Knowing what’s going on in your supply chain is referred to as supply chain visibility. Despite its seemingly straightforward meaning, it is not easy to achieve. Several organizations have experienced unplanned supply chain disruptions in recent years as a result of unusual weather events, natural disasters, factory fires, and other types of supply chain disruption.
When these events are analyzed, it is not unexpected to discover that businesses were caught off guard due to poor supply chain visibility. Companies in some cases had no idea where their suppliers and sub-suppliers were located, while others were unaware of critical dependencies in their extended supply chains. These same issues are still present as businesses attempt to resume production following the COVID-19 lockdown.
Properly managed supply chains and full visibility into supply chain processes are critical to maintaining a healthy business, especially given the complexities of modern business. Financial, business, and reputational risk keep all organizations on edge, and manually managing these risks can be difficult at times when competing with other business priorities.
At its core, supply chain visibility is about knowing where your inventory is at any given time, tracking its movement and delivery, and thoroughly understanding who you are doing business with. It’s a concept we call “visible commerce,” and the problem is that most businesses don’t pay attention to the human side of business. When they do, however, they open the door to a completely transparent world of exchange, whether it is for money, goods, or services. And then there’s the pure globalization of business exchanges and the growing market that make this difficult.
Advantages of Implementing A Good Supply Chain Visibility
Having insight into every link of your supply chain can have an immense impact on every aspect of your business’ operations. Here are just some of the immediate, practical benefits of supply chain visibility:
1. Faster responses to problems
Supply chain visibility benefits your company by letting you see problems as soon as they arise, easily track them to their source, and promptly respond and resolve them.
Professional quality control and compliance platforms enable real-time collection of supply chain data and real-time communication. This means that your quality team can monitor factory inspections and audits as they are happening, and respond to non-conformance alerts as they are detected, while having up-to-date data to inform their decision.
2. Big-picture view of product quality and supplier performance
Integrated quality and compliance software consolidates and analyzes huge amounts of supply chain data. The resulting insights can often reveal trends in product quality and supplier performance that may not be apparent from individual and disjointed inspection or audit reports.
3. Consistent standards and continuous improvement
A shared platform with customizable workflows and task-specific quality control checklists ensures that all teams in your supply chain operate within the same framework and follow your standards.
4. Streamline QC Assignments
Supply chain visibility is also of major benefit for business coordinators during task assignment and TIC service scheduling, as it allows to streamline many routine tasks. Furthermore, with the help of supplier mapping and scoring, businesses can accurately identify the best and worst performers in their supply chain.
5. Supplier autonomy
As supply chain visibility increases, so does the trust between suppliers and brands. This opens up the option of empowering suppliers with autonomy to complete self-inspections: on a certain percentage of the order, for simpler and routine QC cases, and when a supplier has demonstrated consistently high quality performance.
6. Lower costs
Supply chain visibility allows you to make informed decisions at every step of your supply chain, and contributes to the bottom line of your business in a variety of ways.
7. Compliance with regulatory demands
Supply chain visibility tools help firms trace the continuously changing landscape of government regulations and compliance. This is particularly useful for organizations who function on a global scale when it comes to handling the complexity of trade agreements and government tariffs. Additionally, companies can better predict and respond to new regulations in the industry and in terms of transportation used.
8. Meeting customer demand
The customers of today have more choices than ever before. This puts them at the right to demand more. Modern customers expect shorter cycle times and will be less tolerant of mistakes and late deliveries. To meet such high demands, firms need a transparent, more effective supply chain, and a better flow of data and information. A system that delivers a comprehensive view of the supply chain will help generate better consistency while classifying SKUs, measuring units, and imposing timelines.
9. Rising complexity of SCM
Today many organizations function on a global scale and use numerous modes of logistics and shipping to serve their customers. Having a good supply chain visibility is indispensable to track the supplier network activity precisely and accomplish SCM. But even though your firm may not have to deal with the global demand and supply, there is a good chance for your supply chain to become widespread and complex. Proper communication and the skills to make rapid and informed decisions could be a challenge. In this case, the best solution to increase supply chain visibility may be to capitalize on a cloud technology that is capable of managing big data or to work with a logistics company that focuses on transportation management.
While supply chain visibility can be an important tool in any risk management strategy, it also provides a competitive advantage by improving supply chain performance and efficiency while reducing errors. Companies that have visibility into supply chain data are better positioned to deal with global supply chain challenges such as changes in the market, increase in product demand, increased labor costs or labor shortages, international trade uncertainty, and other factors.