Transforming supply chains
So, how can businesses boost the resilience of their supply chains? Fundamentally, they need to move away from having rigid, linear supply chains to operating within agile, networked ecosystems by focusing on five key areas:
- Assessment and strategy. Conduct an end-to-end supply chain risk assessment to stress test the supply chain, identify critical risk scenarios and define potential responses.
- Capability build-out. Invest in key supply chain capabilities, including visibility and monitoring, alternative business operating models, alternative supplier sourcing strategies, network flexibility and agile planning.
- Intelligence monitoring. Implement risk monitoring and reporting tools, as well as an early warning system that enables a rapid early response to risks or disruptions. Undertake new product risk assessments and look for changes in demand and supply. Conduct ongoing risk and controls assessments, including systems and facility risk and cyber reviews.
- Operating procedures. Put in place a Plan B for disruptive events, covering operating procedures and responses to predefined supply disruption triggers, such as a natural disaster or terrorist attack. Work to ensure there is clear delegation of authority and decision-making and that external and internal communication protocols are in place.
- Major crisis management. Put in place a crisis management framework for major events where predefined responses will be inadequate. This should be accompanied by governance procedures, a desired operating model and standard ways of working.
No one can predict the full social and economic impact of the COVID-19 outbreak – or, indeed, of any event with global impact. Nevertheless, it has served as a reminder to businesses that the risk of an unexpected disruptive event is ever-present and if they want to continue to serve their customers and communities during a period of disruption, they need to be proactive in their planning.
These are steps companies can take now to help ensure their supply chains are transformed in ways that help them function effectively, even when stressed and stretched by unexpected global events. It’s not simply about protecting profits. The resilience of supply chains is critical to securing the health and well-being of people all over the world.