Insights / Supply Chain / Article

Debunk Supply Chain Myths to Optimize Visibility

May 08, 2017

Contributor: Christy Pettey

Visibility is susceptible to the perils of myths due to the nature, complexity, confusion and hype surrounding it.

Despite the clarity it seeks to provide to organizations, supply chain visibility is shrouded in myths arising from a combination of vendor hype and anecdotal evidence.

“These myths distract us from the real issues and solutions surrounding supply chain visibility, causing us to make decisions based on assumptions that are wrong, expensive or even dangerous,” said Christian Titze, research director at Gartner. “In doing so they stifle innovation and slow progress toward real goals, accomplishments and outcomes. By separating the truth from fiction, supply chain leaders can make more informed decisions about their visibility and multienterprise initiatives and investments.”

Mr. Titze debunks the top 10 myths of supply chain visibility:

  1. We Can Live Without Supply Chain Visibility
    No, you can’t. It should be every organization’s goal to achieve supply chain visibility for multiple supply chain functions across the organization, including your partner networks. Supply chain visibility capabilities lay the foundation — the capturing of plans, events and relevant supply chain data — to generate value and mitigate risk for an organization.
  2.  Visibility Can Be Achieved by Our ERP
    Companies sometimes still utilize enterprise resource planning(ERP) solutions to address supply chain visibility; however, such applications give only enterprise-level visibility at best and not the anticipated outside-in, network-centric view. Consider ERP as one part of an overall visibility approach.  
  3. Visibility Is Equal to Collaboration
    Supply chain provides the architectural setup, connecting the company with its many business partners and systems in their networks. However, many companies have confused the concepts of collaboration and visibility, which creates misconceptions and puts obstacles in the path to a more effective supply chain.
  4.  We Need Just One Visibility Platform or Vendor
    Currently, no single vendor offers software with end-to-end supply chain visibility capabilities that address multiple supply chain management processes along a comprehensive set of use cases. Companies will likely purchase or use multiple supply chain visibility software packages to support their multiple use cases and achieve end-to-end supply chain visibility.
  5. Vendor Offerings Can Be Easily Evaluated and Compared
    Supply chain organizations and their partners may approach visibility initiatives with different use cases, legacy technologies and readiness levels. The capabilities and attributes of supply chain visibility software differ from typical business process software, so a new set of selection criteria is required during the review process.
  6. All Visibility Platforms Are Going Multitenant Cloud
    Cloud adoption for supply chain visibility solutions heavily depend on the use case. Cross-domain use cases, like risk, are only utilizing a multitenancy model. However, planning use cases show a preference for a dedicated single tenancy environment. Enterprises should not expect all supply chain visibility platforms to go to multitenant cloud in the near future.
  7. Cloud Is Less Secure Than On-Premises Capabilities
    It’s important to remember that security is not one monolithic entity and to identify where security responsibility lies. The majority of cloud providers invest significantly in security technology and personnel, and realize that their business would be at risk without doing so.
  8. Visibility Deployments Are Simple
    Deploying supply chain visibility capabilities should be faster and easier than deploying core business applications, such as ERP or customer relationship management (CRM). However, Gartner research shows that the average implementation time frame for supply chain executional use cases is about 5.1 months and 2.3 months for risk use cases. Implementation requires several months — not weeks, as some expect.
  9. The Network Aspect Is a Secondary Criterion
    Choosing which network to join is critical. Organizations are often surprised to find that their business partners are not on the desired visibility software platform, requiring additional work for onboarding and integration.
  10. Visibility Automatically Delivers Business Benefits
    Business benefits do not come automatically, but are built on improved access to data, insights and agility. Supply chain visibility helps organizations to realize benefits that can be measured directly, such as inventory optimization, and also indirectly, leveraging that insight for faster and more accurate business decisions.

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