4 Ways Leading Companies Are Increasing Supply Chain Visibility

How you can make better supply chain visibility a reality


When it comes to supply chain management, there’s a lot to think about. But among the most important concepts in 2017, the idea of visibility will reign supreme. If you don’t have beginning-to-end visibility, then you aren’t in total control of your products.

Here’s How You Increase Supply Chain Visibility

'If there is one buzzword that continues to define supply chain management, its visibility,' Inbound Logistics points out. 'Everyone wants it but few seem to ever approach true nirvana. Part of the difficulty in this endless search for total insight and control is that companies have different interpretations of what visibility means, and these interpretations continue to evolve with varying business demands and globalization trends.'

Ultimately, visibility is about knowing where your inventory is at any given moment along the supply chain. But it’s not just about knowing where it is in a physical sense, you also have to consider who’s touching it and how each little point of interference negatively or positively impacts the overall quality of your product. It’s also about recognizing inefficiencies and enhancing outdated processes.

If visibility is something you struggle with, here are a few tips that will get you pointed in the appropriate direction.

1. Use the Right Technology

When you look at leading food companies like Chipotle, Subway, Whole Foods Market, and National Potato Council, it becomes clear that they all rely on some sort of traceability technology to enhance their visibility initiatives. (In each of these cases they work with FoodLogiQ, who customizes tools for farm-to-fork traceability.)

While there are a number of tools your organization can use, it’s important that you’re using the right technology to move your efforts forward. Manually seeking after high levels of visibility is just about impossible in today’s complicated business climate.

2. Develop Stronger Relationships With Partners

Visibility has a lot to do with trust and transparency. If you don’t have strong relationships with each of your suppliers and partners, then you won’t be able to rest easy. You need to build mutually beneficial relationships in which each party has a reason to be open and forthcoming with information.

Strong relationships with partners lead to better data, more accurate planning, quick conflict resolution, and an overall commitment to getting the job done right. Visiting each of your suppliers in person can go a long way towards building this trust.

3. Establish and Monitor KPIs

How do you measure visibility and efficiency along your supply chain? What most leading companies do is create key performance indicators (KPIs) that guide processes and help gauge progress. When setting KPIs, it’s imperative that you’re as precise and measurable as possible. Otherwise, they won’t help you achieve your goals. With the right data collection and analysis methods in place, a few strategically implemented KPIs can put you back in control.

4. Identify Disruption Points

Every supply chain has what are known as disruption points. Some are big and some are small, but they are almost always present. Disruption points are simply areas of your supply chain that aren’t operating at maximum capacity and could benefit from increased visibility.

By identifying these disruption points and correcting them, you can bring issues to light and get one step closer to your goal of front-to-end visibility in which nothing goes unnoticed or missing.

Make Total Visibility a Reality

Total supply chain visibility isn’t a pipe-dream or myth. It’s a very real goal that requires appropriate decision making and careful execution. As you pursue visibility in your own organization, make sure you’re building a strong foundation that will allow you to gain keen insights into what’s happening at each point along the chain. There should be no weaknesses and no stone left unturned.

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