Top 5 Steps To Improve Supply Chain Visibility in 2024

Have you taken stock of your supply chain visibility lately? In today‘s disruptive business landscape, comprehensive visibility should be a top strategic priority.

This article will walk you through the top 5 steps to transform disjointed supply chain data into unified, actionable insights. Let‘s get started!

1. Map and Analyze End-to-End Supply Chain Processes

Gaining visibility starts with understanding your current processes from start to finish. Break down the key steps across your supply chain journey:

  • Procurement – raw material sourcing, supplier management
  • Manufacturing – production planning, capacity utilization
  • Warehousing – inventory management, order fulfilment
  • Logistics – freight forwarding, customs clearance, delivery
  • Returns – reverse logistics, refurbishing

Identify all parties involved – suppliers, plant managers, 3PLs, channel partners. Map out how products, information, and finances flow between these entities.

Look out for any broken links that create blindspots. For example, lacking visibility into a 2nd tier supplier‘s component shortage. Or not receiving sell-through data from retailers in real-time.

Unmapped processes are likely to have the biggest visibility gaps. Prioritize mapping steps with unclear tracking or data exchange.

A process flow map like this provides an end-to-end visual snapshot:

[Process flow map example]

Involve cross-functional teams and external partners in this mapping exercise. Their input will help you identify pain points and improvement areas.

According to McKinsey, companies who mapped 100% of processes saw 18% faster cycle times and 50% lower error rates.

2. Define Visibility Requirements Based on Business Goals

Now that you‘ve analyzed current processes, think ahead 3-5 years. What are your growth objectives?

  • Entering new markets?
  • Expanding product lines?
  • Pursuing an omnichannel strategy?

Define what end-to-end visibility means for your strategic priorities.

For example, omnichannel retailers may want visibility into:

  • Real-time inventory across stores, warehouses, drop-shipments
  • Online order fulfillment and delivery performance
  • In-store and ecommerce sales data

Without comprehensive visibility, you operate in silos, unable to leverage integrated insights.

McKinsey estimates supply chain visibility can improve forecast accuracy by 10-40% and reduce cumulative inventory by 15-50%.

But you won‘t realize these benefits without setting clear visibility goals and requirements.

3. Improve Data Collection from Suppliers and Internal Systems

Now comes the heavy lifting. Start aggregating relevant data from key sources:


Onboard suppliers onto integrated portals providing shipment tracking, inventory data

Include visibility requirements in supplier contracts

Internal Systems

Break down data silos with unified platforms like ERP

Leverage IoT sensors for real-time tracking and monitoring

Logistics Partners

Integrate systems to exchange shipment data

Digitize manual paperwork like Proof of Delivery, invoices

Sales Channels

-Capture sell-through data from online marketplaces, retail stores

Get demand signals from channel partners

Integrating data from these sources provides complete visibility coverage.

According to DHL, real-time supply chain data can improve productivity by up to 25%.

4. Leverage Digital Supply Chain Twin

A digital twin replicates your end-to-end supply chain virtually. It enables what-if simulations to foresee and mitigate disruptions.

Key capabilities:

  • AI-powered monitoring of suppliers, logistics, and operations
  • Inventory optimization via predictive analytics
  • Rapid anomaly detection and alerting
  • Simulation of new production or distribution plans
  • Prescriptive recommendations to improve efficiency

This visual snapshot shows how digital twins mirror physical supply chains.

According to Deloitte, digital supply chain twins can reduce product recalls by up to 75%.

While the technology investment required is sizable, the ROI makes it worthwhile.

5. Foster a Digitally Dexterous Workforce

Employees are crucial links in any supply chain. Providing visibility tools and data is useless unless people know how to use them.

Build workforce skills in:

  • [Basic digitization] – ERP, automation, mobile devices
  • [Advanced analytics] – Statistical analysis, visualization, critical thinking
  • [Technical] – Coding, prototyping, app development
  • [Soft skills] – Communication, collaboration, rapid learning

Training methods can include:

  • Digital academies for reskilling employees
  • Hourly microlearning modules
  • Simulations to build muscle memory
  • Mentorship programs
  • Job rotations

These approaches ensure personnel at all levels develop digital dexterity to support visibility platforms. Managers also need the right skills to foster an agile, collaborative culture.

According to BCG, companies employing digitally dexterous talent show revenue growth up to 20% higher than industry peers.

Key Metrics to Track Visibility Improvements

To assess the business impact of enhanced visibility, track metrics like:

  • Forecast accuracy
  • Inventory accuracy
  • Supply chain costs
  • On-time in-full (OTIF) orders
  • Cash-to-cash cycle times
  • Supply chain resilience

Continuously monitoring KPIs ensures your visibility initiatives deliver maximum value. It helps identify potential gaps to address proactively.

For example, a BCG survey found:

Achieve Resilience and Agility

With extensive disruptions becoming the norm, supply chain visibility is non-negotiable. Follow these 5 steps to enable data-driven, agile operations:

  1. Map end-to-end supply chain processes
  2. Define visibility requirements
  3. Improve data aggregation
  4. Implement a digital supply chain twin
  5. Invest in digitally dexterous talent

Taking this systematic approach, you can realize substantial benefits:

  • Proactive risk management
  • Enhanced forecasting and planning
  • Faster cycle and lead times
  • Better regulatory compliance
  • Higher customer satisfaction
  • Competitive edge

In today‘s world, the supply chains with the best vision are poised to come out ahead. Start your visibility transformation journey now!

Similar Posts