Increasing visibility across end-to-end supply chains

Apr 27, 2021
Supply Chain
Innovation

A new report from the Economist Intelligence Unit (EIU) commissioned by The Association for Supply Chain Management (ASCM) claims more than half of companies lack end-to-end visibility in their supply chains. But what does end-to-end mean in this context and why is it becoming increasingly important?

What is an end-to-end supply chain?

An end-to-end supply chain refers to the entire supply chain design, incorporating each individual function involved in the lifecycle of a product. It usually includes processes from the design and procurement of raw materials, to production, warehousing and distribution, delivery, and sometimes after sales service or reverse logistics.

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End-to-end supply chain visibility

End-to-end supply chain visibility refers to the tracking and logging of operational data related to the entire supply chain process from start to finish, to achieve a precise, holistic view of operations at any level of granularity and at any point along the supply chain. It therefore often involves many of an organization’s departments, including procurement and inventory management, finance, logistics and planning, operations, quality, sales and customer service.

Better visibility helps to improve communication between teams and ecosystem partners, and to solve problems and provide better service to partners and customers. It makes better collaboration possible and relies on effective sharing of information between systems and departments to unlock collaborative opportunities and benefits.

The importance of end-to-end supply chain visibility

Without end-to-end supply chain visibility, it’s hard for supply chain management to manage operations effectively. They require data and knowledge of how various parts of the supply chain are performing, individually and with other areas or functions, so that processes can be measured, optimized and improved to create greater value for the overall value chain.

Weak visibility spots in supply chains impact efficiency and productivity, which in turn affect customer satisfaction and profitability. Even relatively simplistic supply chains involve multiple partners and steps and can therefore benefit from better end-to-end visibility. For larger, more complex supply chains, it has become an absolute necessity.

Upstream vs downstream visibility

The terms ‘upstream’ and ‘downstream’ refer to different sections of an end-to-end supply chain. Downstream visibility describes visibility into operations and processes that relate to getting the product from production into the hands of an end-customer. As it focuses on customer experience, it’s often a priority section for visibility. Upstream visibility covers the processes getting raw materials and components from suppliers through to the manufacturing of a final product. When both upstream and downstream visibility are achieved, an organization effectively has end-to-end supply chain visibility. Having visibility into both of these sections are incredibly important for ensuring maximum productivity and resilience.

Optimizing end-to-end supply chains with better visibility

When systems are able to integrate siloed functions across the supply chain and facilitate the sharing of data, it’s possible to create optimizations throughout the entire ecosystem. These include:

  • Root cause analysis to identify issues in current processes so more effective solutions can be designed and implemented
  • Lean approach to inventory management to help reduce waste, thanks to quicker order fulfilment and improved inventory accuracy
  • Improved measurement of supply chain efficacy through benchmarking
  • More accurate predictions of customer demand with demand planning tools
  • Better human resource planning in response to sudden changes required within the supply chain

The benefits of end-to-end supply chain visibility

A more integrated, collaborative supply chain enabled by end-to-end operational visibility improves the ability of an organization to serve its customers and helps achieve several key benefits, including:

  • More seamless operations from one section of the supply chain to the next thanks to elimination of visibility blindspots
  • Improved supplier relationships
  • Prevention of order and process errors
  • Better customer service levels, satisfaction and retention with an enhanced customer experience
  • Increased cost efficiency and reduced waste, leading to lower labour and material costs
  • Lower inventory costs thanks to better management of inventory with reduced buffers
  • Improved agility to respond to changing market conditions and mitigated risks
  • Less delays thanks to better prediction and detection of issues across the supply chain
  • Shipment status updates in real-time along with accurately predicted ETAs
  • Fewer disruptions with better risk mitigation
  • Better view of business functions with reporting, analysis and insights all enabling improved planning and execution

The challenges of achieving end-to-end supply chain visibility

With so many benefits, why is it that more than half of organizations haven’t achieved some degree of end-to-end visibility throughout their supply chain? The first reason is that supply chains are becoming longer, more deeply layered and more complex. As organizations seek more cost-effective suppliers in geographies further afield, value chains must expand to accommodate.

With more transportation modes and partners involved, the number of systems to integrate in order to gain visibility can be daunting. Secondly, the cost associated with digitalization of supply chains can be off putting. In order to take advantage of new technologies and platforms, there is a perception that upgrading or replacing legacy systems is capital and resource-intensive, though this is not always the case. Thirdly, there is sometimes a lack of understanding or awareness of the available technologies, solution features and differences between providers in the market.

Implementing real-time transportation visibility within an end-to-end supply chain

Fortunately, Shippeo’s platform can easily integrate with legacy systems via a unique API. Our platform connects to all data sources (shipper TMS, ERP or WMS, as well as carrier telematics and ocean tracking networks) to aggregate real-time information and instantly surfaces it in the platform of your choice.

Shippeo's powerful Supply Chain visibility platform gives you instant access to predictive and real-time information for all your deliveries. Shippeo's machine-learning, proprietary ETA algorithm allows you to quickly and accurately anticipate problems, helping you efficiently manage exceptions to mitigate their impact.

Shippeo gives you clear insights into your transportation operations, helping you make better, data-driven decisions. We aggregate precise delivery information so you can reliably measure delivery performance, do unequivocal root-cause analysis, and uncover areas of improvement.

Our dedicated in-house teams will help you and your carriers smoothly onboard onto Shippeo, ensuring your project's success. We've built a complete organization inside of Shippeo, with dedicated in-house teams entirely focused on making your implementation go as smoothly and quickly as possible.

If you want to find out more about the role of real-time transportation visibility in helping your organization achieve full end-to-end supply chain visibility, get in touch with one of our experts.

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