspects of the supply chain process. However, with time and advancement consumers expect more. Moreover, the supply chain processes of many companies are conserved and they fail to serve the customers right.
In addition to this, the supply chain provides access and knowledge to just shipments and deliveries but transparency on the other provides a lot more. Moreover, the available visibility tools are not good enough or efficient enough to satisfy the customers and at the same time decreases the company’s credibility.
Consumers want to know where the product originated and what their actual reviews are. This not only maintains the company’s credibility to stay crystal clear with its consumers but also increases its brand value at the same time. So if a company goes from providing only shipment visibility to total transparency, they will find that consumer engagement on their product has increased considerably.
Why transparency is at high stakes?
Supply chain visibility only provides you with information about the product’s position in the supply chain. The information is shared among suppliers, shippers, customers and lastly business partners. It also deals with three particular supply chain flows is Information, material, and capital.
The universal concept of supply chain visibility is that everyone has become familiar with over the years. It includes activities in sourcing, storing, planning, and lastly delivering products. However, when we consider the supply chain globally, then the visibility involved expands.
Transparency is way beyond visibility. Transparency does not simply give the information about the orders or shipments. It takes you a deeper insight into the supply chain processes and all the critical analysis of all the ongoing activities. The effectiveness of every process and system cannot be measured separately. This requires exact metrics that can reflect the total performance of the corporate sector.
The supply chain management of every company is so dispersed that it creates risk and the transition of transparency form visibility becomes critical. The only way is to gather accurate data from the demand and supply sides and analyze the supply chain using the corporate KPIs.
This can then be used for planning, operative forecasting, and risk management. Indeed, supply chain transparency is not an easy thing to achieve, but once achieved it gives you that secure foundation that provides continuous improvement and efficient management.
Why it is so important to have transparency?
When consumers become completely aware of the origin of the product, they become more and more interested in it. If the companies are not able to give the full disclosure of their supply chain processes, the consumers can fill in their place. For instance, Google Guide is a very famous platform that is well known for giving out pieces of information on anything that is asked.
An individual can easily get or share information on social and health impacts on any product. It is impossible to create positive product images without having an open supply chain platform. Allowing customers to have full access and knowledge on the product details increases a company’s credibility and creates strong brand value.
Supply chain transparency provides the following:
- It helps to achieve the optimal level of the inventory.
- Restore the healthy bond between inbound supply and outbound demand.
- Makes sure that the vendors are selling only approved components,
- Analyze the products of the company and its environmental footprint.
- It helps to identify invalid supply chain elements and ensures operational improvements.
Companies opting for transparency in the supply chain process are most likely facing problems while accumulating data. Problems like what exact data they need to collect, how can they be verified, and how the data should be stored and analyzed. It is been years that companies have been struggling to get data access to external suppliers and managing dispersed data.
Supply chain visibility is not enough to get the customer’s full attention. As the customers are paying for the products in full amount, it is justified that they get every information they require. Therefore, only supply chain visibility is not enough. Complete transparency is necessary.
Only knowing things is not good enough anymore, people demand to foresee much deeper. This not only prevents problems but also helps to avoid any unforeseen difficulties, which is why people tend to rely on many predictive platforms. The biggest example is google maps, google guide, and ok google. Therefore, only supply chain visibility is not enough; complete transparency of it is necessary.