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Driving Business Efficiency Through Supply Chain Visibility

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Driving Business Efficiency Through Supply Chain Visibility

In a dynamic business landscape, supply chain efficiency is pivotal to an enterprise’s success. Organizations will increasingly look to leverage innovative technologies to amplify visibility, efficiency, and collaboration, in order to meet customer expectations and maintain a competitive edge. Managing supply chain operations can be a highly inefficient, even chaotic, process in the absence of effective management systems. This is where supply chain visibility software can add considerable value.

Offering real-time visibility into an organization’s entire supply chain, this software enables businesses to swiftly identify and address issues, enhance decision-making, and reduce costs.

Read also: Supply Chain Visibility: Not an End, But a Tool

The Significance of Supply Chain Visibility

Supply chain visibility software enables organizations to track products, goods, and data across the supply chain – gaining live insights into their supply networks, identifying bottlenecks, optimizing inventory levels, enhancing customer service, and elevating overall operational efficiency. As per a study by Market Reports World, the global supply chain visibility software market size was valued at USD 1.205 billion in 2022 and is projected to grow to USD 4.928 billion by 2028 – highlighting the crucial role that such software is poised to play in the years ahead.

As organizations look to select the right supply chain visibility software from an expanding array of options, it is crucial to thoroughly assess the specific objectives and requirements of your business and ensure that the option you select is in alignment with these.

Key aspects to consider when selecting a supply chain visibility software 

1. Define Objectives and Requirements: Outline the specific challenges you intend to address with the supply chain visibility software. Do you require end-to-end visibility or a focus on specific areas? The clearer your requirements, the simpler it is to narrow down options and ensure that the software addresses your business’s unique challenges.

2. Think Scalable and Flexible: It is preferable to opt for software that offers scalability and is capable of adapting to your evolving business needs. Solutions that provide flexibility in their integration capabilities prove beneficial as they reduce the need to change software and retrain employees accordingly, with each significant transition in the business.

3. Evaluate User-Friendliness and Ease of Implementation: User interface intuitiveness has a significant positive impact and can help build a preference for your business among customers. Complex systems impede adoption. Thus, it is important to ensure the ease of implementation of the solution, and the availability of effective support by the software provider, to ensure a smooth transition.

4. Ensure Data Security and System Reliability: Robust security measures and system reliability are vital in supply chain visibility software, to prevent unauthorized access, data leaks, and downtime – all of which can disrupt operations and tarnish a company’s reputation.

Implementation Strategies for Supply Chain Visibility Software

After selecting a suitable software, a well-structured implementation strategy is essential to hit the ground running. Defining clear goals and objectives is crucial as they ensure alignment among team members and facilitate efforts towards common outcomes. Additionally, this clarity simplifies the process of measuring achievement as well as identifying areas that require improvement. An effective approach to ensuring comprehensive coverage of all objectives is assembling a specialized team comprising members from diverse departments. This cross-functional team can contribute their perspectives, articulate their requirements, and highlight their respective goals, thus ensuring a well-rounded understanding of the objectives.

Identifying KPIs aligned with goals – such as on-time delivery, inventory turnover, and supplier performance – and analyzing insights from the software to determine if they are being fulfilled, will provide a real-time understanding of the issues that need to be addressed. Based on the insights gathered from the software, a comprehensive data analysis can be performed to pinpoint areas of improvement.

Another important aspect of implementing new software is upskilling your employees. Comprehensive and practical training covering all technical aspects of the software adopted facilitates a seamless onboarding experience for the workforce.

Measuring Success of the Supply Chain Visibility System

The final step involves the continuous and ongoing process of analyzing KPIs across regular operations. Continue to assess operations by tracking and reporting KPIs related to on-time delivery, cycle times, and feedback from collaborations. Problems in supply chain management can very rapidly cause bottlenecks, underscoring the importance of frequent and diligent reviews for maintaining seamless operations. Access to software that provides useful and comprehensive analytics could potentially mean the difference between success and failure.

