Supply Chain Visibility - From Blurred Vision to Sharp Focus

Lack of Supply Chain Visibility

The global supply chain is facing a significant challenge: a lack of visibility. Across industries, businesses grapple with disruptions, delays, and lost inventory, which jeopardize production schedules and customer satisfaction. It does not matter where a company is located or how much supplier redundancy is built into the supply chain. Everyone is asking the same question. Will critical materials arrive on time to keep production lines operating?

The culprit behind this invisibility isn't a singular factor, but rather a combination of outdated practices. Inconsistent data formats and reliance on non-automated communication methods, such as emails and phone calls for order fulfillment updates, are causing a massive problem in supply chain visibility. This lack of standardization leads to errors and delays, ultimately leaving the entire Procure-To-Pay (P2P) process in the dark.

Fortunately, a powerful solution exists: ChainLink SRM. ChainLink SRM streamlines communication and ensures data quality throughout the Procure-To-Pay process by leveraging automation and standardization. Imagine a world where all participants foster a collaborative environment built on transparency, and your core P2P process can be enhanced to support multiple touchpoints of collaborative visibility. ChainLink SRM does this in a way that gives you real-time insights, proactively addresses disruptions, and ultimately ensures a smooth flow of materials that keeps production running at peak efficiency.

The Root of Your Supply Chain Visibility Problems

The adage "Garbage in, garbage out" rings especially true in supply chain management. Inconsistent data formats from various suppliers are the initial source of this "garbage." When invoices, purchase orders, and shipment details arrive in myriad formats, integrating this data into a cohesive picture becomes a monstrous task that usually involves manual data entry. Errors creep in, and the data becomes unreliable and breaks your automation. This "garbage data" then plagues downstream processes, leading to inaccurate inventory forecasts, missed deadlines, and, ultimately, a supply chain shrouded in confusion.

Beyond the data, untraceable communication channels with suppliers further muddy supply chain visibility. Emails and phone calls are not auditable forms of supplier communication. If they’re unsuitable for sending purchase orders, these documents are unsuitable for requesting updates or resolving issues. That’s because it is too easy for your uncollaborative supplier, who does not want to explain that fulfillment is running late, to ignore your requests for information. This lack of collaboration hinders proactive problem-solving and prevents timely adjustments to production schedules or resource allocation. Untraceable communication is a blind spot within the supply chain, leaving businesses vulnerable to disruptions and delays.

You Can’t Fix your Supply Chain Visibility Without Collaborative Business Process

Contrast this error-prone, manual data entry with an integrated and collaborative business process. Process means structure and repetition that transforms this error-ridden exercise into a symphony of seamless data exchange. Imagine a world where data flows effortlessly between all participants, each document adhering to a pre-defined format that eliminates the need for repetitive and error-prone manual data entry. Standardized formats ensure everyone speaks the same language, fostering clear communication across the entire supply chain ecosystem. Automated Procure-To-Pay workflows ensure collaboration because the process does not move forward until your supplier performs their action within a fully auditable workflow. This collaborative and transparent approach, fueled by automation and data standardization, minimizes data errors, streamlines communication, increases collaboration, and ushers in a new era of supply chain visibility, where supply chain disruptions are proactively addressed and mitigated before they can negatively impact your business’s bottom line and reputation. Implementing this collaborative business process can revolutionize your supply chain management, making it more efficient, reliable, and resilient.

Additionally, standardizing your P2P process instantly allows you to enforce the utilization of an ASN across your entire supply chain. This is a substantial first step towards achieving true supply chain transparency, which empowers you to identify potential delays and make informed adjustments to production schedules. However, the ASN is not the only step you can take to enhance your supply chain visibility.

Improve Your Business Process for Greater Supply Chain Visibility

By simply defining and enforcing a collaborative business process, you have increased supply chain visibility. However, if you improve that process, your supply chain visibility increases astronomically and in a way that is more palatable to your suppliers. What am I talking about? I’m talking about enforcing a purchase order acknowledgment and order status updates as part of your standard Procure-To-Pay process. By implementing a required purchase order acknowledgment in which your supplier has to respond within the agreed-upon time window, you gain an additional layer of visibility through collaboration. If that isn’t enough, add an order status update request to the equation. Because all of these documents take place in a collaborative, electronic business process, you can know that when you request mission-critical information from your supplier, you will get a response with actionable information that you can use to proactively mitigate supply chain bottlenecks and vulnerabilities that ultimately affect your ability to fulfill an order on time for your customers.


The intricate dance of the global supply chain demands a clear view of the stage. Because of a lack of supply chain visibility, businesses have struggled with disruptions, delays, and lost inventory, jeopardizing production and customer satisfaction. This article has shed light on the root causes – inconsistent data formats and non-automated communication – and how they contribute to the lack of transparency.

However, the future is not covered in darkness. ChainLink SRM offers a powerful path towards supply chain transparency. By leveraging automation and standardization, ChainLink SRM streamlines communication and ensures data quality throughout the Procure-To-Pay (P2P) process. The time for guesswork is over. By embracing ChainLink SRM and collaborative business processes, businesses can finally usher in a new era of supply chain success. This transformative technology empowers them to gain real-time insights, proactively address disruptions, and ultimately ensure a smooth flow of materials that keeps production running at peak efficiency. In a world where visibility is king, ChainLink SRM equips businesses to not only survive, but thrive in the ever-evolving global marketplace.

Want to talk about your specific supply chain visibility issues? Please click here to talk with one of our supply chain experts about how ChainLink SRM can fix your Supply Chain Visibility issues.

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David Erwin

David is the Chief Operations Officer and Director of Business Development at TTP Solutions LLC. Since 2019, David has been the driving force behind sales, marketing, and organizational development. David holds a B.B.A. in Entrepreneurship and a B.A. in Spanish from Middle Tennessee State University. He has a passion for helping others to solve problems creatively. Husband to KerrieAnn, David loves photography, hiking, traveling, and reading.

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