Boosting Supply Chain Visibility

With the explosion of e-commerce delivery demands and shifts in supply chain practices, visibility is more important than ever. Here are tips to help you understand your end-to-end supply chain and optimize your business.

1. Think about the appropriate level of visibility. At its most basic level, supply chain visibility refers to tracking the movement of products once they’re shipped as well as any “stopping points” on the way to final delivery. Other levels of visibility might consider tracking from supplier to manufacturer to buyer, or capturing the full supply chain from raw material to product end-of-life. Based on your product(s) and business need, you can understand what level of visibility will be most relevant to you.

2. Determine where the pain points are. Do you have difficulty with sourcing from suppliers? Inventory and order fulfillment? By identifying your most problematic areas, you can define the tools and information needed to measure performance, solve issues, and drive improvement.

3. Consider business plans and priorities. Develop your roadmap to optimal visibility by understanding where your business is headed. Be sure your planning takes into account the desired future state.

4. Develop a plan for visibility. Without an element of comprehensive visibility defined by your business needs, businesses will struggle. To appropriately plan, understand your technology constraints and requirements as well as available resources. Once you put a plan in place, coordinate between automated systems and manual operations, consider risks and proactive mitigation techniques, and escalate visibility and execution.

5. Address the effect on your cash flow. Businesses felt unprecedented cash flow headaches in 2020. Proper supply chain visibility can help alleviate many problems and provide a competitive edge. Use the information to create visibility into payment accuracy and timeliness and assist with critical financial forecasting and transparency into any errors so you can proactively resolve them.

6. Make informed decisions. Complex networks and the ever-changing market mean that live visibility is paramount. Many visibility platforms provide a unified, single source of data that updates in real time. This software is often AI-enabled and will work to learn from your business, predict future outcomes, and design executable plans of action.

7. Execute efficiently. Ensure your organization is prepared to execute on trends and opportunities. Have the right resources and motivations in place to turn these plans into a reality.

8. Extend visibility to customers. Real-time visibility can give organizations a leg up on meeting ever-expanding customer expectations. Visibility lets internal logistics teams better manage issues proactively and ensure goods are delivered efficiently. Keep customers in the loop from dispatch to delivery seamlessly and improve overall customer service.

9. Use visibility as a profit center. Visibility requires an upfront investment in software and other automation technology, as well as time. Invest with the understanding that having this visibility will reap financial rewards.

10. Reevaluate software and technology regularly. To remain best-in-class, work actively to stay up to date on new technology that can expand or supplement visibility. This could include updated software and technology, or other areas of automation to improve operations and processes.

SOURCE: Matt Huckeba, COO, Spend Management Experts