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How to Gain Visibility Across Your Entire Supply Chain

By david.yarbrough | February 16, 2015 | Blog

Supply chain visibility (SCV) is the ability to track parts, components or products in transit from the manufacturer to their final destination. It allows you to know exactly what everything in your supply chain is and where it is at. Having clear supply chain visibility gives you a distinct advantage, reducing your costs and streamlining your processes. Here are a few ways you can improve your supply chain visibility.

Analyze your existing system. Where are your greatest disruption points? What areas need the most improvement? Which solution will save you the most time and money? How could improvements align with your overall vision? What resources would be needed to implement your plan?

Start with a clear vision of your expectations for your vendors, your company, and your customers. Then communicate with all stakeholders and map out your relationship in an open environment so everyone is on the same page.

Find the right vendors and let them do their job. Once you find the vendor that can provide you with what you need and you’ve confirmed that your goals align, allow them to work within that agreement. Expect them to perform as agreed and enforce their compliance if they don’t.

Invest in technology. It’s not difficult in this day and age to find technology that makes your business run more efficiently. A good WMS can streamline your supply chain with business to business integration and provide you with the visibility you need. Think of it as a central hub, like a control tower. Businesses communicate with each other in compatible formats so orders and information are received electronically. RFID and barcode scanner make tracking through your warehouse simple and efficient. Make your tracking program so efficient that inventories become a thing of the past.

Set up an evaluation matrix. Define your expectations clearly and set up benchmarks for compliance.across your supply chain. Set minimum standards with notifications if they aren’t reached so course corrections can be made in a timely manner. Use your WMS reports to find disruptions points that cost you time and money.

Know what your customers want. Collecting information about customer preferences help you cater products specifically for them. Let customers track their packages in real time. Reverse logistics can shorten turnaround time for customer returns. An intuitive system that track preferences can reduce returns in the first place.

Make continuous improvements. Once in place, your system should provide you with feedback showing where inefficiencies are present and allows you to make important changes. Changes can be made over time, if necessary: they don’t have to be made all at once. Your WMS should be dynamic and able to respond to changes in technology and markets. Implement changes that give you the biggest return on your investment. A good business to business communication system lets you respond to your vendors and customers needs before they become a problem.