The Way Forward

The integration of supply chain visibility software is a significant strategic move that can reshape your supply chain operations. By going that extra mile to analyze objectives, test performance, gather feedback, and continually review operations, you ensure a successful implementation, and process optimization, which in turn contributes to enhancing your businesses’ competitiveness. It’s crucial to keep in mind that effective supply chain management is a continuous journey, requiring ongoing enhancement for sustained success – with visibility software making that process more seamless. Embracing visibility systems will empower your business to successfully build high-performance supply chains.


The Five Most Common Efficiency Issues and How to Fix Them

Undertaking productivity reviews to identify efficiency issues and quantify opportunities for improvement are important. We recommend using a range of work-study and observational techniques that provide diagnostic insights supported by process deep dives.

Work-study options include detailed analysis of a process to measure how long each individual stage takes, giving valuable insights on where to focus to speed up the process and to enable resource planning based on accurate workload calculations. A diagnostic efficiency study can look at teams from warehousing to admin and sales to quantify what proportion of time is spent adding value, undertaking essential tasks and how much time is lost.

We’ve identified the top five efficiency issues:

1. Paper-based processes don’t need measurement to spot them. Paper is slower, less efficient and creates filing and storage requirements compared to digital equivalents. At some stage, paper interfaces with a system and there is a need for data input into an accounting system. Look out for paper in your business and review options to eliminate it and increase your efficiency.

2. Moving to systems from paper doesn’t always mean things run smoothly. Time can be lost due to system delays. This downtime is created when systems don’t work as quickly as the human using them. Typical causes of delays are slow systems and connections that mean colleagues watch the screen loading graphics rather than completing their tasks. Work Studies have found that some contact center teams become so accustomed to working around their slow systems that they instinctively timed their general chat during the call with the delays. Speeding things up would mean a quicker call for the customer and more calls per hour handled by an agent.

Another common system delay issue is dual entry of data as colleagues move between systems that are not integrated at the right points. Colleagues working in multiple systems work most efficiently with dual monitors. Good workstation set up helps too – uncomfortable chairs, missing wrist supports, and monitors at the wrong height are all factors that can impact efficiency.

3. Physical work lends itself more easily to ongoing output measure and monitoring, for example, the number of delivery units handled, or widgets manufactured per hour. Office based activity can be harder to get to grips on and efficiency studies provide a measure of how much time is spent on essential activities and time lost. We’ve worked with a client who found that team leaders in their owned and operated customer services teams spent more time coaching colleagues than their peers in the franchised parts of their operation, which explained the variance in customer experience measurement and business outcomes. Another client found a surprisingly high proportion of time spent on internal emails, calls, and meetings. The route cause was a mix of unclear accountabilities and incomplete customer records that required supporting communication.

Additionally, there was a delay in response times as offices in different parts of the world shut down overnight. We recommended a slight shift in office working hours to give more overlap time between markets and an option to move an offshore support team to mirror the working hours of the team they support. Emails, calls, and meetings can add significant value, yet in many businesess, email and call volume is cited as a significant barrier to getting work done. Efficiency study measures the issue and the opportunity size.

4. Efficiency analysis looks at resource versus demand and shows where a demand peak overwhelms available resources, which in some businesses creates potential lost sales. The opposite of this is where teams are not fully occupied, and work-study observations show a slowdown in the pace of work and increased downtime in ad hoc breaks. We’ve often observed significant variance in downtime across teams within the same business and multi-skilling can help create a more flexible team that can be deployed to better match changing demand. Workload models that calculate how much resource is needed in a team help businesses size their teams accurately and create a global benchmark to eliminate variance.

5. Businesses that move stock have two common efficiency issues. The first is when the volume of stock held overwhelms the storage space it creates inefficiency. Stock needs to be held in an organized way so it can be accessed easily. Too often we see stock stacked behind other lines, making it difficult to find and only accessible if other stock is first moved. And stock in multiple locations, unless all accurately logged in a stock management system, is a recipe for wasted time trying to find stock. To maximize efficiency, measure how many times stock is handled as it goes through your operation. Eliminating unnecessary stock handling will improve productivity and reduce handling costs.


Article by Simon Hedaux, founder and CEO of Rethink Productivity, a world-leading productivity partner that helps businesses to drive efficiency, boost productivity, and optimize budgets.