Customer centricity and supply chain complexity are defining today’s omni-fulfilment supply chain. In this demand driven, complex network, having end-to-end supply chain visibility is what makes supply chain leaders stand out from the competition. But, how can it be achieved?

The challenge: customer is king in a complex marketplace

Whether the customer is a consumer waiting for a garment ordered online, or a site manager waiting for spare parts needed to ensure uptime of the assembly line, they have one thing in common: they expect lead times to be short, orders to be delivered on time, in full, where and how they want it. And all this at the lowest possible cost. If expectations are not met, they are likely to take their business elsewhere. 

Ensuring timely and correct fulfilment requires efficient planning and execution of supply chain processes. For which you need visibility, upstream towards manufacturers and downstream towards customers, enabling you to be able to take immediate corrective measures in case of disruption. The faster you can react, the lesser the impact and the financial cost will be.

How to avoid the blind spots?

How can visibility be achieved when your supply chain is becoming increasingly more complex with more logistics and trading partners, spread more geographically and with many more fulfilment points which handle a growing variety of SKU’s and order sizes?

1. Capture relevant data in the most efficient way

It’s not about information overload but capturing and sharing relevant data across the critical steps of the fulfilment process. And it is not about changing the entire infrastructure and process - it’s about analysing and optimising what currently exists. For this, you need to be able to

  • Remove the complexity of your supply chain: Define the steps that are critical to ensure operational continuity
  • Ensure operational continuity leveraging legacy systems and processes: use the most efficient operational process that has the smallest footprint on the existing technical and functional environment.

2. Share selected information with all relevant stakeholders

Stakeholders (internal and external) should be able to share and view selected information, even the smaller suppliers, far away, who run their processes in a traditional way. This means you need a data sharing platform (Data Event Execution Platform) which is intuitive and interfaced in a consistent and straightforward way with different existing IT systems used by your suppliers. Ideally it should have easy to use and easy to integrate add-ons to collect data at different stages of the supply chain.

3. React immediately to unforeseen events

Speed is of the essence: you should be alerted immediately when the execution of planned activities goes wrong. The faster you can react in a controlled manner, the better you can reduce or avoid any disruptive impact on downstream processes, e.g. by finding alternative sources of supply, using safety stock or re-routing or reallocating products in transit. Also, the cost of corrective measures can be dramatically reduced.

Summary - key steps to turn your supply chain into a value chain

Implementing an end-to-end supply chain visibility solution will require

  • A thorough analysis of operational execution processes to define which relevant information (ID’s logical links, business events) to capture and share.
  • Expert innovative advice on the right tools, technology and infrastructure to do so.
  • A flexible approach, easy to integrate and adapt to the specifics of your supply chain. 

When implemented correctly, supply chain visibility allows to

  • Answer disruptions with fast and accurate decisions, which removes or mitigates the risk of incorrect/incomplete/late fulfilment further down the line.
  • Reduce cost of corrective measures.
  • Drill down into and better understand past incidents, which leads to operational efficiency improvement in the future

In short, it leads to business agility, better external collaboration – both with trading partners and within the supply chain, and faster business innovation. All this resulting in improved service levels, reduced costs, increasing competitive differentiation and value generation.