Visibility is a central topic in the management of logistics networks. It enables an accurate representation of your inventories, the support of your operational decisions, and the evaluation of uncertainties in your supply chain through data and information. A 100% visibility of every supply chain step is a long-term vision, but it will not prove to be a constructive approach in practice. In turn, to find the right degree of visibility with the right visibility application for the right use case is the crucial challenge for every supply chain manager.

Supply chain visibility – a nice-to-have?

Supply chain visibility (SCV) is a point which you will find on top of all agendas of supply chain managers. The upcoming technology trends for this year, collected by Forbes, underline the relevance of this statement. SCV is one of the most critical success factors for controlling complex supply chains. Gartner points out, that the increase in SCV has long since ceased to be a “nice to have” for any company, regardless of size, region or industry.

Supply chain visibility is the exchange and availability of information and data between and within companies. The focus lies on track and trace conditions and locations of goods and assets, predictive forecast as well as demand data and an improved view of upstream and downstream business partners. In short, visibility means control and management of your supply chain. So, the question one should ask himself or herself is `Can we afford to lack control over our logistics processes?´.

Visibility as a decision-enabler

Of course, most companies will claim to have their supply chain under control. But would you agree with them? In a fast-moving VUCA world like ours, unanticipated changes are inevitable, and incidents are order of the daily business. These are the situations at which supply chain managers have to make small to far-reaching decisions every day. Good and well-founded decisions can only be made based on correct, relevant and complete information. And that’s where supply chain visibility takes on. SCV is designed to provide supply chain managers a complete picture at any time and at any point in their logistics processes.

Supply chain visibility is, of course, not about the blind accumulation of collected data, but about transferring the collected high-quality data into information. Data should therefore meet criteria such as real-time, comprehensive, meaningful and targeted in order to draw the right conclusions. The quality of decisions is hence directly related to the quality of data.

Visibility as an industry-independent value

But what approaches are there and, more importantly, which are the most promising? What to consider, both in selecting the provider and later in the project? What are the best practices and how can companies benefit from these examples?

The importance and positive impact of supply chain visibility can be observed across various industries though the motivation may be different and highly industry specific. For example, in the pharmaceutical industry factors such as protection against counterfeit, in the consumer goods industry the risk of shrinkage, the traceability of shipments in the logistics industry or the complete compliance with the cold chain in the food industry can be the focus. The correctly tailored application of visibility can achieve these goals, as can be seen in many practical implementation projects of companies in the last couple of years.

Counteract mismanagement with the right approach to visibility

Incorrect decisions and lack of control lead to mismanagement. The mismanagement of logistical processes is a constant cost driver for every company. Due to the speed and complexity of today’s supply chains, the cause of costs and grievances is not always recognizable in a lack of visibility. But as the practical use cases show, visibility is often a solution to these problems. The use cases demonstrate exemplary that the complexity of visibility can be easily addressed in small steps, and that the individual specificity of visibility responds to one’s own needs.

The success of a visibility project therefore depends on the correct choice of the visibility application, the embedding in the logistic processes and organization and the individually adapted orientation in order to respond to the distinct challenges. CAMELOT is the right partner to advise you in the wide market of visibility, both from the technical and the organizational side. Together, we create the foundation for control and decision-making in your supply chain.

Read more about practical examples of SCV in our forthcoming blog post series of supply chain visibility use cases.

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