Supply chain partners thrive on visibility

Risk can erupt at any level of the supply chain, from the largest global distributor to the smallest supply specialist. A recent Industry Week report on the dangers of supply chain management  sought to help companies recognize risks before they become pressing and lead to lost revenue. The key, according to the source, is being aware of the daily operations at all levels of the chain.

Transparency improves outcomes

Industry Week stated that companies need to remain aware of the day-to-day goings on at their partners. This extends beyond large or top-level suppliers to the small companies providing specialized materials. Stress on suppliers can come from odd sources, including an increase in order volume, and companies need to know when issues arise.

The news source reported that a rapid increase in prosperity can have unfortunate ripples up and down the supply chain if small partners are not prepared. Due to a lack of staffing or capital, small companies can fall short of order volumes. If there is no warning, these small firms may bring the entire production process to a halt, turning any financial windfalls into losses. The source cited one airplane hardware manufacturer which lost production from a small partner and suffered $4.5 million in lost revenue.

Citing Gartner research, Industry Week stated that companies aware of their supplier's current statuses are better prepared to deal with disruption. Transparency and visibility are the key factors in these B2B integration scenarios.

The source suggested that companies inspect several facets of their partners' operations, including but not limited to cash flow efficiency and debt management efficiency. Automated B2B integration financial processes can make sure that information is always available. Choosing a secure solution means that figures will never be intentionally obscured and are protected from attack by malicious outsiders.

Software options

The latest supply chain management offerings from IBM's Smarter Commerce line address the issue of visibility. At a recent sponsored summit, IBM announced additions to its lineup of cloud-based tools. In addition to systems based on B2C e-commerce transactions, the company also unveiled enhancements for its cloud-based collaboration tools. Hosted technology, with its ability to transmit data worldwide immediately, is an important tool for managers looking for more visibility.

The cloud operates on a model that hosts one set of figures, shared among partners. By its very nature, the cloud encourages visibility, as the process of giving reports and sending quarterly or monthly data has been replaced by real-time data availability.