Continuous Improvement

Between rising competition and the tightening of budgets, today’s supply chain and procurement managers face more challenges than ever, especially when it comes to visibility. In fact, a recent Transport Intelligence survey indicated that lack of supply chain visibility was the number one challenge for logistics stakeholders in the past year, with only 16.9 percent of respondents reporting that they have end-to-end visibility into their supply chain, including insight into partners.

One of the top ways logistics leaders can alleviate some of these pain points is to focus on proper execution of supply chain activities – from global trade and the movement of goods to storage – through the use of information and data to provide visibility and collaboration. This process is referred to as supply chain execution convergence (SCEC).

What is SCEC?

SCEC is a growing trend in the logistics world. Bringing together enterprise departments managing end-to-end supply chain systems, SCEC breaks down silos among warehousing, manufacturing, transportation and other logistics elements to ultimately foster meaningful collaboration.

While SCEC adoption has grown, particularly in large enterprises, it has not been implemented and applied throughout the entire business within many of these organizations. This is often because departments only have the resources to hit individual objectives – not the broader enterprise goals. Despite these challenges, the conversation around addressing visibility across silos has been elevated in today’s logistics community thanks to major firms like Gartner raising the need for greater collaboration. Here’s how supply chain leaders can turn the conversation into action and achieve SCEC:

    + Consider deploying cloud technology that helps capture, report and leverage important benchmarking data and provides insight into supply chain performance. These cloud solutions must have analytics platforms that allow users to assess partners, be informed on risk management and analyze the system’s effects on profit margins. As more and more technology moves into the cloud, organizations can reap the benefits of anytime, anyplace, anywhere access to data. An added benefit of cloud technology is that it allows organizations to reduce upfront costs and save on onsite maintenance down the line.
    + Integrate data and supply chain activities across the entire chain to provide visibility into all parts of the system. Businesses must be able to have insight into partner activity to ensure they meet delivery and contractual deadlines. This process begins by taking stock of in-house data flow and capabilities and then determining how much is transmitted electronically. The more organizations can easily share with partners, the more the communication will benefit the performance of the entire supply chain. In turn, businesses should figure out what data those partners house that they may not have access to – supply chain professionals need visibility into external data whenever possible to help monitor the partners’ activities and overall performance.
    + Share data in real-time. Consider portals or cloud-based methods to get those important data points even faster. Are employees creating manual reports, or perhaps systems are delayed in sending alerts to exceptions within the supply chain? Those reports and notifications keep an organization’s supply chain on track and let shippers, LSPs or retailers know when something has gone wrong or needs immediate attention. Fortunately, today’s supply chain execution technology can help automate those processes, avoid human error and reduce delays.

Once an organization takes these actions, driving transportation ownership over the visibility team, suppliers and customers are the next piece of the strategy. Transportation connects each group to reaching SCEC – from the manufacturer’s floor, to packaging, to final end customer delivery. Ultimately, transportation teams are the ones responsible for driving execution convergence and making sure it is embraced throughout the company and beyond.

SCEC is the future of the logistics industry. While gaining visibility and increasing collaboration are two of the key benefits of SCEC, it also gives logistics companies a competitive edge; having a SCEC strategy in place is already becoming a key differentiator. So, get ahead and gain visibility with supply chain execution convergence before the competition.