Improved Information Connectivity and Visibility throughout the Global Supply Base

Improved Information Connectivity and Visibility throughout the Global Supply Base

William Wilson, Kevin Duffy
Copyright: © 2010 |Pages: 15
DOI: 10.4018/jec.2010100104
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Although the literature frequently examines achieving an integrated supply chain and participating in information sharing with supply chain partners, there is little guidance given to firms on how to progress to a state where these goals can become reality. This paper examines the struggles of one firm in moving toward information sharing with its suppliers and its hopes of achieving an integrated supply chain. This paper reveals lessons learned from the difficulties the firm encountered during the integration process. Despite putting an information system in place, the company discovered that people issues matter as much, if not more, than technology issues.
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Globalization and global supply chain operation, and supply chain visibility have become buzzwords for organizations in recent years. Customers demand more data concerning shipping, especially as businesses attempt to move toward just-in-time inventory management or to incorporate lean philosophies into their firms’ practices. Unfortunately, one part of the global supply chain that hasn’t kept pace with these increasing demands is the shipping function1.

This lack of data, or lack of information visibility, is a problem for many firms who trade with multiple supply chain partners in multiple locations. Many of these companies lack the information technology infrastructure necessary to collect the information from partners. Hence, visibility should be one of the greatest benefits to emerge from supply chain event management (SCEM). Concurring with this, Marabotti (2002, pp. 2-3) notes that event management has the potential to yield huge payoffs within a short time frame, especially for those organizations needing to

  • Monitor large numbers of markets, channels, customers, suppliers and products

  • Support new product launches

  • Track key performance indicators, and

  • Balance supply and demand.

This paper explores one firm’s efforts to integrate its supply chain and share information among global supply chain partners. We first review the literature concerning information sharing and its benefits. We then turn to the experiences of this particular organization, describing its attempt to link systems with the systems of its suppliers. We conclude with a discussion of its successes and failures and lessons learned.

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