You’ve seen the comments about supply chain visibility, and maybe you’ve encountered some technology providers who want you to know all about how their solution is the best for it. But first, you’ll need to know what it is and whether it’s useful for your business.
At Veryable, our goal is to revolutionize US manufacturing. To reach that goal together, companies need to understand their supply chains and optimize their operations in real time as changes occur. Supply chain visibility is one key part of this equation.
In this article, you’ll learn what supply chain visibility is, why you need it, and how to leverage it in your company.
Supply chain visibility definition
Supply chain visibility is having accurate information about each unit of material or product in your supply chain from source to customer.
The closer to real-time and more granular your data is, the greater your visibility is.
Why do you need supply chain visibility?
Supply chain visibility is crucial for any business that wants to scale. You need accurate data to reduce complexity, make operational improvements, and ultimately reach real-time responsiveness.
Everyone talks about supply chain visibility, and there are a few shiny examples of what you can accomplish with supply chain visibility. For example, some companies (e.g. Walmart) are even implementing distributed ledgers through blockchain technologies to improve their supply chain visibility with the latest, buzziest technology.
Although big name brands and multinational companies with complex supply chains often lead the conversation around supply chain visibility, you can improve your visibility at any scale and reap the benefits.
Benefits of supply chain visibility
- Accurate data
- Improved insights
- Risk discovery
- Public goodwill
- Faster response to changes
In the process of creating supply chain visibility, you will need to gather accurate data. This is not just gathering data. This means ensuring that the data you gather is being input properly at the source and properly processed, stored, and maintained along the way.
Insights will improve with the higher volume and quality of data you gather. With the improved data, you can leverage the latest models for data analysis to get insights into how each step of your supply chain is performing.
This enables you to go beyond averages and basic statistical analysis into processes that will produce more granular and actionable information.
While mapping your data and performing these analyses, you will have a greater chance of uncovering the risks in your supply chain. This greater clarity into your operations will allow you to avoid issues that you might have otherwise been surprised by.
Quicker identification of risks will allow you to quickly fix issues before they snowball and implement standard procedures to avoid them in the future. With the right tools, you can set up alerts based on KPIs that will trigger when the tool sees a risk signal you’ve programmed.
An undeniable benefit of supply chain visibility is the goodwill it can win you with customers. Increasingly, customers want to know where the goods they are buying came from. If you are able to tell your customers where you obtained the materials you used to make their product, you can use this to distinguish your product from competitors’.
Faster response to changes
When you have an accurate and up-to-date picture of what’s happening in your supply chain, you can make decisions faster. If something goes wrong and you know exactly which parts of your supply chain will be affected and by how much, you can quickly identify a solution for just that part of the supply chain.
At each step of the way, greater supply chain visibility is critical to your ability to implement changes that exercise your operational agility and flexibility.
How to leverage supply chain visibility
Supply chain visibility enables various operational improvements. To achieve improvements, you need to take advantage of the flexibility and agility offered by the benefits of improved visibility.
Exercising flexibility and agility could mean adjusting your sourcing, adjusting inventory levels, adjusting labor capacity, and countless other downstream considerations.
The most immediately useful of these is adjusting your labor capacity. Even with limited visibility into your supply chain, you can make operational improvements by gaining daily flexibility in your labor capacity. If your four walls can respond to fluctuations outside your control, limited visibility is less of an issue, and more visibility will only improve your agility.
Learn how to gain flexibility through labor capacity by reading our blog about on-demand labor.