Selecting The Right Supply Chain Transparency Tools in 2024
In a global and interconnected world, businesses are more intricately woven together than ever before. Today, products pass through an extensive, multi-tiered network of suppliers, manufacturers, distributors, and retailers before reaching consumers. Amidst this complexity, the need for transparency in supply chains has become a critical factor for businesses striving for sustainability, regulatory compliance, and competitive advantage (Figure 1).
This article explores supply chain transparency tools and guides business leaders to find the right option for their supply chains.
Figure 1. Top priorities of business executives in the U.S.
What is supply chain transparency?
Supply chain transparency refers to the process of providing clear, accessible, and reliable information about every stage in a supply chain. This includes details about the source of raw materials, manufacturing processes, labor conditions, environmental impact, and the journey of products from suppliers to end-users.
Supply chain transparency vs. supply chain visibility
While supply chain visibility and transparency are commonly interchanged, they subtly differ. Supply chain visibility is about tracking products, components, or materials throughout the supply chain, providing real-time operational insights for efficiency and problem-solving.
On the other hand, supply chain transparency extends beyond this by openly sharing such information with external stakeholders, including details about sourcing, production, labor, and environmental practices.
How can sophisticated software help achieve supply chain transparency?
In the face of growing complexity and emerging challenges, businesses are leveraging digital solutions such as AI and big data to improve supply chain transparency. These digital solutions provide businesses with real-time insights, improve accountability, streamline operations, and enhance decision-making.
Modern supply chain transparency tools are equipped with advanced features like data analytics, Artificial Intelligence (AI), and blockchain technology. These tools enable businesses to track and monitor their supply chains effectively, identify risks and inefficiencies, and take proactive measures to mitigate them.
Imagine a fashion retailer trying to ensure the ethical sourcing of materials. Supply chain transparency tools can identify potential violations in the supply chain, such as suppliers known for poor labor conditions or unsustainable practices. This allows the retailer to take corrective action, reassuring consumers about the integrity of its products and preserving its brand reputation.
The top 5 factors to consider when choosing the right supply chain transparency software
1. Level of Customization
Every business has unique supply chain operations, which a one-size-fits-all tool may not adequately address. A beverage company, for example, might need a tool that allows customization according to its specific bottling and distribution processes.
Having a low or no-code solution can provide the level of customization modern supply networks require.
2. Integration capabilities
A supply chain transparency tool should seamlessly integrate with existing supply chain management platforms. This ensures a streamlined data flow, better communication, and enhanced collaboration among different players in the supply chain.
For instance, a global electronics manufacturer might need a tool that integrates with its existing ERP system to provide real-time visibility into its global supply chain.
3. Number of employees
It is also important that the vendor offers adequate customer support for its solution. Research1 indicates that small to medium-sized businesses, also known as SMBs, may provide a more individualized and tailored service due to their emphasis on prioritizing customer care.
A minimum company size (ideally 25+ employees) can be considered adequate. It is also important to test their customer service capabilities before making any commitments.
4. Type of solution offered
Different businesses have different supply chain needs, making it essential to consider the type of solution a software offers. While some software might focus on inventory management, others might excel in tracking and monitoring suppliers. A pharmaceutical company, for example, might prefer a tool that prioritizes real-time tracking of raw materials to ensure quality control and regulatory compliance.
5. Security and compliance
A robust supply chain transparency tool should offer strong data security and help businesses comply with relevant laws and regulations. For instance, a company dealing with sensitive data might prioritize software that offers end-to-end encryption to safeguard against potential breaches.
Comparing the top vendors on the market
The solutions offered by the vendors compared in this section are low or no-code solutions integrated into other supply chain solutions to help improve transparency.
We selected the following criteria for the comparison because the data related to them was publicly available and verifiable:
- Level of customization
- Integrations to SCM platforms
- Number of employees
The other 2 criteria (types of solution offered and security compliance) need to be evaluated based on specific business cases.
Table 1. Supply chain transparency software vendor comparison
|Integrations to SCM platforms*, **
|Link to supply chain offering
|# of employees on Linkedin as of April 2023
– SAP – Oracle SCM – Mercury Gate TMS – Manhattan – Blueyonder – Coupa
– Siemens Teamcenter
– Microsoft SQL server
Notes (Table 1):
- Based on vendor claims: *
- Not comprehensive: **
- The vendors compared in this table were selected based on the relevance of their offerings and having 25+ employees.
You can also check our data-driven list of no-code supply chain software vendors to find the right fit for your business.
In an era where information is power, supply chain transparency is not just a competitive advantage, but an imperative. The right solutions can transform an opaque, convoluted supply chain into a transparent, efficient, and sustainable operation. By considering the factors highlighted in this article and using the comparison table, businesses can ensure they choose the software that best suits their specific needs.
- No Code Supply Chain: Benefits & Vendor Benchmark
- Choosing The Right Supply Chain Integration Software
- Supply Chain Visibility Software Comparison
If you need help finding a vendor or have any questions, feel free to contact us:
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