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4 Myths about Supply Chain Visibility

Supply chain visibility is one of the hottest topics in supply chain and for good reason. As our supply chains grow larger and in turn get more complex, supply chain leaders are increasingly realizing the gaps they have in their visibility across the supply chain.

While most maintain decent visibility across specific functions such as warehousing and transportation with existing WMS and TMS technologies, many realize the need for more end-to-end visibility across the order. It’s this pace of change that is driving supply chain innovation and we’re seeing that it is also evolving how we think about our supply chain visibility exposing many of the myths we hear about it.

In this post, I’d like to expose 4 common myths in how supply chain visibility is perceived in the marketplace.

Myth #1: Supply Chain Visibility is just track and trace

Transportation is a key aspect of visibility in the supply chain and transparency into this step is not only integral to the customer experience but it’s expected. What we are seeing however is that while track and trace still provides value, supply chain visibility is expanding beyond just this last leg of the end-to-end journey of the order. Instead, companies are beginning to track all the milestones before a product is shipped to better ensure on-time in-full (OTIF) orders. This may include steps in manufacturing, supplier related tasks, pick and pack steps in the warehouse and non-movement transportation milestones like customs in addition to even repair steps for reverse logistics flows.

The key here is that exceptions caught during these steps in the supply chain for a customer order can be corrected much earlier resulting in rarely missing service levels and reducing expedition costs once it reaches transportation.

Myth #2: Supply Chain Visibility is just Internal Processes

In the early days, the best supply chains were built with massive investment from companies building out their own supply chain networks. And while your internal resources are still important, how you leverage suppliers and 3rd party providers is increasingly determining success in delivering a consistently high customer experience.

The fact is B2B or B2C customers don’t really associate a missed delivery or partial order with the service or delivery provider. They associate it with your brand and this reflection has a tremendous impact on repeat customers and business. A bad delivery can have a ripple effect that kills a brand one social share or bad recommendation at a time.

Therefore, we’re seeing organizations begin bringing their strategic suppliers and partners into their supply chain visibility with supplier collaboration technologies. This helps to not only evaluate these partners but also to best leverage them as a potential resource in helping deliver a great customer experience for each customer.

Myth #3: Supply Chain Visibility is the only function of a Control Tower

Supply chain control towers are increasingly becoming popular especially with logistics service providers. With growth of supply chains and in many times growth of companies through acquisition, we see that organizations are often managing an unwieldy technology stack across their organization. Multiple ERP, WMS and TMS (many of which are on different versions) lead to difficulty in gaining visibility across the supply chain. Control towers can help provide this visibility as a single source of truth for the end-to-end order across these systems and critical supply chain steps that your planners can use as the de facto source for ensuring the order arrives on-time and in-full.

However, visibility is only a part of the power of a control tower. It provides the foundation for true supply chain orchestration, or the ability to intelligently execute end-to-end supply chain functions based on the granular supply chain visibility provided by your systems. When a control tower provides not only the visibility but also the execution, it helps to save your team incredible amounts of time and energy on tracking down orders, ensuring they can spend their time on better revenue generating initiatives.

Myth #4: Supply Chain Visibility tells the story of the past

We hear this story too often. A supply chain leader has “good visibility” into their supply chain and they know why there was an exception with every failed order. The problem is that they only know after they already missed their service level windows or so late they are unable to expedite cost effectively. While historical data and insight of past orders is incredibly useful for long-term planning and critical supply chain improvements, it leaves a lot to be desired when it comes to giving your planning team the real-time insight needed to ensure your customers are served today.

If we ask for more from our supply chain visibility ensuring that we understand all the milestones in a customer order, not just transportation, include our suppliers and partners just as we do our internal investments and begin to centrally connect our visibility with a control tower integrated with our execution systems, we’ll be able to better put our long term plans to work in our real-time day to day activities. This means we’ll see exceptions not only in real-time but much earlier in the process and can take action on them to ensure OTIF orders more consistently while reducing our overall inventory and cost to serve each end-to-end order.

As your customer base grows with more complex orders, supply chain visibility is critical to giving your team the keys to making long-term and real-time improvements in your supply chain. It’s not enough to just see what’s happening, it’s about providing supply chain visibility that is actionable in real-time to ensure better customer experiences and in turn drive business success.


Come join us as we talk supply chain control towers and putting your supply chain visibility into action in our upcoming webinar below:

Supply Chain Control Tower


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