Seeing the Forest for the Trees Mike Hewitt / Getty Images News

Seeing the Forest for the Trees

Visibility and collaboration are a prerequisite to having an agile and responsive global supply chain.

An Aberdeen Group survey entitled “Supply Chain Visibility: A Critical Strategy to Optimize Cost and Service” found that 63% of surveyed companies with predominantly global supply chains listed supply chain visibility as a high priority. This is primarily due to the fact that visibility is fast becoming a critical strategy for enterprises aimed at reducing costs and improving operational performance with their increasingly complex and multi-tiered global supply-demand networks.

Visibility and collaboration are critical to lean thinking when applied to your supply chain, but they have to be more than just buzzwords as they are really a prerequisite to having an agile and responsive global supply chain.

So it should come as no surprise to Lean aficionados that the top strategic actions that leading companies are taking to relieve some of the pressure from the increasing complexity and cost are focused on collaboration and visibility (which are great ways to reduce waste in an extended supply chain). To do this, industry leaders are trying to establish more seamless systems and process flows both within their own companies and across their global, extended supplier base.

The top strategic actions found in the study were to:

1. Improve internal cross-departmental visibility and integration into supply chain transactions and costs.

2. Streamline processes for easier monitoring, enhanced usability, or efficiency.

3. Improve timeliness and accuracy of data exchange about supply chain transactions.

4. Increase B2B connectivity/visibility into supplier side processes with suppliers, 3PLs and trading partners.

The study found that industry leaders do a better job of closing process and technology gaps within the enterprise and across the multi-party, multi-channel supply chain.

So while many companies may be playing a bit of “follow the leader” in terms of improving collaboration and visibility in their global supply chain, it’s the right thing to do for the long-term health and maybe even the survival of their businesses.

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