supply chain management becomes increasingly central to business
strategy, so the need for visibility within the supply chain becomes
Greater end-to-end visibility improves revenue
and reduces costs, while allowing for better management of disruption,
complexity, competition and growing customer expectation, Tech-Pro tells
Supply chain visibility (SCV) is a top
priority for many companies, with 63% of respondents to the Aberdeen
Group’s ‘Visibility in the Supply Chain’ Survey citing visibility as a
Yet, definitions of the concept vary.
Aberdeen Group defines SCV as ‘the awareness of, and control over,
specific information related to product orders and physical shipments,
including transport and logistics activities, and the statuses of events
and milestones that occur prior to and in-transit’¹, while Gartner
prefers the more inclusive ‘E2ESCV’ – or End to End Supply Chain
Visibility, which is aimed at ‘providing controlled access and
transparency to accurate, timely and complete events and data –
transactions, content and relevant supply chain information – within and
across organizations and services operating supply chains.’²
Benefits of Supply Chain Visibility
to CSC’s 9th Annual Global Survey of Supply Chain Progress, supply
chain contribution to revenue increased to 8.5% from 4.0% previously,
making end-to-end visibility in the supply chain a key factor for
In addition to driving revenue, the benefits of SCV include:
Improved communication enhances collaboration between supply chain
partners. This, in turn, enables a more flexible response to real-time
fluctuations in supply, capacity and consumer demand.
• The possibility of achieving true demand-driven planning.
• Cost savings across the supply chain.
• Resilience, particularly better planning for, and response to, supply chain disruption.
• Improved speed across all areas.
• Enhanced customer service.
• Competitive advantage.
Improving Visibility in the Supply Chain
the benefits, 49% of respondents to KPMG’s GMO 2013 are ‘familiar only
with their immediate Tier 1 partners in the supply chain and know very
little about their partners beyond’, while only 9% can assess the impact
of a supply chain disruption within hours.⁴
Research indicates that leaders in supply chain management improve visibility by:⁵
Clearly Defining Expectations: Because visibility means different
things to different stakeholders, clearly defined goals and
expectations, combined with measurable benchmarks, are essential.
• Creating Open Communication between all Partners: Effective collaboration relies on open communication.
Fostering Trusting Relationships: Strong relationships, focused on
shared planning and execution, encourage information sharing.
Investing in Technology: The ability to exploit technology and manage
the resulting data explosion is critical to achieving a competitive
• Identifying ‘Wins’ for Each Partner: Shared success enhances visibility.
South African Success Stories
There are many examples of South African companies improving visibility in the supply chain, with excellent results.
between Imperial Logistics’ Trans-Send Container Logistics and Bidvest
Panalpina for client, Toyota South Africa, has created exceptional
end-to-end visibility in the motor manufacturer’s logistics chain. The
transparency created by access to real time data across all areas has
allowed Toyota South Africa to plan more efficiently and improve
Wallenius Wilhelmsen Logistics (WWL)’s
factory-to-dealer solution for global automaker, BMW, has improved
visibility and predictability in BMW’s outbound supply chain, managing
finished vehicle delivery from 8 factories in Europe, USA and South
Africa. Consolidating under a ‘Lead Logistics Provider’ – WWL – has
created real benefits, including reduction in lead times by 10% to 15%
and lower inventory costs.⁷
Implementing Imperial Logistics’ One
Network technology at Pick and Pay, as part of an overall SCM and
transport management services (TMS) contract, should see the retailer
enjoying the benefits of improved visibility, better alignment of demand
and supply – and estimated savings of 20% on transport costs over the
Improved supply chain visibility offers
many benefits. Is your supply chain looking at ways to improve
visibility? We’d like to hear your thoughts on transparency as a means
of improving demand planning and customer service?
Join our discussion on LinkedIn.
¹: ‘Supply Chain Visibility: A Critical Strategy to Optimize Cost and Service’, Bob Heaney
writing for the Aberdeen Group, May 2013
²: ‘Gartner Quantifies the Benefits of Supply Chain Visibility’, GTNexus, November 2013
³: ‘The Ninth Annual Global Survey of Supply Chain Progress’, CSC, 2012
⁴: ‘Global Manufacturing Outlook – Competitive Advantage: Enhancing Supply Chain
Networks for Efficiency and Innovation’, An Economist Intelligence Unit research
program sponsored by KPMG, 2013
⁵: Various sources including Aberdeen Group/ CSC/ Inbound Logistics/ KPMG
Б: ‘Achieving Supply Chain Visibility through System Integration’, Imperial Logistics,
⁷: ‘A Transparent and Reliable Global Supply Chain: BMW Case Study’, WWL
⁸: ‘Imperial Reduces Costs and Boosts Service for Pick ‘n Pay, Imperial Logistics, 2013