How to Build Better E2E Visibility into Your Supply Chain
In the past, supply chain businesses would operate as silos of information, and that worked out for some time. However, times are changing and this old-school way of thinking must adapt to better handle today’s demands. No longer can a company afford to treat every stage of the supply chain as singular bastions of information only pertinent to their function, clueless of what issues arise in other stages.
With the rise of technological advances, companies have more tools to incorporate better E2E visibility among the supply chain from start to finish. Here are some ways to build better E2E visibility into your supply chain.
Best Practices for Building Better E2E Visibility
Identify clear KPI’s (Key Performance Indicators)
Understanding what success looks like to your understanding should be one of the first goals when thinking about better end-to-end visibility. Without KPI’s, you’re driving in the dark without a GPS to tell you whether you’re closer to your goals. KPIs are clear, measurable indicators of whether your company is on the right track towards your overall goals.
Transparency across Supply Chain
One of the most effective ways of achieving better visibility is by adopting more transparency with every link in the supply chain. This means having an integrated, holistic mentality.
Let’s take for example your supplier. Some businesses will see their suppliers in a limited fashion and won’t take into consideration issues they’re facing. Bottlenecking, insufficient levels of raw material, stalled inventory, and sourcing issues are all factors that may affect not only the supplier but every level of the supply chain if not addressed.
Recognizing suppliers as long-term partners can begin to implement more proactive solutions that will trickle down the line. This also will help to reduce the need for silos of information, which can detrimentally affect the whole operation if there is information that only a certain department is aware of.
Uniformed Technology and Systems
Investing in similar technologies across the supply chain will also accelerate the flow of information between the supply chain by simplifying how the information gets passed along. If your warehouse uses outdated technology that requires manual data input or is incompatible with other members of the supply chain, informational gaps will stall the ability to identify potential risks and exceptions in the warehouse.
With systems that flow seamlessly from end to end, there’s a greater chance to gather and analyze data to determine where exceptions take place and how to solve and prevent them from happening. Cloud technology, Internet of Things (IoT), Enterprise Resource Planning (ERP) and data analysis systems can all assist in this endeavor.
Customer Demand Planning
Knowing what the customer wants, when they want it, and how much of the product they want is pivotal in making procurement decisions, selecting which supplier can better fulfill orders, and shortening lead time. Big Data can track the history of customer orders, seasonal trends, and other markets to analyze customer demand. Using Big Data to analyze customer trends will allow businesses to better plan ahead and ultimately minimize lead time and lower costs.
This goes hand in hand with end-to-end visibility. If each team knows what the other is going through or planning, everyone is on the same level and can assist with issues that arise and even suggest ideas for better managing exceptions when they occur. This not only increases synergy within the supply chain but also empowers every partner to treat the operation as a whole and increase productivity. This also helps employees take a more active role in the organization.
Human Capital Asset Planning
Knowing market trends and customer demands won’t mean much if there is a shortage of employees. Without planning, some employees may be left staying late while others may leave on time because they’re not aware of each other’s workload. Employee turnover and burnout are particularly divisive because they can spread among the team if not addressed properly.
Human Capital Asset Planning is not just making sure the company is well-staffed. It also delves into proper training, identifying skills and strengths, motivating, and listening to employee’s concerns. This can be achieved by team-building exercises, continuous training, employee reviews, and daily to weekly meetings.
Utilize Lean Principles
Lean Principles adhere to shedding waste and non-value-adding processes into every link in the supply chain to obtain maximum efficiency and keep costs at a minimum. Lean principles also call for continually improving processes and learning how to improve every process.
The saying, “If it ain’t broke, don’t fix it” won’t find much standing with lean principles, and this mentality is quickly becoming a vestige of an old school mentality that has no place in the present.
Achieving end-to-end visibility requires a shift in thinking. From “Us vs Them” to “We’re All In This Together.” It demands participation from every Supply Chain level in the decision-making process and breaks down barriers that previously separated suppliers, manufacturers, procurement, warehousing, sales, customer brokerage, customer service, and all other stakeholders in the company.
To meet the growing demands of today’s marketplace, companies must find way to implement better E2E visibility strategies to proactively evolve their business and leave past limiting beliefs behind.
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