Supply Chain Visibility Issues in the Modern World

The Importance of Supply Chain Visibility

In the modern world, supply chain visibility guides businesses through the twists and turns of procurement, manufacturing, and distribution. A lack of supply chain visibility can be detrimental, cause unforeseen disruptions and delays, and result in an overall lack of control. Modern businesses strive to meet customer demands promptly but often remain unaware of the massive roadblocks hidden within their supply chains. Unfortunately, this lack of transparency is not rare; it is, in fact, a widespread challenge many companies face today.

This article delves into the causes of supply chain visibility issues and identifies critical areas where companies often stumble. From the reluctance of suppliers to collaborate to outdated communication techniques, we will navigate through the problems that hinder seamless supply chain visibility.

Lack of Collaboration from Suppliers

Supply chain visibility is a collaborative effort, but not all participants are willing to embrace the concept. One of the major stumbling blocks is the reluctance of suppliers to provide transparency into their operations. In an era where data is often considered a valuable asset, suppliers may be wary of sharing too much information, fearing it could be used against them or compromise their competitive edge. Sometimes, suppliers simply don’t want you to know about their production capacity because they think it's none of your business.

This hesitancy to collaborate hampers the smooth flow of information, leaving businesses in the dark about the status of their supplies. A lack of trust and cooperation can result in delayed responses to issues, leading to disruptions that could have been mitigated with timely insights. There is no substitute for fostering a collaborative relationship with your suppliers. Your business can have all the technology in the world, but if your suppliers are unwilling to collaborate, there is only so much improvement in supply chain visibility your business can achieve.  To read more about the importance of Collaboration, feel free to check out our blog, Supply Chain Management and B2B Collaboration.

Bad Communication Techniques

In the digital age, where advanced technologies facilitate integrated and process-driven communication, reliance on outdated methods can prove detrimental. Many businesses still rely on traditional communication channels like phone calls and emails for crucial B2B discussions related to transactions and supplier quality. While these methods may suffice for routine conversations, they fall short regarding supply chain visibility because they are not trackable modes of communication and aren’t binding.

Phone calls and emails lack the traceability and documentation necessary for effective supply chain management. Vital information exchanged through these channels can be lost easily, and requests for information can be ignored, making it challenging to track and analyze the intricacies of the supply chain. This lack of visibility into communication hinders the ability to respond swiftly to changing circumstances and supplier capacity limitations, ultimately affecting your company’s production deadlines.

Lack of Standardized and Integrated Processes

Standardized and integrated processes form the backbone of supply chain visibility. Without well-defined procedures, businesses struggle to enforce critical requirements such as Purchase Order Acknowledgments (POAs), Advanced Shipping Notices (ASNs), and real-time order status updates.

A fragmented approach to processes leads to inconsistencies and delays. Companies grapple with a lack of uniformity, making integrating data seamlessly across the supply chain challenging because inconsistent data cannot be processed reliably using automation. This affects supply chain visibility and the lack of defined and enforced collaborative business processes, which will also impact your ability to collect supplier performance metrics and make strategic business decisions. The absence of standardized processes leaves businesses vulnerable to errors, miscommunication, and a general lack of control over the entire supply chain lifecycle. It drives companies to fall back on using emails and phone calls for supplier B2B communication.

Lack of Enterprise Tooling

Technology is a powerful ally in the quest for supply chain visibility, but not all enterprises have the right tools. B2B structured data formats like (EDI) or JSON play a massive role in transmitting B2B collaboration data by integrating ERP systems.

However, this kind of integration is not usually feasible for many of your suppliers, and the lack of integration can create a significant blind spot for your company. Businesses relying on manual data entry or outdated systems struggle to keep up with the dynamic demands of the modern supply chain. The lack of automation hampers efficiency and leaves companies grappling with the consequences of insufficient data management. These are significant contributors to poor supply chain visibility. To learn more about what these consequences look like, please read our article, Lost B2B Information.

Lack of Multi-Tiered Supply Chain Visibility

Supply chains are intricate webs of interconnected entities extending far beyond the immediate suppliers. The lack of visibility into second, third, and fourth-tier suppliers is a prevalent issue that can have cascading effects. While a business may have clear visibility into its immediate suppliers, disruptions in the suppliers of your suppliers can still send shockwaves through the entire supply chain and directly impact your production capacity.

Having visibility into the complete hierarchy of suppliers is crucial for risk mitigation and proactive decision-making, yet many businesses struggle to extend their visibility beyond the immediate tier. This can make them susceptible to hidden disruptions further down the chain.


As we navigate the causes of supply chain visibility challenges, it becomes evident that resolving these issues is imperative for businesses aiming to thrive in the dynamic landscape of global commerce.  Each step is crucial for achieving comprehensive supply chain visibility, from fostering collaboration with suppliers to adopting modern B2B communication technology, standardizing processes, integrating your back-office systems, and extending visibility to multi-tiered supply chains.

In conclusion, businesses must recognize the urgency of addressing these challenges head-on. The consequences of poor supply chain visibility are far-reaching, impacting efficiency, customer satisfaction, and the bottom line. To overcome these challenges, modern companies must embrace solutions that offer a holistic approach to supply chain management.

If you find yourself nodding in agreement with the challenges outlined in this article, check out Part Two in this series, where we explore how ChainLink SRM addresses these challenges and provides a comprehensive solution for seamless supply chain visibility. Don't miss out on the opportunity to transform your supply chain into a well-oiled, transparent machine – your key to conquering the complexities of modern commerce.

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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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