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The Visible Supply Chain: Ensuring end-to-end optimization

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Business performance management relies on data that is readily accessible to managers, but data accessibility alone is not sufficient to make the supply chain visible. It is truly visible only if the data is accessible within a context that gives it meaning and can make it useful as part of a decision-making process.

Context is especially important in today's information-rich enterprise environments because it is easy to overload users with too much data, from too many sources, presented to them with too little context of how it relates to other data and business processes and activities.

Other pressures to control supply chain processes come from both external and internal sources. Externally, one source of that pressure is customer demand, particularly for products sold worldwide in markets that are very competitive.

When operating at that scope and in such markets, visibility is essential, but gathering and managing the information that enables demand to drive the manufacturing and distribution processes is a complex job because it likewise is dispersed widely.

Updated data from intra-enterprise ERP and supply chain systems often is available in real time or within one day. Recent research from Ventana Research has shown, however, that even where a local ERP system is in place, data often is not available to managers that quickly.

Creating a visible supply chain is an undertaking not to be taken lightly. This project has IT elements, but essentially it is about business performance. Many of the building blocks for a visible supply chain are already in place but you must create visibility deliberately and thoughtfully if it is to serve as a competitive differentiator and a facilitator of improved profitability.