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September 24, 2014
Do you have the right visibility in your supply chain?
By: Roddy Martin

It is no surprise that visibility continues to challenge the ongoing transformation of the end-to- end life sciences supply chain. Supply chain executives, together with their IT counterparts, continue to struggle to achieve visibility across the supply chain through the integration of systems, data, processes and people. The holistic execution and synchronization challenge to achieve this visibility is difficult. This challenge is a result of a lack of end-to-end processes, cross functional integration, and data integrity across multiple internal and external systems. To complicate matters further, the business and supply chain are not organized to support end-to-end process and collaboration, and siloed metrics drive competitive trade-offs across the business.  The end result, business performance analysis and execution decisions have increasingly become difficult. It can take days to make a decision that results in sub-optimal business performance. Achieving timely access, where it matters, to critical information, enables supply chain executives to not only answer the question “What is happening now?” but also “What should I be preparing for?” With improved visibility, life sciences companies can achieve a number of critical business objectives including improved speed to market, more effective inventory management, better customer service, reduced risk and increased quality.  All of this leads to improved business performance that ties directly into your corporate objectives and bottom line.

Recently, we invited a group of life sciences supply chain executives attending last week’s annual Logipharma conference in Princeton, New Jersey to participate in Accenture’s VIP Think Tank to share their experiences related to increasing visibility. The dialogue also touched on the transformation to end to end, demand-driven capabilities and the use of new emerging technologies such as control tower.

The discussion was active and engaging as executives discussed the imperative of strengthened visibility and the implications to other elements of the supply chain ecosystem which enable visibility, and ultimately, business performance.  There was agreement across the participants that supply chain success is highly dependent on gaining visibility to critical focus areas across the end-to-end network – “We need to understand what we are trying to solve and then build a visibility capability to achieve that goal”.  End-to-end visibility is not about seeing and analyzing everything – rather, consciously defining the “right” things you need to see to respond and execute for increased predictability and speed. Anticipate variability faster, and become agile enough to manage what could happen. One participant commented, “As our organization scaled, we realized we had too much information to manage, it became imperative for us to focus on ‘exception events’ and to understand the consequences of those exceptions to our process.”  

One participant also emphasized that we must realize the supply chain is a network –visibility must span to include all the connections across that network, within and outside of the business. We cannot be seen as something static or linear.

Stay tuned for more perspective on visibility. In our next blog, we’ll also share the group’s views and experiences with another end-to-end visibility challenge – the struggle to get the right talent to deliver visibility and insight in support of the ever-changing supply chain.

For more on Accenture Strategy click here.

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