The definition of Supply chain visibility has evolved more than any other term in supply chain. From track and trace to multi-tier inventory, supply chain visibility is used to describe improvements in how we use data to track and make better decisions in our supply chain.
Today, we would like to talk about end-to-end supply chain visibility and how organizations are using supply chain orchestration in order to get real-time actionable visibility into the orders that are being executed throughout their end-to-end supply chains. This is key.
To truly have end-to-end supply chain visibility, you need the following:
- Real-time: Access to the most readily available data
- Actionable: You can change and update order flows easily based on new information
- Automated: Intelligent systems help to automate order flows based on the data that is available and the opportunities and constraints in your supply chain
However, to get here you need to undergo transformation in your organization and for organizations that have been successful, we’ve seen them undergo the following 3 stage process from visibility to optimization.
#1 Real-Time, End-to-End Supply Chain Visibility
In the Geodis 2017 Supply Chain Survey, they found that only 6% of organizations said they had end-to-end supply chain visibility. This is a problem.
In order to improve efficiency, we have began to get very granular in our processes at each stage of the supply chain to improve efficiency with manufacturing, with suppliers, for pick and pack and in transportation. However, in order to get to these efficiencies we’ve added specialized technologies that focus on just these specific functions providing us visibility that is specialized and fragmented.
It’s not that we don’t have data, nearly every system we have provides some sort of valuable data but the data is not focused on the end-to-end supply chain and it’s not focused on the impact to the customer experience which is OTIF delivery. You may think your TMS provides this visibility but the fact is OTIF is missed in many cases due to other functions in your supply chain well before your transportation partners and carriers pick up the product. Ensuring OTIF and doing so consistently requires end-to-end supply chain visibility for the movement of everything that needs to happen for a customer order from order placement to final delivery.
The other area of visibility current systems have trouble with is visibility into suppliers and 3PL partners. Your multiple parties are critical to the supply chain and supply chain control towers can help to connect with the systems and provide visibility to external partners in the supply chain.
With this end-to-end visibility, organizations are finally able to manage by exception with planning teams that quickly can re-plan order flows that have been delayed at some point in the end-to-end supply chain. They can also begin to look at their current process and determine places to improve their estimations and process.
#2 True Collaboration with Suppliers and Partners
With step 1 finished, you now have all the data in place to understand how orders flow through your end-to-end supply chain but it’s just static. If you stop here, you’re missing a critical opportunity for improvement.
The next step is being able to build collaboration with the internal and external parties in your supply chain and flexibly use the best party for every function. Multi-Enterprise Business Networks are forming with supply chain control tower software designed to help to make our visibility available across our partner ecosystem. It’s about providing a common language and real-time access to data across you and your parties so that the best action can be taken on the data.
It’s also about understanding your relationships and begin to digitize the nature of these relationships across parties. This can help you understand and use parties is the most optimal way in the moment and make adjustments as needs arise to ensure an optimal customer experience.
#3 Optimization that is Intelligently Automated
If you’ve built the foundation for visibility and collaboration, now it’s about automating these decisions for better real-time decision making that yields to faster lead times and improved compliance.
Software that provides supply chain orchestration can help to take in all the information held with your parties, visibility and your supply chain process and begin to execute every order in the best way possible. This information can include constraints (i.e. lead times, delivery agreement, cost, capacity, etc.), partner specific information (i.e. rate agreements, special handling, special services, agreement limits, etc.) and inventory. Best of all, these systems can help to optimally plan your orders in relation to current and future orders, ensuring that your most efficiently fulfilling on your customer orders while delivering a great customer experience.
Supply Chain Orchestration Helps to Embrace Complexity
It’s no secret supply chains are getting more complex but how organizations approach this complexity will determine success. Option one is to veer away from complexity and to water down your processes and partnerships to make it easier to manage. However, with this option you often see higher costs to serve or missed sales opportunities due to lack of reach and execution.
The other option is to embrace this complexity. To accept that complexity is a mainstay based on the specialized and global direction our supply chains are moving. This means you need smarter, faster ways to not only track the variables to determine order success but also need systems that can help you optimize the execution based on this real-time data. Supply chain orchestration is helping to do this for organizations and is your path to truly embracing the changing and more complex nature of supply chain.