October 9, 2023
Highlights and Key Takeaways from the recent Supply Chain Now Webinar "From Chaos to Control: Best-in-Class Supply Chain Visibility"
Supply chain management has become more complex and challenging than ever before. Companies are dealing with a multitude of disruptions, from port strikes and labor issues to material shortages and unpredictable weather events. In this chaotic environment, achieving supply chain visibility has become a top priority for organizations seeking to regain control over their operations and drive business success.
A recent webinar discussion hosted by Supply Chain Now highlighted the importance of moving supply chain organizations from chaos to control by leveraging best-in-class visibility solutions. The conversation featured Heidi Benko, Vice President of Product Marketing and Strategy at Infor Nexus™, a leading multi-enterprise supply chain business network connecting companies to their supply chain partners. In this article, we'll explore the key takeaways from the webinar and delve into how companies are striving to obtain the insights they need to succeed in today's turbulent supply chain landscape.
The Importance of Visibility
Visibility is the cornerstone of effective supply chain management. It goes beyond simply seeing what's happening—it's about having access to the right data, insights, and actionable information to make informed decisions. Heidi Benko emphasized that visibility is not just about observing; it's about understanding and taking action.
Companies are connecting to their supply chain partners to manage external processes such as coordinating shipments, confirming purchase orders, managing invoicing, and tracking shipments. This connectivity enables visibility, collaboration, and the execution of critical processes. However, it's not enough to have visibility; it's about what you can do with that visibility.
The Quest for Earlier Visibility
One of the critical takeaways from the webinar is the importance of earlier visibility in the supply chain. Rather than reacting to issues once they are in motion, companies should aim to get ahead of problems. Earlier visibility allows organizations to identify disruptions at their source and take proactive steps to address them.
Achieving earlier visibility requires connecting with suppliers and partners early in the supply chain process. It involves monitoring the progress of orders, shipments, and production at an early stage to spot potential issues before they escalate. Companies that can anticipate problems and take pre-emptive action will have more options at their disposal to maintain control over their supply chain.
As stated by Heidi Benko,
"A lot of companies are implementing 'visibility' solutions and not getting the value. It's because, once something's moving and in-transit, there's only so much they can do.
At Infor Nexus, we look at visibility as end-to-end supply chain visibility, and that starts as early on as the order. It's about connecting with suppliers - where are they with production? Are they going to complete it on time?
So knowing earlier that there are problems in the global supply chain and what's going on at origin, like are things not being pick."
The Role of Predictive Intelligence
One of the key challenges is the need for predictive intelligence. While historical data can provide valuable insights, it's essential to predict future events and disruptions accurately. Companies must develop the capability to anticipate supply chain issues before they occur and take proactive measures to mitigate their impact.
Predictive intelligence plays a pivotal role in achieving supply chain excellence. It involves harnessing data and advanced analytics to forecast disruptions, delays, and other potential issues. By identifying leading indicators and having earlier warnings, companies can gain a competitive advantage in predicting and managing supply chain challenges.
Benko underlined the need for both historical insights and real-time data to fuel predictive intelligence. However, the accuracy of predictions relies on the quality of the data. Therefore, companies must choose a solution provider that invests in data cleansing and monitoring tools to ensure that their predictive models are based on reliable information.
Contextualization: The Key to Informed Decision Making
Contextualization is the final piece of the puzzle. It's about bringing information into context, providing a clear understanding of events, disruptions, and their impact. Contextualization helps supply chain professionals make informed decisions based on a comprehensive view of the situation. However, companies need multiple things in order to be able to achieve effective contextualization.
Firstly, they need a solution that brings all of the relevant data into one place. By having this, organizations can ensure that everyone is seeing ‘one version of the truth’ and have all of the data required to understand the impact of the disruption as well as what they can do about it rather than spending precious time trying to dig out that information from multiple sources. Secondly, companies need to be able to visualize data effectively. This goes beyond simple maps; it's about presenting dynamic supply chain data in a way that is intuitive and actionable because when users can see the full context of an issue, they are better equipped to make decisions promptly.
Effectively Managing the Order
In the realm of order management, true visibility is far more than ERP notifications for issue tracking. It entails understanding the context of supply chain disruptions, encompassing the entire order lifecycle. Many businesses mistakenly equate visibility with delay notifications but overlook the broader picture. Achieving genuine visibility necessitates consolidating data from multiple systems into one accessible hub, as vital information often resides across various touchpoints and parties.
Moreover, having full access to an order's lifecycle, including product details and sharing this data with all stakeholders involved in order fulfillment and transportation, is imperative. This comprehensive order view empowers decision-makers to proactively address potential delays, shortages, or disruptions at every supply chain stage.
“If you have that full order and the details" says Benko, “you understand what products relate. You understand earlier. You have visibility at every step in the supply chain so you know what’s not going to get fulfilled in time, what’s not going to ship in time, or what’s going to be short. You know where the delays are and you have that context in relation to the order to really understand the impact and to be able to make the best decisions on what to do”.
Harmonizing data from different stages streamlines access to crucial information, improving process orchestration and minimizing errors stemming from mislabeled or inaccurate data. In essence, comprehensive visibility and contextual understanding in order management are indispensable for informed, proactive decision-making and seamless order fulfilment.
The Path to Success
So, how can companies navigate the complex landscape of supply chain management successfully? Here are 5 tips to help your organization move from chaos to control and achieve best-in-class supply chain visibility:
1. Recognize Existing Blind Spots: Begin by acknowledging the presence of blind spots and challenges within your supply chain.
2. Integrate with a Supply Chain Network: Connect your supply chain to a Supply Chain Network to enhance process management with partners and enable continuous data sharing.
3. Prioritize Comprehensive Solutions: Seek solutions that not only provide supply chain visibility but also enable efficient execution.
4. Emphasize Data Quality Assurance: Choose a solution provider that places a strong emphasis on data quality and utilizes monitoring tools to ensure the accuracy of data and predictive intelligence.
5. Utilize a Supply Chain Control Tower: Opt for a visibility solution that includes a supply chain control tower to achieve comprehensive visibility and control.
In today's supply chain environment, visibility, predictive intelligence, and contextualization are crucial components of success. Companies must recognize the need for early visibility and predictive capabilities to proactively address disruptions. Moreover, they should invest in technology, data quality, and control towers to enhance their supply chain management processes. By embracing these principles, organizations can move from chaos to control and achieve sustainable success in their supply chain operations.
About Infor Nexus
Infor Nexus™ is the leading end-to-end global supply chain platform helping companies achieve true visibility for over 20 years. Infor Nexus connects a network of over 85,000 brands, retailers, manufacturers, suppliers, logistics providers and banks on a single-instance network platform to seamlessly orchestrate global supply chain processes from source through to delivery and payment. Companies streamline their operations, eliminating inefficiencies and waste while gaining data-driven insights and optimizing the flow of capital for improved agility, resilience, and sustainability.
Interested in watching the full webinar or learning more about Infor Nexus? Click here to view the full webinar on-demand and fill out the form below to be connected to an Infor Nexus specialist.
Author: James Illidge, Product Marketing & Strategy, Infor Nexus™
James Illidge is a Product and Strategy Manager who has been with Infor Nexus since 2021.