In our first blog in this series, Blockchain: The Secret Sauce to Supply Chain Visibility, we covered why visibility is so crucial in the supply chain for all parties and gave examples of firms using distributed ledgers to help improve customer service, reduce inventory costs, provide proactive status updates, and help mitigate risk. Per our last article, Starting Down the Road to Supply Chain Visibility, we discussed Perficient’s recommendations regarding processes to provide supply chain visibility. In this blog, we thought to offer the recommended next steps in the supply chain visibility journey.
Once the business outcomes and pain points have been documented and prioritized and technology has been assessed, Perficient recommends that the next step be to determine what the inventory visibility capability should be. Not all people need to see if the pizza you didn’t order is on the way. Even if you did place an order, do all consumers need to see what it is? If you have multiple suppliers, do they all need to see the status of the inventory being sent to you? Perhaps yes, so they may know if they could make a delivery instead. Perhaps not, as the information needs to be on a need-to-know basis.
What about third parties? Do internal/external auditors need to know? Do members of the finance team (aka “the bean counters”) need access to view the status of inventory? Perhaps regulators will want/need access to satisfy their inquiries.
The requested visibility capability from clients often starts with procurement. This makes sense since it is procurement that is often (but not always) the starting point for a new transaction from the supply chain. Frequently, Accounts Payable is the next part of the client firm that wants access to view the supply chain so they know when to pay for inventory, and many times Finance wants to know so they can more easily plan cashflows. In the experience of the authors, project management is frequently the next internal stakeholder who wants access to view the supply chain so that inventory can be planned, and related resources can be procured on a timely basis.
Strategic Roadmap Required?
Creating inventory visibility in a firm’s supply chain can be daunting. However, it is not a process that needs to be done all at once. Many clients begin the process by providing internal supply chain access and end the journey by providing external access. Distributed ledger technology, including blockchains, can be built in planned stages, with more data added as subsequent stakeholders get added view-only or editable access to the ledger. Internal stakeholders may be added first and external stakeholders, whether other members either upstream or downstream of the client in the supply chain may be added in a later phase, with other parties, such as regulators or auditors added in a phase to be determined at some point in the future. Many clients begin with internal access and end the journey by providing external access.
It is because of the phased stages, which often take up to two years, that an overall roadmap is suggested prior to the actual build being started. When done properly, the entire build can be built with phased implementation, with tollgates along the way to ensure the current path is still desired. The planning at the start of the journey before the build commences is why the most successful supply chain visibility journeys are staffed with certified product owners and project managers to ensure the entire team is working together in a coordinated fashion.
The last online article in our series of 3 blogs concludes with the need for product ownership and project management skills to be utilized on your supply chain visibility journey to ensure any technical builds are done in a coordinated manner. Also, phased deliveries are likely to be desired so that stakeholders can start benefiting from the project along the way rather than waiting for a significant transition point to provide visibility to all stakeholders simultaneously.
If you would like to hear how Perficient can help you with your supply chain visibility, reach out to us here.
About the Authors:
Carl Aridas has been a member of Perficient’s Digital Assets Team since 2021. Supporting mostly large financial services firms, he is certified in the Scaled Agile Framework (SAFe), is a Scrum Master, and is a Six Sigma Green Belt project manager.
Lin Eshleman has been a member of Perficient’s Supply Chain team since 2021. Supporting large, cross-industry Supply Chain firms, he has a PMP certification and is a Six Sigma Green Belt project manager.