Supply Chain Lessons from the Pandemic

When the Coronavirus pandemic swept across the globe, many things changed. Between new government regulations and healthcare techniques, businesses were left in a tough spot. The supply chain experienced significant disruption, throwing many operations out of balance.

Leading supply chain management thought leaders and publications are talking about the supply chain lessons from the pandemic. Many of these lessons focus on diversifying supply chains and taking a more active role in supply chain management. Let’s go through these so your business can learn from them.

Diversify Supply Chains

In any supply chain management blog you read, one recurring theme about pandemic lessons is the need to diversify. Putting all your eggs in one bucket can come around to hurt you. While having more suppliers can mean more work and overhead costs, it might be your saving grace when things get tough. 

Multiple Sources

The first step in diversifying your supply chain is to get your products and materials from multiple sources whenever possible. While maintaining brand consistency is a significant concern, being able to function during stressful times is also essential.

At this point, we know many places can be shut away from society or have their manufacturing sites shut down entirely if an emergency strikes. Don’t let this ripple through your business and impact your customers by having multiple sources for materials and products. 

Geographic Mixture

Since emergencies often hit particular locations harder than others, spreading your supply chain across multiple geographical areas can reduce risk. Whether it’s a natural disaster, pandemic, or another unforeseen event, it’s best to avoid being too deeply reliant on one area.

Instead, try to use locations that complement one another. If one has a specific geographical risk, search for another that doesn’t share the same attribute. You can also look for ones that have different government and industry regulations.

Maintain Direct Connections with Suppliers

Sometimes, middlemen play a vital role in supply chain operations. Other times they don’t serve many purposes, and difficult business decisions might be warranted. If you can reduce the number of points between you and a supplier, you’ll reduce the risk of disrupted communications during pandemics or other emergent or crisis situations.

Supply Chain Monitoring and Active Management

We’ve reviewed the ways you can set yourself up for success by adjusting your current supply chain strategy. But the road doesn’t end here. Supply chain management is an ongoing concern.

Real-Time Systems and Responses

What worked yesterday might not work tomorrow. And that’s why you need to keep tabs on your supply chain in real time. Having reliable contacts and people monitoring the supply side of your business is a crucial element.

Forming responses ahead of time is always a great idea. Get ahead by planning out responses to certain changes. Then when anticipated events occur, you’re not starting from scratch. You can immediately execute plans that are already designed, tested, and perfected.

Forward-Looking Analysis

No one has a crystal ball to see into the future. But we all can observe the world around us and anticipate what might happen. Take this mind frame and apply it to your supply chain.

In the supply chain management blogs, you’ll find many people discussing the importance of identifying trends to create the best responses. Keeping a forward-looking viewpoint allows you to preemptively take steps in the right direction rather than haphazardly respond.

Create a Disaster Plan

It’s not always easy to think about the future and the most difficult times that may come. But it’s necessary to consider the worst of the worst. It doesn’t make you a pessimist. It keeps you grounded and prepared. Just like a building needs a fire escape plan, your business should have a disaster plan for many situations. 

You might need to handle workforce challenges, address product recalls, or shift operations to new locations after natural disasters like flooding, fires, and hurricanes. Take the time to brainstorm these situations, discuss the plan, and establish a procedure.

Supply Chain Lessons from the Pandemic

The Coronavirus pandemic impacted the world in many ways. For businesses, the supply chain lessons from the pandemic are vast. Following a few of your favorite supply chain management blogs and publications will keep you updated on the latest news and impacts. 

In the meantime, work on diversifying your supply chain by using multiple suppliers across different locations. Then put some effort into active supply chain management and monitoring, including disaster planning.

By taking these steps, you can stay ahead of the worst supply chain disruptions.

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