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How Do You Define Visibility in the Supply Chain?

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Define Visibility

Visibility is like the glue that keeps supply chain processes together. If visibility is enabled, then supply chains run a lot more smoothly with little to no setbacks. If there is no sign of visibility within a supply chain, the process is surely expected to fall apart quickly. Why is the ability of any member of the supply chain to clearly see every supply chain process so important? Visibility enables transparency and better end-to-end communication for better collaboration.

So which processes are we talking about when we say that more visibility is needed? The following are some of the top processes that can be improved:

  • Inventory management
  • Order tracking
  • Shipment tracking
  • Accounting

Before we get into the specifics of each process, let’s better understand the role of technology in supply chain management.

Supply Chain Technology: Profit Maker or Breaker?

The solution to the lack of visibility within supply chains is technology. However, when supply chain and logistics companies look to technology as a solution, they should be careful not to overdo it. The use of various siloed tech does nothing to speed up operations and keep everyone connected. For example, your warehouse management system (WMS) should be able to share data with your transportation management system (TMS) and your accounting software (if you use third-party accounting software such as QuickBooks). If there are no options to connect your systems, you may be heading in a backward direction with your organization.

That said, here are some ways you can ensure visibility in some of your key processes for supply chain management.

Inventory Management

Visibility within inventory management is crucial for meeting customer demands. Having a closer insight into just how much inventory you have can help tackle oversupply and undersupply especially during peak season. When finding a good inventory management system, be sure that the process for updating inventory is automated as much as possible. For example, warehouse employees can use mobile scanners that update the status of inventory in real-time so that inventory numbers are as updated as soon as possible with little manual intervention. You can also look into a transportation management system that has an integrated inventory management feature.

Order and Shipment Tracking

Having visibility into inventory is crucial for proper order and shipment tracking as well. These processes are closely connected. Order visibility can allow employees to see where items are in the order tracking process, what their inventory looks like so they can quickly decide if they are able to fulfill orders, better predict ETAs based on where the item is at a particular time in the process, and more. The ability to clearly track all orders is crucial to business growth, otherwise, issues in the process can result in major profit cuts and poor reputation. Being able to fulfill customer requests should be of utmost importance for all companies.


This one is a no-brainer. Companies act on numbers, and there is no way to know if there are actions needed to be taken to reduce costs, change modes of transportation, replace certain machinery, etc. if there is no visibility within accounting processes. Therefore, your supply chain management system should offer a feature to streamline your accounting so that it is accessible by the appropriate team(s). Many systems come with user role management so that you can give certain members permission to only view documents and not edit them.

These are just some ways that you can enable better visibility and collaboration within your supply chain. The most important point to note is that technology is the backbone of supply chain visibility if the right technology is enabled.

Zara Raza is a Digital Marketing Specialist at Turvo Inc., the world’s #1 collaborative transportation management system. She graduated from the University of California – Irvine in 2019 and has written several blogs on topics such as technology and supply chain management.

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