4 Ways to Give Business Leaders Visibility into the Supply Chain

Meagan Douglas
Fri, Jul 1, 2016
Leaders must have visibility into every link of the supply chain.
Leaders must have visibility into every link of the supply chain.

All industries should recognize the growing importance of the supply chain. In a market where consumers buy products and services on numerous channels, the ability to sell and deliver goods through multiple unified strategies is paramount to remaining competitive. 

A Deloitte survey found 79 percent of companies with industry-leading delivery and procurement capabilities achieved significant revenue growth. Of these companies, more than half placed a senior executive in charge of supply chain activities. Prioritizing the supply chain means turning to leaders that the overall business will respect and listen to.

It's also important these leaders have a complete understanding of how the current supply chain operates and where future opportunities may exist. This means using effective communication and mobile data collection technology to create visibility of every corner of the supply chain. Here are four sources for accurate and relevant information:

1. What Partners Can Do
Many supply chains have multiple links in the modern world. Technology makes it easier to communicate with partners around the world so companies can work with business services closer to consumer markets or with particular experience. Food Business News said collaboration is the key to creating complete visibility. This is especially important for products where consumers demand information on freshness and safety.

Supply chain leaders need to research all possible options for distribution routes and warehouse management. Greenbiz shared public resources where companies can look up the obstacles and benefits of particular areas - particularly when looking for eco-friendly options. When first meeting partners, decision-makers should come armed with public research and create channels for fast and consistent communication.

2. What Employees Have to Say
The first stop for a new supply chain executive should be a visit to the company warehouse. To truly understand how inventory management operates, it's vital to speak with the employees who move merchandise, drive trucks and prepare orders.

This is one of the best ways to see what works and what doesn't. When more than one employee voices a criticism of current operations, it's a good indication something needs to change. The Deloitte survey discovered 96 percent of leaders who managed best-in-class supply chains believed innovation was extremely important to growth. If managers want to implement new ideas, they should make purchasing decisions based on employee needs.

3. What Data Shows
Hard numbers can also create an accurate representation of daily activities - provided the company uses data collection devices that deliver real-time results. This is where innovation is especially effective for determining which solutions fit into particular supply chain environments and offer automated features.

Many business operations that require physical tasks use mobile data collection devices to capture information where it's created. Wearable technology can provide warehouse workers with computing options that automatically collect data and leave the users with free hands to pick inventory, according to the RFgen white paper "Making the Case for Wearable Tech in the Warehouse." There are devices that can capture product movements, storage space temperature and employee actions to create full visibility of what happens in supply chain locations.

4. What Consumers Want
Consumers are an important part of every industry. Forbes suggested supply chain logistics management in the healthcare industry must recognize how patients respond to medical supply availability and prefer to communicate.

Watching the speed of inventory movements like replenishment can give supply chain leaders a basic understanding of demand. To create a full view of customer opinions, however, executives should find ways to link inventory operations with customer service feedback. A primary advantage of prioritizing the supply chain should be to see how it benefits and can learn from other business segments. 

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