Supply chain visibility:
How to get the insight you want


As your company strives to improve its supply chain visibility, you face three significant challenges:

As your company strives to improve its
supply chain visibility, you face three significant challenges:

1.
Your supply chains are complex. You need logistics transaction data for all your essential products and all their key components. You also need transaction data for all outsourced logistics services, across your global operations.
complex-supply-chain
1.
Your supply chains are complex.You need logistics transaction data for all your essential products and all their key components. You also need transaction data for all outsourced logistics services, across your global operations.
complex-supply-chain
1.
Your supply chains are complex. You need logistics transaction data for all your essential products and all their key components. You also need transaction data for all outsourced logistics services, across your global operations.

complex-supply-chain

data-hart-to-collect
2.
The data is hard to collect from so many sources. To achieve real visibility, you must gather information from thousands of sources. You have to connect to each of your trading partners, service providers, and internal systems.
data-hart-to-collect
2.
The data is hard to collect from so many sources. To achieve real visibility, you must gather information from thousands of sources. You have to connect to each of your trading partners, service providers, and internal systems.
2.
The data is hard to collect from so many sources. To achieve real visibility, you must gather information from thousands of sources. You have to connect to each of your trading partners, service providers, and internal systems.

data-hart-to-collect

3.
Much of the data is inconsistent and of uneven quality. Each system stores and uses data in its unique format. Even within your company, your systems are seldom consistent in the way they store and use data. Someone must standardize and normalize the data before you can use it. You’re never sure how much of it you can trust in making supply chain decisions.
multi-source-docs
3.
Much of the data is inconsistent and of uneven quality. Each system stores and uses data in its unique format. Even within your company, your systems are seldom consistent in the way they store and use data. Someone must standardize and normalize the data before you can use it. You’re never sure how much of it you can trust in making supply chain decisions.
multi-source-docs
3.
Much of the data is inconsistent and of uneven quality. Each system stores and uses data in its unique format. Even within your company, your systems are seldom consistent in the way they store and use data. Someone must standardize and normalize the data before you can use it. You’re never sure how much of it you can trust in making supply chain decisions.

multi-source-docs

To overcome these challenges, you’ll need three capabilities:
1.
An efficient way to
acquire data from
diverse information
systems.
exchange-data
2.
Visibility systems to
present, analyze, and
manage the data
you collect.
analysis
3.
A way to ensure
the data you receive
is consistently of
high quality.
quality-checkmark
To avoid delay, frustration,
and possible disappointment
in implementing and
using your visibility systems,
follow these four planning steps:

1.
Be clear about the level of supply chain visibility you want.

You can implement visibility systems at three levels of sophistication:

  • Track and trace
  • Supply chain control towers
  • Supply chain performance management
  • Track and trace
  • Supply chain control towers
  • Supply chain performance management
2.
Track-and-trace systems
offer simple visibility to
the status of current and historical shipments.
offer simple visibility to the status of current and historical shipments.
eye-track
The information they provide may not be current enough for you to adapt to fast-changing situations. Track-and-trace systems may offer only a limited or fragmented view of activity in some parts of your supply chain. They may not provide a central, comprehensive view across logistics service providers, geographies, business units, products, national borders, transportation modes, or shipping lanes.

3.
Supply chain control towers provide

a centralized view across multiple supply chains.
a centralized view across multiple supply chains.
eye2
Some control towers provide visibility across multiple logistics service providers, geographies, business units, national borders, transportation modes, and shipping lanes.

Many control towers issue updates and alerts in near real time, using a process of management by exception. In principle, such alerts enable you to take actions that mitigate supply chain risks. Or you can take advantage of fast-changing situations.

Vendors of control towers may claim to offer what they call “end-to-end supply chain visibility.” If they don’t define such claims, you must ask to be clear about what they mean.


4.
Supply chain performance management systems help you see what’s

happening across all your supply chains, in near real time.
happening across all your supply chains, in near real time.
The best of these systems monitor inbound, outbound, and reverse supply chains.
eye4
They may also track and report such factors as:
  • on-time delivery to customers
  • service-level information
  • the profitability of individual products
  • the profitability of serving specific customer locations.

They may help you manage:

  • cost-to-serve
  • the profitability of individual supply chains
  • the profitability of relationships with individual customers.

To track all these factors,
supply chain performance systems
bring together item master data
and financial information
from a variety of internal systems.
To track all these factors, supply chain performance systems bring together item master data and financial information from a variety of internal systems.

Identify the data sources that will feed
your systems.
Identify the data sources that will feed your systems.
Once you’ve determined the level of supply chain visibility you want, consider the challenges you’ll face in keeping your systems supplied with current, accurate data.

Your data challenges become more complex as you progress from one level to the next.

A company with global supply chains and heavily outsourced logistics services is likely to identify thousands of data sources.

table

It pays to identify and address the related data
challenges before you implement new visibility systems.

Otherwise, your new systems
may not deliver the performance you expect.

No matter how good a visibility system may be,
you can’t escape this rule:

It pays to identify and address the related data challenges before you implement new visibility systems.

Otherwise, your new systems may not deliver the performance you expect.

No matter how good a visibility system may be, you can’t escape this rule:

“Poor data quality yields poor visibility.”


Plan how you’ll exchange data with your sources.
If you built a separate interface for each key data source, how many years and how much labor must you
invest before you see real benefits from your visibility systems?

Besides building interfaces to exchange data,
you’ll have to address these data-related issues:
  • Security measures to protect your data and your systems.
  • Mapping of individual data elements between your databases and theirs.
  • Interpretation of their data values so they’re consistent with yours.
  • Standardization of inconsistent data elements, such as different spellings for city names.
  • The process could take weeks and hundreds of hours of labor for each mapping.
  • Assess your data quality. If your data quality is low, explore ways to improve it.
  • Low-quality logistics data is the Achilles heel of all supply chain visibility systems.
Before you spend time and money to implement a system,
audit the quality of data that will feed it.

Remember that most IT organizations don’t consider poor data quality to be their problem. So they may
not offer solutions to fix it. Don’t let this take you by surprise.
If you built a separate interface for each key data source, how many years and how much labor must you invest before you see real benefits from your visibility systems?

Besides building interfaces to exchange data, you’ll have to address these data-related issues:
  • Security measures to protect your data and your systems.
  • Mapping of individual data elements between your databases and theirs.
  • Interpretation of their data values so they’re consistent with yours.
  • Normalization of inconsistent data elements, such as different spellings for city names.
  • The process could take weeks and hundreds of hours of labor for each mapping.
  • Assess your data quality. If your data quality is low, explore ways to improve it.
  • Low-quality logistics data is the Achilles heel of all supply chain visibility systems.
Before you spend time and money to implement a system, audit the quality of data that will feed it.

Remember that most IT organizations don’t consider poor data quality to be their problem. So they may not offer solutions to fix it. Don’t let this take you by surprise.

audit

Trax can help you in each of the four steps we
recommend here. Specifically, we’ll help you:
  1. Clarify the level of supply chain visibility you want.
  2. Identify and evaluate the data sources that will feed your systems.
  3. Plan how you’ll exchange data with your sources.
  4. Assess and improve your data quality.
The Trax collaborative Logistics Network Platform can help you
connect efficiently to your diverse data sources.

Trax can help you in each of the four steps we recommend here. Specifically, we’ll help you:
  1. Clarify the level of supply chain visibility you want.
  2. Identify and evaluate the data sources that will feed your systems.
  3. Plan how you’ll exchange data with your sources.
  4. Assess and improve your data quality.
The Trax collaborative Logistics Network Platform can help you connect efficiently to your diverse data sources.

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