Stop Driving Blind: Why Supply Chain Visibility is so Critical for Growth


Have you ever driven your car with your eyes closed—for just a second?  Pretty scary, right? The same goes for driving your business.

Driving and Supply Chain VisibilityVisibility is a very big concern for companies right now.  There is a lot of data moving through the corporate systems today, and not everyone is taking advantage of the tools that provide visibility into that data.

Companies need real-time information and insights to ensure their place as a market leader.  This is especially true for business-to-business (B2B) and supply chain data and transactions. If you cannot address critical questions like:

  • “Did you get my order?”
  • “Where is the Purchase Order?”
  • “What is the status of your Invoice?”

…then you might as well be driving blind. Without visibility into this the status of critical business transactions, your business could slow to a screeching halt.  

Frankly, some companies don’t mind if you’re driving blind. It allows them to create a longer cycle before paying you.  You know the drill, “We did not get the invoice, will you resend it?”  And the clock for paying on time is reset to ZERO—yet you are already 30 days into the expected pay cycle and no way to stop the bleeding. 

What if you had instant visibility into when the invoice was received and acknowledged by your partner—especially the one who is claiming they did not get the invoice?

Companies are realizing they need to gain control, and stop these bad practices. Visibility is one of the best ways to combat the problem.

Why supply chain visibility is so critical for driving—and accelerating—business growth

Data is a critical part of your supply chain and supply chain visibility is more important than ever. Without visibility, it’s nearly impossible to identify and mitigate disruptions before they happen—disruptions that could cost millions due to lost production time, missed deadlines, and unhappy customers.  In addition, visibility helps to make informed business decisions, such as avoiding risks and taking advantage of business opportunities.

Visibility can help in other ways too.  I was working with one customer who had a planned outage for maintenance and never knew their system did not come back up as scheduled.  They missed several opportunities for obtaining new business because they did not respond to bid requests in time.

Furthermore, you may have heard the story about the auto supplier who received the same order multiple times, putting into production a large number of products to be built that were not really needed.  What a costly mistake—and one that visibility could have helped to avoid.

In addition, with visibility into data, coupled with reporting capabilities, companies can analyze and report which of their business partners are performing well and providing the best value—and which ones are draining resources. 

Some of our customers using our B2B Framework have shared with me that they have answered questions like:

  • Which partners have the most errors?
  • Are a partner’s shipments usually on-time or late?
  • Does a partner pay their invoices on-time or are they late on a regular basis?
  • Is a partner meeting their SLAs?
  • Is a partner compliant with regulations?

Lightwell B2B Framework dashboardsThis helps companies determine if a partner is helping or hurting them, how profitable (or unprofitable) the partnership is, helps to mitigate risk, and identify steps to remediate problem areas. 

Beyond gaining a better understanding of business partner relationships and profitability, companies have gained a number of additional insights to help their business in multiple ways. For example:

  • Business executives can view and drill down into reports that help them identify who their top customers are, how much they’re ordering, and the dollar value of those orders over a period of time. This helps them make more informed decisions and fine-tune their strategies.
  • Technical managers can view transaction volume reports to identify unusual surges or gaps, helping them identify and remediate errors that could cost the business dearly.
  • Marketing managers can view transaction volume and dollar value over a period of time to assess the impact of their marketing campaigns, adjust their approach, or identify the right time to launch a new product or offering.
  • Supply chain managers can better forecast and respond to demand by understanding trends in volume of orders for a specific product. This will help to ensure the right level of inventory and avoid stock-outs.
  • Customer service managers can identify and address potential customer satisfaction issues by spotting an unexpected decline in a customer’s order volume. They can take action to avoid losing the customer and ensure that they’re happy.

With the right tools, visibility can be at your fingertips. Taking advantage of it can help to improve customer service and the customer experience, reduce delays and costs, and help you gain insights that drive competitive advantages. If you don’t have visibility, you could very well be left behind.


About the Author

Mike Warvel Mike Warvel has a great passion for data and cars, so naturally he relates the two. He was born in Indianapolis, home of the Greatest Spectacle in Racing. For the last 18 years, he has been helping some of the largest companies (and smaller ones too) overcome their business challenges and improve data access and insights. Mike is not shy about it, as he will tell you that "data moves the world!
Connect with Mike Warvel on LinkedIn 


Learn how companies are gaining visibility and insights through the Lightwell B2B Framework in this brief, on-demand webcast. 

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