Four Steps to Increase Supply Chain Visibility

Spend Matters welcomes a guest post from Donna Fritz of TAKE Solutions.

The industry has been focused on technologies that help automate work processes, collaborate with suppliers and manage data – and understandably so. But before we can tackle those greater issues, we need to make sure that there is a complete and detailed view of the supply chain. From there, we can determine which visibility solutions best fit the needs of the organization.

To find the best way of increasing visibility in your supply chain, create a customized approach and rely on strategy to build a business case for implementing new tools and processes. Here are four steps to take:

Analyze your existing systems

Before investing in any business or technology tool, a survey of the land is necessary in order to identify areas of efficiencies in your existing systems to assess where your needs lie.

For example, investigate whether there are any existing gaps in your current MRP. Maybe there are opportunities within your existing systems to get more accurate real-time data for better decision-making and planning. Take a look at the options already available in your current ERP and determine if and/or how simple add-ons, enabled functionalities or untapped data fields may provide greater insight and visibility into the supply chain.

Once you know what you are capable of achieving, you can identify untapped areas of opportunity, which will help narrow your search for the right solution.

Find the biggest disruption points

Once you’ve mapped out existing efficiencies, the next step is to identify and understand the primary pain point on your supply chain that would benefit most from increased visibility.

Varying needs based on individual manufacturing challenges means you must identify your specific needs for the solution according to your own organization, the greater industry demands, and those of your customers or audiences.

Align the proposed solution with resources and mission

When evaluating the best choice, consider a solution that not only diminishes the problem you identified but also is in line with your company’s core mission and available resources.

In terms of regulation, be aware that even if regulatory compliance is not an immediate concern, real-time visibility into inventory and orders can provide real savings in costs associated with lost orders or shipments. Furthermore, having processes in place that provide greater visibility will only make the transition smoother if regulatory concerns arise.

Implement the right solution

Now that you are ready to make a choice, consider the resources available to your company for achieving greater supply chain visibility. Start narrowing down the solution by looking at which software, process or other customization, aligned with the identified needs of your supply chain, will generate the most ROI for your company.

Implement any solution with a phased approach, focusing first on areas that affect the bottom line and processes, as well as those that are already integrated with your system.  Approach your decision and implementation in a step-by-step fashion, and you’ll ensure a solution that delivers the most immediate and valuable improvements in accordance with your organization’s needs.

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