Extended supply networks create substantial obstacles in terms of supply chain visibility and coordination. Achieving all-inclusive visibility is no easy feat when you are faced with various geographically dispersed sites and partners, each using disparate data systems that capture information in a particular way for a particular function.
ERP systems (and their associated modules) have a very "inside-out" perspective of the world and struggle to incorporate data from external organizations as anything other than reference information. Executing and recording all business transactions is undoubtedly an important aspect of a company's operational capabilities, but as a means of predicting the ability to satisfy future demand in a cost-effective and efficient manner, this "inside-out" view is slow and cumbersome. It mandates a sequential process in which each node and trading partner along the supply chain separately and individually evaluates its ability to satisfy upstream demand with only partial downstream information. The information flow latency—and therefore decision latency—in this arrangement is enormous.