6 Benefits of Supply Chain Visibility

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6 Benefits of Supply Chain Visibility

You probably already have a general idea that supply chain visibility benefits your business. But what are its exact advantages?

In the simplest terms possible, you cannot solve a problem if you don’t know it exists, or if you cannot track it to its source. In today’s vast and complex global supply chains, issues with your products and manufacturing can arise halfway across the globe. Without visibility into your supply chain, you might not even know you have a problem--until it’s too late to avoid the damage.

In this article, we will explain exactly what supply chain visibility is, and why it is crucial for ensuring high quality production standards, ethical practices across your supply chain, and ultimately, the success of your business.

What is Supply Chain Visibility?

A business can be said to have supply chain visibility when it can track all parts, materials, components, and products moving along its supply chain. Businesses that have achieved high levels of supply chain visibility benefit from greater insight into their supply chain’s daily performance, including in such aspects as:

  • Production efficiency
  • Quality Control (QC) and compliance
  • Product defects and supplier performance
  • Raw material origins
  • Factory health and safety standards, and more

Many businesses are familiar with their direct (tier 1) suppliers, but visibility beyond the first tier remains a struggle. However, as more businesses are seeing the benefits that come with greater oversight of their supply chains, companies are driven to gain visibility across their entire sourcing ecosystem, including component and raw material suppliers, mills, subcontractors, etc.

Why Does Your Business Need Supply Chain Visibility?

Supply chain visibility is absolutely critical for any business--but especially one that sources materials, parts, or products from around the world. Without it, production problems, regulatory compliance failures and ethical risks will happen in the dark, quickly spiraling into disruption and real supply chain crises that will cost you time, money and reputation. 

By contrast, when you keep your finger on the pulse of your sourcing and maintain supply chain visibility in real time, you have access to meaningful data to make informed decisions and address problems before they escalate. The result is a supply chain that is both agile and resilient--the two key features that are critical to survival in today’s volatile global trade environment.

The short answer to the question “why do you need supply chain visibility?” is: your business is unlikely to survive without it.


6 Benefits of Supply Chain Visibility

Having insight into every link of your supply chain can have an immense impact on every aspect of your business’ operations. Here are just some of the immediate, practical benefits of supply chain visibility:

1. Faster responses to problems

Supply chain visibility benefits your company by letting you see problems as soon as they arise, easily track them to their source, and promptly respond and resolve them.

How is this possible? Professional quality control and compliance platforms enable real-time collection of supply chain data and real-time communication. This means that your quality team can monitor factory inspections and audits as they are happening, and respond to non-conformance alerts as they are detected, while having up-to-date data to inform their decision. When time is of the essence, real-time collaboration between your front-line inspectors or auditors and your quality team allows you to address issues proactively, and avoid disruption to your sourcing operations.

2. Big-picture view of product quality and supplier performance

Integrated quality and compliance software consolidates and analyzes huge amounts of supply chain data. The resulting insights can often revealing trends in product quality and supplier performance that may not be apparent from individual and disjointed inspection or audit reports.

Additionally, being able to see each factory and supplier’s performance at a glance, including the history of corrective actions, can help you decide whether each individual supplier is making sufficient progress. Based on such information, you can make informed decisions to prioritize your high-performing suppliers or drop ones that are consistently failing to improve.

3. Consistent standards and continuous improvement

A shared platform with customizable workflows and task-specific quality control checklists ensures that all teams in your supply chain operate within the same framework and follow your standards.

Plus, it is worth remembering that even if your suppliers are willing to follow your exact specifications and meet your market’s requirements, their efforts may fall flat if they don’t have the experience with your particular market or product. With custom-made checklists and readily available training materials, you can directly help your suppliers deliver better results and perform to your and your market’s standards with greater confidence.

4. Streamline QC Assignments and  

Supply chain visibility is also of major benefit for business coordinators during task assignment and TIC service scheduling, as it allows to streamline many routine tasks, for example:

  • automatically assign front-line resources to specific inspections based on inspector availability and their expertise with the given product type;
  • add additional instructions for inspectors, such as to collect samples or dispatch a delivery to a testing lab;
  • schedule routine third-party tasks, such as a certification renewal required every two years.

Furthermore, with the help of supplier mapping and scoring, businesses can accurately identify the best and worst performers in their supply chain. They can then use this data to determine how to best approach quality control for each individual supplier. For example, the best performing suppliers may be permitted to self-inspect a certain percentage of the order, whilst lower performers may require additional attention from your in-house team or a third-party TIC inspector.

5. Supplier autonomy

As supply chain visibility increases, so does the trust between suppliers and brands. This opens up the option of empowering suppliers with autonomy to complete self-inspections: on certain percentage of the order, for simpler and routine QC cases, and when a supplier has demonstrated consistently high quality performance.

Empowering your suppliers to self-inspect can be a valuable strategy for nurturing your sourcing partnerships and optimizing your QC budget. But it is also a sizable responsibility, as it can increase the risk of non-compliance with standards. This is why the best approach is “trust, but verify”, which is something that can be achieved through the use of an integrated, collaborative quality management platform.

6. Lower costs

Supply chain visibility allows you to make informed decisions at every step of your supply chain, and contributes to the bottom line of your business in a variety of ways, including, but not limited to:

  • Minimize the cost of reworks and returns by preventing defective products from shipping;
  • Prevent recalls by ensuring all your manufacturing, QC and testing operations work to your and your market’s specifications;
  • Cut down on the costs of rush shipping by increasing the percentage of products done Right-First-Time;
  • Optimize the use of your QC budget by striking the right balance of self-inspection, in-house QC and third-party inspections based on supplier performance data;
  • Avoid lost business due to bad reviews and reputational damage by ensuring product quality and ethical sourcing.

How Can You Achieve Better Supply Chain Visibility?

When it comes to supply chain visibility, there is always room to improve: whether your business still relies on emails and spreadsheets or already has some form of integrated data and communication platform in place.

In today’s sprawling supply chains, true visibility can only be achieved with advanced software that collects real-time data at every step of the sourcing process. Professional quality and compliance software turns scattered QC reports and siloed management systems into consolidated data and real-time communication, allowing companies to receive crucial information about their supply chains on a moment-to-moment basis.

On average, only 6% of businesses can say they have full visibility into their supply chain. If you want your company to benefit from the many advantages offered by supply chain visibility, it is time to take concrete steps towards making your business a member of that select circle.

How Can QIMAone Help?

QIMAone is an online platform that organizes all of your quality and compliance processes into one intuitive, cloud-based interface.

It centralizes, consolidates and analyzes all of the key data from your supply chain, allowing you to see the larger picture of your supply chain performance, and gain visibility on the level of every sourcing country, supplier and factory.

Additionally, with access to QIMAone tools, such as our library of product-specific inspection templates and best practice training materials, you can ensure that your supply chain meets all industry standards, as well as your expectations. Finally, with QIMAone, you can manage your inspection, and audit assignments and schedules quickly and easily, ensuring that no QC or compliance requirement is missed.

QIMAone gives supply chain managers, quality control officers, compliance officers, and other professionals a complete picture of sourcing performance that they can act upon to drive improvement.

Want to see QIMAone in action? Learn more by scheduling a demo today.

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