I think we can all agree that 2020 has been a challenging year all round. For those of us working in procurement and supply chain, we have had to adapt to new ways of working, fluctuating costs and demand and all manner of other operational changes. While health experts warn of a second wave of COVID-19 it is vital that we take stock of lessons learnt and prepare ourselves as best we can for any further impact - particularly those to our supply chain.
Read on to discover some actionable tips on building and maintaining a strong supply chain in anticipation of a second COVID wave.
Make sure you have a complete understanding of your supply chain
The effects of COVID-19 on the procurement and supply chain highlighted the urgent need for companies to get a firmer grasp on every element of their supply chain. This includes every supplier from end-to-end, including Tier2 and Tier 3 suppliers. You should have a thorough understanding of everything they do for your business as well as a good understanding of their wider operations that might not have such an obvious connection to you. This can help you understand the whole profile of risks that they are exposed to and any knock-on effects these might have on you.
You should also make sure both you and your teams have a complete grasp of the cash flows in your business and that all processes are mapped, stored and communicated well.
Ensure your current risk prevention strategies and business continuity plans are fit for purpose
The events of 2020 have taught us a great deal about the need to be agile. Naturally, we can’t plan for every eventuality but it’ll be the smart businesses that learn from their experiences and mistakes - and those of their competitors - and adjust their risk prevention strategies and business continuity plans accordingly.
Consider what your known risks are now and what they might be in the future. Map these out against your business continuity plan, including contingencies wherever possible. This shouldn’t be a lone exercise completed by management. Get all relevant members of your team on board in your assessments and get their approval of the continuity plan. It is them who will be carrying it out, after all.
Look beyond the bottom line
The procurement and supply chain sector is extremely competitive when it comes to costs. While it is important to pay close attention to the bottom line, you should also consider the other important factors that make a business successful in both the long and short term. Your business must be reliable, it must be resilient and adaptable to change. It needs to be agile and be able to address new challenges swiftly and effectively. It needs to embrace relevant new technologies and its people willing to adopt them. It needs to be sustainable, both in terms of its ability to survive, but also in its approach to protecting the environment.
Streamline your communication channels
In times of crisis, we are all prone to failures in communication. It is every business leader’s responsibility to make sure that communication channels are effective and fit for purpose, both internally and externally. This is particularly important considering that many of us are still working from home, and are likely to be doing so for the foreseeable future. If you’ve been meaning to invest in new comms technologies then now’s the time. You could also consider surveying your team to gauge what their experience was of company communications throughout the pandemic and where they would like to see improvements. It might also be useful to talk to your supply chain and/or clients to see if there are ways you could work together more effectively. Strong business relationships are vital in procurement and supply chain and showing that you are willing to help and support them will only benefit both parties in the long run.
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