Today's supply chains are more dependent than ever on the timely flow of materials, services, and products among trading partners. But according to some studies, one in three companies experienced a material supply chain disruption in 2013. This suggests that while business leaders are able to see flows within their own companies, there are significant gaps in visibility between trading partners, which can create a barrier to commerce.
In the most recent issue of the publication CSCMP Explores..., the research firm Supply Chain Insights reports on a survey-based study (78 respondents) that it conducted to learn about the state of supply chain visibility. The report, "Supply Chain Visibility: A Missing Link in the Extended Supply Chain," outlines what companies can do to improve performance through increased visibility.
The study found that 30 percent of respondents outsourced 40 percent or more of their manufacturing and 55 percent outsource 40 percent or more of their logistics activities. Yet most companies were managing visibility of their extended supply chain through a combination of spreadsheets and electronic data interchange (EDI).
The study's authors argue that the extended supply chain is too important to be connected primarily with spreadsheets, faxes, and phone calls. It suggests that supply chain leaders need to develop a clear definition of supply chain visibility. They also need to identify the appropriate enabling solutions. In many cases, the report asserts, the best way forward is to implement business-to-business networks that allow one-to-many or many-to-many company interactions and enable data harmonization and synchronization.
The report is free to CSCMP members. Information on how to order the report can be found here.