Inventory Visibility A Supply Chain Connect Whitepaper Introduction Supply chain-centric organizations face unique challenges in today’s rapidly-changing marketplace. A variety of macro-industry factors, combined with the dynamic nature of their business, have made operations increasingly complex. As a result, there is an urgent need for tools that enable complete visibility into and enhanced management of inventory and related events and activities. In fact, in a 2006 report by Aberdeen Research, nearly two-thirds of supply chain professionals surveyed indicated that they are under increased pressure from senior management to dramatically improve the technologies they use to manage inventory. Some of the most common issues include: Globalization Most organizations operate on a worldwide scale, working with vendors, suppliers, and clients in countries across the globe. This approach, while crucial to ensuring profitability and growth, can further complicate inventory and supply chain activities that are already complex and multifaceted. Outsourcing In an effort to decrease administrative burden and focus more energy on core business activities, many companies are relying on third-parties to handle a variety of functions. This trend is evident in the growing popularity of vendor managed inventory (VMI) and other outsourcing strategies. And, while beneficial in many ways, outsourcing can make supply chain operations more difficult to track and manage. Increased Competitive Pressures Competition is fierce in every industry sector, and supply-chain intensive corporations are no exception. Customers demand superior service and rapid order fulfillment, and will quickly spend their money elsewhere if their needs are not satisfied. Aberdeen studies validate this point, showing that 27 percent of companies view effective inventory controls as a way to gain additional market share through maximum product availability. Compressed Product Lifecycles Consumer needs change rapidly, and in an effort to anticipate and respond to those requirements, manufacturers are evolving and/or replacing their products faster than ever before. This trend is rendering existing inventory obsolete and un-sellable at a head-spinning pace, making it harder to maintain optimum stock levels to meet demand. The Need for Complete Inventory Visibility In order to address the challenges above, companies must find new and innovative ways to achieve comprehensive, 360 degree visibility into the inventory-related activities they conduct with their suppliers, logistics partners, and customers. Known as inventory visibility, this technique provides organizations with the insight they need into available stock, inventory in transit, open orders, returns, and other vital information. Armed with this intelligence, they can set more effective inventory strategies, and ensure that the stock they require to satisfy customer demands is readily accessible whenever they need it. Copyright 2007 Supply Chain Connect, LLC. All Rights Reserved. But true, unhindered supply chain visibility is not easy to achieve without the proper tools and technologies in place. It requires: • The ability to consolidate multiple supply chain tracking and control systems, and integrate timely and accurate data from a variety of disparate sources • Dynamic event detection, so problems can be uncovered and prevented before they severely impact operations and customer satisfaction • In-depth impact analysis, to quickly and accurately assess how potential changes in activities will affect order fulfillment, delivery times, and service levels The SCC Solution: Empowering Organizations to Achieve True Inventory Visibility Supply Chain Connect (SCC) has designed and developed a powerful Supply Chain Visibility Module that enables companies to better monitor and control their stock and all related inventory management activities. This robust and feature-rich application is comprised of three core components: User Dashboard Supply chain professionals can easily and conveniently access a single, consolidated view of all needed operational data via an intuitive, fully-customizable Web-based portal. Snapshots of recent events, the status of open activities, the impact of any changes, and other mission-critical information can be instantly retrieved and reviewed when needed. Additionally, users can leverage powerful reporting and analytics to uncover vital patterns in historical inventory data, and identify those trends that positively and negatively impact service levels. Event and Workflow Configuration Effective workflow planning and execution help to ensure smooth inventory and supply chain operations. The SCC solution allows users to quickly and easily define basic business rules, outline crucial event sequences and process flows, assign responsible parties to important tasks and activities, and set guidelines for the handling of exceptions. Integration and Infrastructure Design All relevant data from a company’s entire inventory environment – including vendor, supplier, and logistic partner systems – is aggregated, cleansed, and reconciled to create a single, consolidated view of all inventory-related events. The challenge faced by most enterprises is that supply chain data is captured and stored by a variety of information systems that are not integrated. The SCC Inventory Visibility application is powered by a set of integration modules and mapping tools that allow it to acquire and consolidate data into common formats, enabling effective and ongoing information access and sharing. With the SCC Supply Chain Visibility Module, users are empowered to: • Access complete and accurate supply chain data in near real-time or real-time, including orders, inventory levels, and shipments. • Dynamically monitor activities and exceptions, as