Just the other day, I needed to pull together some personal finance information and I quickly realized how many different sources I had to access just to get some “visibility” into my financial life. Most of us probably have multiple accounts, checking, savings, 401K, IRA, mortgage, credit card, etc. It got me thinking; wouldn’t it be great to have all this information in one place? Wouldn’t it be wonderful to have a dashboard for your life? Wouldn’t supply chain management dashboards to display data from systems such as warehouse management software simplify your work life?
Let’s look at the business world and the challenges associated with managing a complex supply chain. The supply chain is no longer a controlled entity within the four walls of a warehouse. Today, it is a network of resources, scattered across facilities and entities in different cities and countries. To be effectively managed, supply chain resources need to be linked. This includes suppliers, partners and customers; each with a different role within the supply chain, each one operating as a hub in the movement of goods as well as the flow of information in the supply chain.
Visibility for today’s companies is driven by strong competitive pressures and the need to:
- Improve on-time delivery and reduce lead times
- Reduce working capital and manage variable costs more effectively
- Update customers of product availability and shipment status
- Track and trace products throughout the entire supply chain
Of course, it is not enough just to have visibility, in today’s fast paced, information overload world; we are too often stuck in reaction mode. We require the ability to proactively push information to the appropriate people when key events occur that require action. It doesn’t help me much to see on tomorrow’s dashboard which orders could not get fulfilled yesterday due to inventory stock-outs. Powerful notification functionality in performance management software helps keep operations on track. When an exception is detected, an alert is sent out to the relevant decision maker(s) who can then use available tools to address the implications of remedial action.
Best in class companies are becoming quick, flexible and using their visibility within the supply chain as a competitive advantage. What steps have you taken to improve your supply chain visibility? Have you adopted any performance management tools to empower your people to take proactive steps to enable a smooth and efficient supply chain? Please share your thoughts/stories on steps you have taken to improve visibility for your company.