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How to Achieve Visibility in Globally Networked Supply Chains

By May 20, 2021August 27th, 2021Blog

Global supply chains have become increasingly complex.

Supply nodes are globally dispersed, spanning geographies, time zones, legal structures and business environments. High-value business functions are often outsourced to optimize costs and benefit from niche expertise. It is this networked global architecture of the modern supply chain that increases risks and makes controlling its different parts cumbersome.

In order to reduce supply chain risk, it is essential to know what is happening in other nodes of the supply chain in real time. This is where the need for supply chain visibility becomes indisputable. Supply chain visibility, in turn, is dependent on the seamless collaboration between all systems and stakeholders involved in the supply chain network.

In a networked supply chain, every business is dependent on multiple partners. For instance, for a typical business, manufacturing partners, direct and indirect materials suppliers, financial institutions, services and contingent workforce providers, distributors, and logistics service providers form the tier one partners. These partners, in turn, have tier two partners and commercial dependencies.

Additionally, an organization is comprised of several departments that interact with the partner network and internally among themselves.

Organizations have to collaborate extensively both internally and externally to fulfill business demands. This web of partners and the various functions inside an organization must work together seamlessly. All the relevant information should be exchanged across the network in real time, without any confusion or duplication. Collaboration is a critical ask. However, this requires cross-functional enablement as well. We need to ensure that systems and processes that enable efficient supply chain visibility and collaboration are in place.

Yet, even in organizations where these systems and processes are in place when we look at end-to-end cross-functional collaboration, there is often much left to be desired. ERP systems have promised to facilitate collaboration and improve supply chain visibility for a long time. Still, due to challenges like system shortcomings and lack of experience, collaboration and visibility aren’t always achieved at the speed and level at which businesses require.

Technology can help bridge the gap between lack of supply chain visibility and collaboration that plagues organizations. The suite of products from SAP – including SAP IBP, SAP Ariba and SAP S/4HANA – allows organizations to seamlessly communicate across the networked supply chain and improve visibility and collaboration across functions.

In a recent webinar, SAP and Bristlecone experts spoke about real-world business cases, as mentioned below, and highlighted how they can be achieved.

  1. Planning, Procurement and Execution Collaboration
  2. Inventory Management / Inventory Cost Reduction

We demonstrated how effective collaboration can be handled across several different SAP systems and showcased how short to mid-term and long-term planning information can be shared with suppliers and how higher service levels can be achieved. Common questions like deviations in purchase orders and supplier-managed inventory were also discussed.

This webinar is now available on-demand. You can watch it here.

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