Visibility Insights
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Defining Supply Chain Visibility: What It Is & How It’s Achieved

2020 was a tough year for many industries, exposing  numerous supply chain challenges globally. Covid-19 magnified a critical issue of poor supply chain visibility for global shippers. This lack of global visibility throughout the supply chain is amplified  by ineffective collaboration in the industry and lack of data centralization. Unfortunately, much of supply chain  operations management is still driven by manual processes performed in isolated silos of disconnected data sources unable to support a collaborative visibility environment.  

Today, more than ever, user expectation for real-time information is driving the need for supply chain visibility and exposes the lack of communication across disparate systems. End-to-end visibility gives companies greater ability to take the pulse of what’s happening throughout their supply chains. One way to achieve greater visibility is by implementing a visibility software solution. 

In this article, we discuss why it is imperative that businesses have a supply chain data management strategy, and why it’s critical  to partner with a robust SaaS platform to achieve this end-to-end visibility.

Why does supply chain visibility matter?

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According to Statista, in 2018, almost 22 percent of supply chain executives named visibility as their biggest challenge, making it the top issue for the global supply chain. Lack of visibility challenges companies from having insight into  late deliveries, inventory challenges, and transit information gaps.

Visibility matters equally to all participants of the supply chain: vendors, shippers, and customers. For example, 

  • 62 percent of shippers are not aware of the transportation status of their load. 
  • 44 percent state they are unable to give transit data to the customers because of technical complications. 
  • Only 6 percent of companies report reaching comprehensive supply chain visibility. 
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Supply chain visibility is more than just access to all processes and products involved in a global supply chain. It enables firms  to monitor, measure, and manage all their goods  — at any stage of the supply chain. From a business perspective, visibility lets companies centralize supply chain data and forecast spend, spot errors, reduce costs, and increase efficiency — all from one centralized location. This added efficiency also  enables better industry collaboration and leads to superior customer service. 

Ultimately, supply chain visibility goes beyond the idea of transparency. It provides one place for companies to see inbound, outbound, and third-party consignments  across all carriers and modes, for any global region, regardless of where those shipments originated and are  booked.

But gaining this global visibility is not easy, most businesses struggle to make their supply chains more transparent. That is, because achieving end-to-end supply chain visibility comes with many challenges that require a robust freight data infrastructure to support data centralization and harmonization. 

How can supply chain visibility benefit your business?

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Increased margins

Most users rely primarily on Transportation Management Software (TMS)   to lower their freight costs. That’s understandable, as visibility issues account for tremendous margin shortages. Visibility software enables automation, which means retailers, manufacturers, and supply chain managers spend less time on transportation management tasks and can focus on other, more important strategic issues. For example, 70 percent of businesses admit that late deliveries affect 5 percent of their profit margins. Visibility software allows you to increase margins without compromising quality by providing a tool that coordinates and maximizes your visibility to the minute details that would otherwise go unmeasured and unmanaged!

Faster communication

Network collaboration is one of the most significant benefits of a visibility platform. When shippers, vendors, manufacturers, retailers, and carriers come together through the same technology, they can communicate in real-time. Businesses can collaborate on shipping procedures while looking at the same data, at the same time, on one page. This allows for streamlined communication, less chance of service errors, and extra capacity to be spread out to those who need it, among other collaborative opportunities.

Risk mitigation

Risk management is one of the key priorities for companies in 2021 and beyond, especially in supply chain management and logistics. Robust visibility platforms give access to a more proactive approach for detecting risks and threats across supply chains. With real-time updates and streamlined operations, supply chain visibility software makes it easier to get an overall picture and quickly pinpoint gaps. Besides, smart software can track any inaccurate transaction, invalid operation, shipment delay, or even cybersecurity threat. 

Technology integration

A robust platform can integrate with disparate data sources throughout the shipment lifecycle.  And, since carriers are all adopting new technologies and different rates, the integration work shouldnt rest with internal IT teams.  Partnering with a platform ensures companies are always leveraging their partners best technical capabilities. Instead of switching between multiple data sources, you have a real-time view of everything in one place. Such connection tremendously reduces the probability of errors across all parts of the supply chain, including transportation, logistics, and transactions. Visibility software serves as a central unified hub for all of your logistics software. 

Improved planning 

Integration and automation improves data quality and data timeliness which are critical to planning and very difficult to accomplish today. Instead of spending too much time on tedious manual tasks, which allows little time for strategic planning, executives who take advantage of sophisticated visibility software can detect supply chain patterns and operational deficiencies much quicker. This is how visibility infrastructure paves the way for improved planning, better long-term strategy, and advanced analytics. 

Wrapping Up

With all the changes brought into our post-Covid-19 world, global supply chain visibility has become even more important. With a rapidly evolving ecosystem, global supply chain visibility is becoming a ‘core competency’ that suppliers, manufacturers, carriers and software vendors must master. To achieve supply chain visibility, companies need a comprehensive supply chain data management strategy, vision, processes, , and discipline. Agistix is a supply chain visibility platform that provides all the vital tools to simplify global supply chain visibility. Achieve greater visibility through Agistix without burdening IT or changing processes — for you or your partners. Visit Agistix’s Solutions page to learn how we can help.

Author

Trevor Read

Entrepreneur at heart with a passion for data, technology, efficiency, structure, and scale. Trevor is a seasoned software and operations executive with a unique blend of vision, creativity and operational execution. He is result-oriented and committed to developing flexible, scalable, and fast-deployment solutions to help customers seize the new opportunity that comes from big data in the global supply chain.

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