By Guilherme Cunha, Director of Business Development at maxiaNET
Visibility is a fundamental component of modern supply chain management; beyond providing an overview of the movement of goods, it delivers useful data for business decision-making. And while its greatest virtue is to provide certainty about the exact location and condition of products along the supply chain, only 6% of companies worldwide report having complete visibility into what is happening in their supply chain.[i]
If your company is in the process of hiring a visibility solution service for its supply chain, we suggest to take into account the following considerations to ensure that the contracted solution helps your company reach its visibility goals:
- Understanding the service scope
The service scope should cover at least the stages from product manufacture to arrival at the point of sale. Ideally, however, you should have complete supply chain information, including the activities performed by the suppliers of your product’s raw materials and components. Full supply chain visibility provides useful information to prevent disruptions and gives your company a competitive advantage in the marketplace.
The quality of the data provided is also an imortant feature of the service scope. For example, we know of some brands that currently receive photographs of the shelves of their products. However, images of the product placement on the shelves are of little use if they do not generate data that provides a greater understanding, such as prices, expiration date, and movement of the item, among others.
- Supplier’s reputation
It is crucial to assess the prestige and quality of the service you want to hire. In the market, there are many providers who have technological platforms for data capture but lack personnel in the field (or vice versa), so they cannot provide a complete visibility service. Our recommendation is to find a company that can provide a complete visibility solution.
In addition, knowing the supplier’s reputation will allow you to know if they have the necessary experience and determine their strengths. In this way, you can determine if this supplier will be able to obtain the information that your company needs. For example, in many Latin American countries, only those suppliers that have connections with supermarket chains can do data capture within their facilities, so companies must choose a supplier that has access to the points of sale of their products.
- Capacity and scalability
An outsourced service must have the technical capabilities to ensure visibility throughout the supply chain. It is also important that these capabilities have the breadth to scale the service as the customer grows, whether in products, volume, markets, channels, or distribution points.
- Training offer
Innovations require constant training of the human resources involved in the process. A suitable visibility supplier must support your service, providing your company employees with technical training.
- Clarity about the origin and use of the data
The great potential of a visibility system is to transform the data collected into accurate information that allows decision-making. For this reason, it is essential to know the data source since the credibility of the information relies on verification.
It is also essential that the information collected is used to the maximum. Each piece of data collected should have a final purpose on the decision-making stage to avoid wasting resources.
- Have an SLA that fits the needs of the brand.
When your company contracts a visibility service, both companies should stablish an SLA (Service Level Agreement). By following this SLA, the parties involved will know exactly what to expect from each other and create a trustfull relationship, which is key to a lasting partnership.
- Multiple sources of resources
The service provider needs to have several sources of information: either from its equipment or from allies that can provide data from different sources. Having multiple sources of information is also crucial to guarantee the continuity of the service if any of the sources experience an unforeseen event.
- Ticket System
A system for raising and tracking support tickets is a must. In any visibility solution, achiving the best efficiency in incident resolution is essential. For this, it is necessary that the system allows the monitoring of reports and can raise flags when an incident is found in the operation that requires immediate action from the brand.
- Agility and flexibility
In a supply chain there will always be unforeseen events, from those generated by the economy, political climate, industry, or social factors, to those linked to internal circumstances of the companies involved in the supply chain. Therefore, it is ideal to prioritize the supplier that, due to its technology, experience, and capacity, can provide flexibility and agility to adapt quickly to new circumstances.
- A single control panel
When seeking visibility in the supply chain, it is necessary to facilitate access to the collected information. The best thing to do is to have a digital platform that contains this information and helps visualize it in a way that simplifies decision-making, no matter how complex the original data may be. A simple and accessible dashboard is invaluable in a supply chain, especially when it is compatible with mobile platforms that allow you to have all the information in the palm of your hand.
Ultimately, the most important factors when negotiating a visibility solution are trust and transparency: only trust-based relationships will ensure that the information is clear, reliable, and useful. At maxiaNET, we work hand in hand with our customers to achieve this.
 GEODIS, 2017 Supply Chain Worldwide Survey, consultado en mayo de 2022.