"On almost every survey of supply chain managers, you will see visibility listed as a top problem," says Montgomery, who is Kenco's vice president of information technology. "All companies are struggling with this issue and they are looking to providers and outsourcers to offer solutions that go beyond mere reporting tools," she says. "The key is being able to make the data dynamic, so that users can look at it and make decisions based on it."
Accomplishing this goal comes down to integration of the multiple companies and multiple systems involved in a supply chain. "Most organizations have multiple systems running different functions," Montgomery says. "These may vary from off-the-shelf financial packages to warehouse management legacy systems that were developed in house. The data behind these different systems is in very different formats and may even use different item or product numbers." All that data has to be normalized and standardized across systems before it to be made available to support real-time decision making, she says.
Standardizing data is a huge step, but it must be followed by making the data available across the organization and to external partners, says Montgomery. "Companies need a single platform where data is available for everyone to see," she says. This platform can be web-based or a company-created portal, but "it has to be immediate, dynamic and universally available," she says.
For a company able to achieve this level of visibility, the results "would be phenomenal," Montgomery says. "You would see supply chains that are truly optimized from farm to fork, with lean processes and agile organizations that are able to collaborate internally and with partners on a single goal."
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Keywords: Aberdeen Group, Supply Chain Visibility, SC Planning & Optimization, Collaboration & Integration, Business Process Management, Business Intelligence & Analytics, Technology, Business Strategy Alignment, Supply Chain Analysis & Consulting, Global Supply Chain Management, supply chain optimization, supply chain managers' concerns
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