Great Performance

As supply chains evolve and adapt to meet increasing customer demands in a more dispersed and volatile business environment, the notion of supply chain visibility is emerging rapidly as a hygiene need.

Today, analysis of common supply chain challenges in the global distributed supply chain paradigm clearly brings out the need of three critical interventions across all supply chain processes – design, source, make, deliver and service, namely:

  1. Interventions to address inefficient supply chain planning (characterized by weaknesses such as low degree of process adherence and low process maturity);
  2. Interventions to address ineffective supply chain planning (characterized by weaknesses across supply chain partners in planning and collaboration); and
  3. Interventions that help improve supply chain execution (characterized by features such as low data and process integrity, and non standard process definitions).
Eliminating Visibility Issues

It is important to construct an approach that helps alleviate such issues and weaknesses in a structured and systemic fashion, and fosters better supply chain performance.

We believe that supply chain intensive organizations today are looking to bring in a holistic perspective on supply chain visibility that straddles three unique dimensions:

  1. Supply chain process visibility and transparency for inter and intra enterprise process integration and collaboration;
  2. Supply chain performance visibility that helps create a layer of visibility and actionable insights; and
  3. Smart instrumentation in supply chain processes that help deliver more closed loop feedback processes both in supply chain planning and execution.

The ITC Infotech 3V Supply Chain Visibility framework combines these three perspectives into a holistic framework of analysis. It is the key to deliver supply chain excellence and superior supply chain performance.

Visibility into Performance

Visibility into supply chain performance is pivotal to help monitor and manage the supply chain. It is important to develop a mix of capabilities spanning a potent supply chain KPI model with robust aggregation and disaggregation models that have the ability to run analysis trails for root cause analysis; run workbench models that allow role based dashboards coupled with strong business process management features; and run functional (e.g. procurement and spend management) as well as cross functional (e.g. supply chain management costs, order fill rates) and performance models.

ITC Infotech has developed a supply chain performance management module in collaboration with SAP. It provides one such capability that has been successfully adopted by leading CPG companies to gain visibility on key KPIs, and bring strong measurement, monitoring and management capabilities. An iconic beverage company has adopted the same to drive faster response to changing business needs through end-to-end visibility into supply chain operations to bring control over key cross functional metrics such as supply chain management costs and order fill rates.

Visibility Across Partners

Visibility across supply chain partners is essential to help run the value chain process integration and collaboration, thereby addressing known issues like the classical bullwhip effect. A mix of capabilities spanning value chain integration such as supplier integration portals, planning collaboration through integrated supply chain planning or sales and operations planning, supply chain process integration through robust inter and intra enterprise business process management are fundamental to drive process and information visibility and transparency across the supply chain.

For example, a CPG company operating in a contract manufacturing model with multiple small scale contract manufacturers units (CMU) gains visibility into the manufacturing operations of the CMUs to make the right order promise to dealers and distributors. A supplier integration portal ensures that CMUs provide status updates against planned production orders and information on finished goods inventory to enable better order promise and as a result, enhanced performance of customer service levels. This type of portal concept also helps integrate global planning capabilities across the supply network by gathering more real-time supplier capacity and availability inputs, thus making more informed order allocations as well as capacity augmentation or utilization decisions.

Visibility via Instrumentation

Visibility through smart instrumentation in supply chain processes drives more real-time and closed-loop feedback capabilities into supply chain planning and execution processes. Supply chains can gain better in-process visibility and control by driving a higher number of observation towers through setting up automated data capture (ADC) capabilities such as RFID, GPS, GPRS and mobility.

For a client, ITC Infotech has implemented a GPS tracking capability for the distribution fleet through its AutoID practice that provides route level visibility and tracking of the key parameters such as off-route deviations, monitoring of unplanned idling, and monitoring and governance on route performance. Supply chain environments that deal with ambiguity and uncertainty in distribution and supply eliminate inherent process uncertainty to the extent possible through intelligent application of technology capabilities such as ADC.

Future possibilities are immense, and plans are in place to help tie back the information from such capabilities into planning processes that will help drive better backhaul utilization, improve truck scheduling and close integration into yard management systems, and introduce mobile applications for real time order taking, delivery confirmation based on location based identification and product availability through remote ERP connectivity.

A structured approach such as the ITC Infotech 3V Supply Chain Visibility Model is required to systematically usher more advanced supply chain visibility capabilities. These need to address the issues of:

  1. Better control over supply chain performance – Help improve efficiency to let supply chains work through a systematic exposure of supply chain performance hotspots, while acquiring the capability to run corrective and preventative actions.
  2. Better process integration and collaboration – Help bring in better value chain collaboration and integration, and drive  supply chains more effectively.
  3. Better in-process visibility and control – Help companies execute improved supply chain processes through enforcement of better process and data integrity.

L.N. Balaji is the president of ITC Infotech (USA) Inc., and heads the company’s operations in North America.

Sandeep Kumar is the vice president at ITC Infotech and heads the business consulting group. They can be reached at and


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