Never before have the vulnerabilities of complex global supply chains been so exposed as today. Long and unreliable lead times, lack of capacity across the supply chain, congestion at ports, suppliers unable to deliver to promise and number of customer orders going through the roof. If a company is not able to create the necessary visibility and control in its supply chain this will seriously jeopardize the business. To support brand owners BCI has developed a framework with 6 tactics to create control in these uncertain times.

Many companies operate in the dark and are faced with this lack of visibility both upstream as well as downstream. A recent BCI survey indicated that 85 % of the companies are still lacking the visibility and control mechanisms needed to navigate through these “stormy” times.

When checking the internet or logistics magazines, hundreds of examples on companies with issues related to lack of control on ether their upstream supply chain, downstream supply chain or even both. Next to that examples of advanced solutions are also presented by the dozens.

However, the maturity of companies related to visibility & control varies strongly. A recent study of McKinsey concluded that spreadsheets remain the top method used for supply-chain planning.

In BCI’s practice, we notice that a lot of companies see the urgency and are working on the topic of supply chain visibility and control. However, these companies often do not really know what is possible and where to start. This uncertainty is often linked to the level of the company’s maturity related to its supply chain organization. To support our clients, BCI developed a framework with 6 tactics varying from basic to more advanced solutions with the objective to support companies in multiple stages of the “visibility-maturity”.

BCI’s visibility & control tactics framework

BCI’s visibility & control tactics framework

1. Create dashboard

Start to standardize and measure your Supply Chain Key Performance Indicators (KPIs) and implement a dashboard. Although this does not provide real-time visibility, it will indicate potential problems areas and provide input for the strategic improvement agenda.

2. Process review

Review and improve the current shipping and planning processes (e.g. via a value stream mapping). Specific focus should be in breaking through silos in the organization. An example BCI encountered when doing a process review at a global MedTech company was an average of over 50 e-mails per ocean shipment with all the related delay in response time.

3. Data management

“You can’t improve what you don’t measure.” (Peter Drucker), therefore the creation of a data lake and the integration of multiple data sources is a basic element in the creation of visibility. Solid data management is also the foundation for more advanced solutions.

4. Outsource transport management

Since a transport is often a blank spot in a company’s visibility & control arena, outsourcing the management of your transport to a so-called Fourth Party Logistics Provider (4PL) is considered a viable tactic. Use the proven “people, processes & systems” as well as the experience of these 4PLs will for certain improve control on your shipments.

5. IT solution to improve visibility & control

Adding IT tools to the equation is also a proven tactic to improve control of a company’s supply chain. The first question to answer what the scope of the IT solution should be. Is a visibility platform sufficient, does one require the functionalities of a Transport Management System or is an integration of the physical and the planning world and therefore a true End-to-End solution needed?

Examples of IT solution providers

Examples of IT solution providers:

6. Advanced IT solutions

A last tactic BCI distinct is the implementation of advanced IT solutions, End-to-End systems and beyond. Technologies to be considered are blockchain, AI, RPA and RFID. When at this stage a company is really moving towards a “self driving supply chain”. Concluding: visibility and control in the Supply Chain is both key as well as difficult to achieve in this age in which “perfect storms” seem to follow each other rapidly. However, there are several tactics that can support companies taking control of one’s Supply Chain. BCI’s 6 tactics framework and related knowledge can support companies to explore, analyze and potentially implement these solutions.

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