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Visibility definition

Visibility is data monitoring and sharing with particular entities that will affect the effectiveness, speed or resilience of the supply chain. It helps to manage inventory, deliveries, orders, but also to control the efficiency of utilisation of assets.

With visibility you can improve your supply chain and make it more efficient. Visibility most often is associated with tracking and tracing. But there is more to consider.

What is supply chain visibility?

According to Wieland & Wallenburg, supply chain visibility is about awareness of and control over end-to-end supply chain information.

The definition includes:

  • insight in sources of data
  • and whereabouts of goods.

This knowledge enable agile, resilient, sustainable as well as compliant and trusted supply chains. However, knowing what is supply chain visibility is insufficient to incorporate any changes.

Effective supply chain management is based on the integration and management of five types of flows or basic processes

Products

Assets

People

Information

Money

Information hub

Most definitions state that supply chain visibility is the ability to track in real-time and trace past movements of the goods downstream towards the end consumer. The idea works best when the whole business surrounding acts like a hub, passing information about capturing the cargo one to another through the chain and reverse.

steps of information hub

But since such thorough end-to-end visibility is very difficult and expensive to obtain, many specialists would argue that it is worth to ensure it at least from the moment the order leaves the production site until it reaches its destination (a final customer or a shop shelf).

Complex ecosystem

It’s a more significant concept, supply chain visibility not only:

  • accumulates information from business partners/suppliers
  • and your supply chain,

but also:

  • monitors demand triggers on the market, reverse logistics
  • and takes action to create a trustworthy business environment.

The role of supply chain visibility is to help with decision-making and risk mitigation. The undisrupted information access for all stakeholders, including customers is essential to have a fully visible, traceable and transparent supply chain. Unfortunately, creating such an ecosystem is hard to organise and implement.

As complexity increases, it becomes difficult to have complete control of every link in the supply chain. Furthermore, such complexity creates many blind spots which may mislead to wrong conclusions about the logistics or other elements.

Define YOUR visibility

As we mentioned earlier, levels of visibility may vary. As supply chain visibility becomes kind of a buzzword and is associated with many technologies, it’s wise to take a deep breath before moving into the action.

So, what do you need to make your first step towards supply chain visibility?

Well, the answer is simple. You need to define KPI’s and other metrics that are to support your future business decisions.

What you decide to set as your primary visibility factor will have an effect on:

  • establishing data sources,
  • establishing data formats,
  • picking a technology stack and tracking devices,
  • defining integrations needed, and what is most important,
  • the amount of collaboration necessary to execute the vision and build undisrupted information flow.

Don’t ignore this step – it is fundamental to your success

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