Industry Trends

Supply Chain Visibility, Transparency, and Traceability: What Is The Difference?

Modern supply chains are becoming increasingly complex and interconnected, posing a multitude of control challenges. An integrated supply chain can keep you up to date on all current processes and also helps you to proactively identify trouble spots before they become problems. Visibility and concurrent monitoring help expedite reactions to disruptive activities, reducing or eliminating harm.

Visibility, when defined differently by various supply chain players, can lose its initial meaning and/or become confused with other supply chain terms, like traceability and transparency.  All of these processes are strongly connected, but they differ significantly in terms of perspective and scope. To understand this difference and why it is important, let’s take a closer look at each definition. 

What is supply chain traceability?

Supply chain traceability is the act of tracing the ownership, route of goods, and their components from the beginning of the supply chain to the end of the supply chain.

There are several advantages to maintaining traceability, and certain industries have been doing so for many years, such as food and medicines, where product safety is paramount. Traceability can also offer the opportunity to seek cost savings, comply with regulations, connect with and fully comprehend the players in the upstream supply chain, and, of course, advise customers about the origins and journey of products, whether this is through images or searchable QR codes on wrapping.

In the context of sustainability, traceability allows a corporation to make and verify credible sustainability claims. So, traceability’s main purpose is to inform the end-user about the product’s entire lifecycle and prove its validity. This is especially critical for end customers in the retail, food, medicine, and agriculture sectors 

What is supply chain visibility

Supply chain visibility means having access to all operations and items engaged in the supply chain. Transparency and real-time knowledge into, among other things, shipments, inventory levels, transactions, activities, and payments are provided. Supply chain visibility refers to the ability to track and trace everything that occurs in the supply chain, from initial raw materials to production, and then finally on to the end-user.

Visibility helps organizations keep control over their supply networks in today’s business environment. With the offshoring model, complex supply chain tasks are increasingly being remotely supported and/or outsourced, leading to limited control and visibility.

In sum, global supply chain visibility is the ability to see all available data from the perspective of one stakeholder. Not every supply chain party can have visibility built into their supply chain unless there’s a shared visibility platform. Here, we come to a broader term — supply chain transparency. 

What is supply chain transparency?

The approach for disclosing supply chain and source information to stakeholders is referred to as supply chain transparency. Transparency is characterized by what information you will be open about, who you will be transparent with, and how frequently you will share relevant information. Transparency in processes enables firms to handle exceptions proactively, minimizing costs and optimizing operational efficiency. 

Who: Who requires access to supply chain data, and why? Internal stakeholders, multiple-tiered suppliers, clients, and customers are all examples.

What: What data is being exchanged, and how is it being shared? Is it a list of suppliers or a map? Is there more than one tier? What information is required to be included?

When: How frequently will the data be disseminated and revised? Companies are under pressure to get information closer to real-time, but doing so is difficult.

Transparency is an excellent technique to demonstrate sustainability efforts and openness to stakeholders. Many businesses have embraced openness to respond to criticism, despite the fact that full traceability is currently unachievable. Transparency seems to cover the widest range of access and visibility in supply chains, providing multiple perspectives and sharing data in what is very close to real-time. 

What is the difference between supply chain visibility, transparency, and traceability?

Ultimately, while all of these terms in one way or another mean obtaining access to supply chain information, the definitions are still different in terms of scope, timeliness of data, access capabilities, and needs of stakeholders. 

The distinction is based on who is employing it. Visibility is vital from the standpoint of the provider, and it is the same as transparency and traceability for the customer. 

Transparency is what and how a firm communicates that information to consumers, partners, and stakeholders. Visibility gives a firm the knowledge of operations across its supply chain; transparency is just what and how it conveys that knowledge to consumers, associates, and stakeholders.

Regardless of your objective, obtaining any of these characteristics requires strong tech support and practical data interpretation. By investing in visibility platforms or software, companies can reach visibility, traceability, or transparency depending on their current needs. 

A supply chain visibility platform is software that allows you to track items as they journey from the manufacturer to the end consumer, from raw materials to finished goods. In addition to shipment tracking, visibility software gives insights and facilitates operations across the supply chain.

A supply chain visibility platform is a critical tool for providing a streamlined and transparent supply chain. It may help businesses streamline operations via real-time tracking of goods and inbound and outgoing transactions; accessing historical data, and assessing supply chain gaps.

Reach supply chain transparency with the Agistix platform

Agistix can position your firm to tackle all supply chain concerns with our comprehensive visibility software. Our key advantage is a seamless connection that does not necessitate any adjustments to your normal company flow. After implementation, you will see results in as little as four weeks, with benefits that include: 

  • Reduced costs
  • Automated operations
  • End-to-end visibility into any transaction and shipment
  • Improved order fulfillment and inventory
  • Reduced labor costs
  • A proactive approach to detecting supply chain gaps 

We are totally aware of the bottlenecks in your supply chain. Because of our extensive business experience, we can give a versatile, user-friendly software solution that will provide unparalleled insight into your global supply chain. Want to learn more? Contact us today!

Author

Trevor Read

President at Agistix based in San Francisco. I am an entrepreneur with a passion for data, and technology. I am results-oriented and committed to developing fast-deployment solutions to help customers seize the new opportunity coming from big data in the global supply chain.