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 the flow of materials, services, and products within their own companies, there are significant gaps in visibility between trading partners, which can create a barrier to commerce.
To learn more about the current state of supply chain visibility, the publication CSCMP Explores... commissioned a study by the research firm Supply Chain Insights. 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 the 78 respondents outsourced 40 percent or more of their manufacturing activities, and 55 percent outsource 40 percent or more of their logistics activities. Despite the involvement of third parties, most companies were managing visibility of their extended supply chain through a combination of spreadsheets and electronic data interchange (EDI). Some connected with their supply chain partners primarily by using spreadsheets, faxes, and phone calls.
The study's authors argue that the extended supply chain is too important to rely on manual or outdated methods of communication. The fact that so many companies still do so, they say, suggests that supply chain leaders must develop a clear definition of supply chain visibility as well as 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 it can be found here.