Today's supply chain is inside-out. (The automation of a company's process across sell, deliver, make and source within the four walls of the enterprise. Traditionally, the focus was on functional automation to improve efficiency.) While supply chain leaders speak of the need to build value chains, this is incongruous with the traditional focus of organizations on the efficient enterprise processes primarily focused on transactional processes enabled by ERP.
The challenge is that in building outside-in processes, teams will find that most of their current technology is obsolete. The reason? Outside-in signals do not readily fit into the processes and techniques implemented previously when the goal was to create an efficient enterprise.
The COVID-19 economic recovery is dependent on strong supply chain capabilities. In the restart of the supply chain from a deep coma will be anything but ordinary. Companies will quickly find that signals within the four walls of the enterprise are not sufficient to fuel the required capabilities for economic recovery. The reason? Logistics will be more turbulent, and suppliers are ramping-up capacity. There will be many ups and downs. Historically, supply chain leaders worked with government leaders to make border frictionless. In the past decade, we have not operated supply chains with as much border friction and lead time variability.
This week, I completed a quantitative study of fifty-seven companies on logistics visibility. Data collection occurred before the COVID-19 shut down, and the data sample is primarily North American manufacturers. (The word cloud above is from the open-end responses from the study.)
Today 83% of companies are working on visibility. However, it means different things to different companies, and most companies do not have a clear definition. Without a clear explanation, it is almost impossible for companies to be successful in implementing a visibility project. I write this "tongue in cheek," but I know that improving this capability is essential for supply chain recovery. In Figure 1, I share the gaps. The most significant weaknesses are in the areas of inbound logistics and shipments within the enterprise. Companies do better on outbound shipments to customers. However, all of these forms of visibility matter because reliable outputs require precise inputs.
Figure 1.Performance on Elements of Visibility
In the process of tabulating the data and reviewing it with business leaders, I learned three things.
1. Companies Dependent on 3PLs Rate Themselves Significantly Worse On Logistics Visibility Elements. Pre-COVID data available at the speed of business to drive logistics decisions was significantly worse for companies more dependent on 3PLs. (90% confidence level for companies reliant on 3PLs in North America for more than 65% of volume.) Visibility will become worse post-COVID-19. How so? The more nodes and the more parties in the supply chain, the harder it will be to get data. Data latency and interoperability with 3PLs is a barrier.
2. No Easy Answers. The dance with shiny objects is dangerous. There is no one technology to close the gaps. While companies brief me with over-zealous promises for their approaches. I struggle. Most technology innovators ae over-zealous without a great understanding of the supply chain. Don't fall victim to platitudes. My advice? Be cautious.
3. 组织差距是第一个开始的地方：如图2所示是组织能力的差距。当公司谈到以客户为中心的流程时，它们对大多数团队来说并不清楚。首先要从映射由外向内的流程和采用基于流程的思维开始。依赖于门户和EDI的公司将很快了解这些差距。门户是死路一条，而EDI 信号主要是批量处理的并且与业务流程不同步的。时间和数据流通是问题。
3. Organizational Gaps Are the First Place to Start: Shown in Figure 2 are the gaps in organizational capabilities. While companies speak of customer-centric process flows, they are not clear for most teams. The first place to start is mapping outside-in process flows and adopting process-based thinking. Companies dependent on portals and EDI will quickly learn that the gaps. Portals are dead-in streets, and EDI is signals are mainly batch and out-of-step with business processes. Time and data currency are issues.
Figure 2. Organizational Capabilities
As your organization redefines capabilities with the post-COVID-19 recovery, think holistically and outside-in. Prepare yourself for levels of turbulence that you have not seen before. Map the supply chain outside-in, seek new forms of data to help improve visibility and eliminate supply chain black holes.