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Top 5 Steps To Improve Supply Chain Visibility in 2024

Written by
Shehmir Javaid
Shehmir Javaid
Shehmir Javaid
Industry Research Analyst
Shehmir Javaid in an industry & research analyst at AIMultiple.

He is a frequent user of the products that he researches. For example, he is part of AIMultiple's DLP software benchmark team that has been annually testing the performance of the top 10 DLP software providers.

He specializes in integrating emerging technologies into various business functions, particularly supply chain and logistics operations.

He holds a BA and an MSc from Cardiff University, UK and has over 2 years of experience as a research analyst in B2B tech.
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Supply chain visibility means having an internal view of all the activities and operations happening from the point of raw material extraction to the point of consumption. Enhanced visibility reduces uncertainty and fluctuation in the flow of goods and information across the supply chain. 

Since the pandemic struck in 2020, supply chains across the world have faced disruptions that are still present. This wake-up call is encouraging business leaders to focus more on improving end-to-end supply chain visibility to achieve stronger resilience.

This article explores 5 steps to improve supply chain visibility to tackle the current and future uncertainties in the global market.

1. Analyze the supply chain

Analyzing the supply chain is the first and most important step of enhancing your supply chain visibility. This will help you identify the pain spots and give a clear picture of where the supply chain stands. 

1.1. Connect with stakeholders

One way of analyzing the supply chain can be by organizing meetings with internal and external stakeholders. These include department managers, key suppliers and vendors, and other business partners. Through these meetings, supply chain leaders can identify and understand the weak points across all elements of the supply chain.

1.2. Use process flow mapping

This refers to mapping out all the functions and elements of the supply chain to identify weak points. Here is a simple example:

A simple process flow map of a supply chain.

1.3. Leverage data analytics

Every business these days is collecting and working with large amounts of data. Using data analytics can help supply chain managers to get better visibility across the supply chain. Collaborating data with suppliers and other business partners can help you create a supply chain network with more data sharing and transparency.

2. Identify pain points and prioritize based on strategic goals and objectives

After identifying the pain points, supply chain leaders need to understand these issues and prioritize them according to the organization’s strategic goals. It is important to have a clear picture of what needs to be achieved and to communicate this with internal and external stakeholders.

Consider the following questions:

  • What supply chain visibility solutions can be taken advantage of?
  • How is value created through the supply chain?
  • What are the customer expectations from the supply chain?
  • How do the pain points impact the supply chain’s performance?

The answers to these questions can help in developing strategies, creating teams to execute them, and setting deadlines for objectives.

3. Improve collaboration with suppliers, partners, and competitors

Collaborating with suppliers, business partners, and even competitors can yield many benefits, including increased supply chain visibility.

3.1. Collaborate vertically

This refers to collaborating or partnering with suppliers/vendors, third-party logistics service providers, retailers, etc. Creating strong and long-term relationships with business partners can help streamline the flow of information across the supply chain, resulting in enhanced visibility.

3.2. Collaborate Horizontally

This refers to collaborating with competitors or businesses at the same level of the supply chain. For example, multiple suppliers can share the demand burden and share the same distribution infrastructure.

3.4. Set collaboration goals

While one size does not fit all, some of the common collaboration goals that can help you achieve more visibility across the supply chain are:

  • Enhanced communication with suppliers and other business partners through an integrated communication platform
  • Accumulating and managing a higher volume of data with business partners to identify market trends
  • Sharing data and best practices to foster mutual growth
  • Share resources horizontally in the supply chain, such as warehouse space, distribution plans/logistics routes, etc., to improve visibility, efficiency, and sustainability

You can also check our data-driven lists of supply chain solutions to enhance collaboration and integration across your supply chain.

3.5. Leverage integrated supply chain systems

Integrated supply chain and logistics management software and applications can enable organizations to collaborate with other business partners. These systems allow real-time data sharing and improve visibility across the supply chain.

You can also check our sortable and filterable list of supply chain visibility software to find the option that best suits your business needs

4. Balance digital technology and dexterity

The global pandemic significantly accelerated digital transformation in almost every industry worldwide. Digital solutions such as cloud computing, supply chain automation, predictive analytics, artificial intelligence (AI), the internet of things (IoT), etc., are revolutionizing the supply chain sector by enabling hyper-automation efforts, enhanced visibility, and resilience. Check out our article on how digital transformation can elevate supply chains and logistics operations.

Digital solutions for enhanced supply chain visibility can be implemented in the following ways:

4.1. Leverage DTO

A digital twin of an organization or DTO is a virtual representation of an entire organization. It can help enhance supply chain visibility by providing a comprehensive view of the entire supply chain network, enabling stakeholders to make informed decisions and respond quickly to any disruptions. Here are some ways in which a DTO can improve supply chain visibility:

  • Monitor the supply chain network in real-time, including suppliers, logistics providers, warehouses, and customers.
  • Predict future events and identify potential risks by using historical data and machine learning algorithms.
  • Simulate different scenarios and optimize the supply chain network for efficient and cost-effective movement of goods and materials.
  • Provide a common platform for stakeholders to collaborate and share information, improving communication and overall efficiency.
  • Continuously monitor and analyze the performance of the supply chain network, identifying areas for improvement and implementing changes over time.
  • Provide a holistic view of the supply chain network, enabling stakeholders to make informed decisions based on real-time data and insights.

Learn more about how digital twin transforms supply chains

4.2. Balance digital dexterity

While investing in digital technologies is important for the survival of all supply chains, focusing on digital dexterity is also vital. Digital technologies implemented for enhanced supply chain visibility will fail if the human resource is not prepared and ready to use them. To avoid this, supply chain leaders need to focus more on training and reskilling their workforce.

BCG explains the importance of digital dexterity in the current world.

To learn more about how to strengthen your digital dexterity, check out our comprehensive article.

5. Measure and improve with the help of KPIs

Measure the impact of the efforts done by identifying key performance indicators (KPIs) and using systems and matrices that can measure data to extract useful insights. Establish open lines of communication with your partners to share regular progress reports.

It is also important for supply chain managers to understand that improving supply chain visibility is a process of continuous improvement. Revisit your objectives and goals to maintain the efforts.

You can also check the following sortable lists of supply chain software and tools to find the option that best suits your business needs:

Further reading

If you need help finding a vendor or have questions, feel free to contact us:

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Shehmir Javaid
Industry Research Analyst
Shehmir Javaid in an industry & research analyst at AIMultiple. He is a frequent user of the products that he researches. For example, he is part of AIMultiple's DLP software benchmark team that has been annually testing the performance of the top 10 DLP software providers. He specializes in integrating emerging technologies into various business functions, particularly supply chain and logistics operations. He holds a BA and an MSc from Cardiff University, UK and has over 2 years of experience as a research analyst in B2B tech.

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