It’s likely that many if not most supply chain professionals have experienced disruption at some point in their careers. Whether disruptions come from a natural disaster, a man-made accident, or some sort of civil unrest, most of these disruptions have a finite time in which they took place. A major storm could cause a disruption, but it will be over in a matter of days. With the ongoing, rolling disruption of a global pandemic we are still in the midst of the crisis even after overcoming and dealing with the initial shocks to the supply chain. We checked with some of the experts, and here are some strategies we thought were worth considering to help maximize your organization’s Supply Chain resilience.
Look at the box as well as outside of it
Unexpected shortages are likely to arise, with new ones popping up just as others are resolved. Now is one of those times where it could be effective to talk to your suppliers, look at your specs, and see if there aren’t any workarounds that might be possible. If there are critical shortages, work together to find a replacement. For example, if a supplier is out of a particular container, box, or pallet, but a bag or sack is in stock and will do the job, consider modifying requirements to fit what is available. These types of modifications won’t just help your business flow; they could also help to keep your critical suppliers and even second-tier suppliers afloat through the crisis.
You know those tasks that are always on the to-do list but never seem to get done? Now might be a great time to get them taken care of. If you and your team have the time, consider reworking those processes that need to be streamlined, scrubbing that data that needs to be cleaned up, or other housekeeping tasks that seem to be ignored in favor of higher priority projects.
Also, if there are any big technology buys that have been put off, this crisis might help prove that tech upgrades are critical business needs and not just something that would be nice to have. The old axiom says to never waste a good crisis, and this one could prove to critical decision makers that adopting more automated processes could be the key to survival and not something that just provides a modest strategic advantage.
Take a deep breath and prepare
As you try to stay calm and focused in the middle of a disruption, also keep in mind that it will come to a close. There have already been some demand shocks, and there are certainly more to come. While demand for many products might wane during a disruption, it will likely pick back up once it is over. Rather than being caught off guard by the bullwhip effect, do your best to figure out where demand will likely pick up. By thinking now about minimizing the impact of a sudden upswing in demand, you can work at keeping your supply chain moving right on track.
The most important thing we can do is to try to keep calm and stay focused. This applies no matter which organization we work for or what duties are listed in our job description.