they occur. • Proactively manage events across the entire supply chain, to enable detection and prevention of issues before they cause major operational breakdowns. • Measure performance against key indicators and metrics, to assess productivity and service levels, and make corrective adjustments to processes as needed. Copyright 2007 Supply Chain Connect, LLC. All Rights Reserved. • Automatically resolve exceptions based on pre-defined business rules, or provide instant access to the insight needed to enable manual resolution of unique exceptions. Key Benefits Early adopters of SCC’s Supply Chain Visibility Module have realized significant benefits, including improved coordination among internal departments or business units, as well as enhanced collaboration with external business partners. Other, more tangible and quantifiable advantages our clients have achieved include: • Improved demand management through a reduction in channel inventory • Enhanced supplier performance through a decrease in procurement expedites • Minimized procurement costs through the elimination of unneeded or inaccurate ordering, as well as stronger vendor relationships • Increased customer satisfaction through improved stock planning, which offers a greater ability to effectively fulfill orders in a timely fashion One company who relies on the SCC Inventory Visibility module is Chase & Sons, a specialty tape and compound manufacturer for the cable and wire industry. As Steve Navarette, Senior Account Manager explains, "The most important thing is getting real-time information on our customers' inventory. Visibility to the product reduces the number of emergency calls for stock outs and allows us to plan better. Now we see inventory starting to decline and can plan better. We are not blind-sided with surprise orders. The reduction in phone calls and emergency orders was significant." Key Features The SCC Supply Chain Visibility Module offers a highly functional platform that delivers the following key capabilities: • Order lifecycle tracking. Users can monitor both domestic and international orders from end-to-end, from the time they are created, until they are delivered. • Inventory tracing. Inventory can be viewed and managed by orders, transport movements, and other criteria across multiple geographic locations. • Automated process execution. Core procedures such as order creation, changes, and acceptance; order collaboration with suppliers and service providers; access to associated inventory positions; and impact analysis of delayed in-transits on inventory stock outs and promotion dates can be carried out in a fully streamlined and automated fashion. • Proactive activity monitoring. Users can proactively track and manage their most critical supply chain activities by receiving dynamic alerts when exceptions occur, when shipments are delayed, when advance shipping notices are not received, or when shipments arrive in the yard. Additionally, they can configure tolerances around each exception, or create new exceptions and subsequent events as needed. • Role-based views. Users have access to different types of relevant information, based on their role in the supply chain process. So, buyers, suppliers, logistics analysts, and third-party logistics providers don’t have to wade through volumes of irrelevant data they don’t need or aren’t authorized to view, and can immediately retrieve they information they need, whenever they need it. • Comprehensive transaction visibility. The solution provides complete support for and Copyright 2007 Supply Chain Connect, LLC. All Rights Reserved. • visibility into all associated transactions and EDI messages, including purchase orders, ASN, routing requests, in-transit updates, customs clearances, consolidation and deconsolidation center workflows, allocations, receipts, and more. Enhanced supplier management. All data and features are accessible through an intuitive zero-client, Web-based interface. So, the on-boarding process is accelerated, and suppliers and other third-party partners can immediately and conveniently utilize the application via any standard Internet browser. Why Supply Chain Connect? What makes Supply Chain Connect the preferred vendor for inventory and supply chain visibility solutions? Unmatched industry expertise. Founded in 1995, SCC possesses more than a decade of targeted, in-depth experience planning and deploying applications that help companies overcome their greatest inventory management and supply chain challenges. A proven solution. Over 200 leading companies in 14 countries around the world have used our technologies to enhance their supply chain operations. Ease of implementation and use. Our technologies are designed to be installed, configured, and deployed easily and rapidly. The Inventory Visibility solution is on-demand: a set of web-based applications requiring no software to be installed in your business. In fact, most of our implementations are completed within 90 to 120 days (from the time a requirements analysis is conducted until the solution is put into full production). And, our Supply Chain Visibility Module offers an interface that’s intuitive and easy-to-use. So, training time is minimized, allowing your users to get up and running – and your company to begin reaping dramatic benefits – as quickly as possible. Seamless integration. At SCC, we understand that only comprehensive and seamless system integration can enable the kind of fast, open collaboration and information-sharing needed to ensure the smoothest supply chain operations. That’s why we build our technologies to work with all popular supply chain systems, inventory management applications, databases, etc. Copyright 2007 Supply Chain Connect, LLC. All Rights Reserved.
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