There’s no preparing for a black swan event like the coronavirus pandemic. While most businesses have safeguards in place to deal with adversity, there’s simply no anticipating something so globally disruptive as a pandemic. All we can do is learn from what has already happened. From a supply chain perspective, there’s a lot to learn about resilience, flexibility, and transparency. The question is, how can companies use the lessons learned over the past year to strengthen their supply chains going forward?
Here’s a look at 10 best practices that have helped companies safeguard against protracted disruption and how they can help rebuild supply chains stronger than ever.
- Continually re-evaluate contracts: Keep up-to-date, detailed service contracts that outline critical terms and conditions. This includes a full accounting of services, levels of reporting, terms and conditions, and other service level agreement (SLA) specifications.
- Vet and categorize partners: Are your current partners able to meet your needs? What’s their ability to scale in tandem with your demand? Do you have multiple partners for the same materials? Take a 1,000-foot view of your partners into account.
- Invest in ongoing education: The best protection against supply chain disruption is an empowered, resourceful workforce. If the people governing your supply chain can think and act critically, you’re left with options when disruption strikes.
- Stay abreast of legal and industry standards: If your supply chains cross borders, be aware of the political and economic developments occurring within each region. More important, keep yourself and your partners aligned with new legal and industry standards.
- Moderate RFPs (cycle): Ask yourself if you need to conduct a full request for proposal (RFP) cycle each year, and take into consideration how this affects supplier and partner relationships. Streamline the RFP cycle, and consider alternatives if traditional RFPs are cumbersome.
- Audit and assess practices: Make sure your supply chain is tight at every point in the chain of custody. Don’t just audit for loss; audit for process compliance, licensing, tech, personnel, and anything else that affects supply chain performance.
- Invest in cybersecurity: As the supply chain becomes increasingly digital, take steps to protect data. From simple tech security training to investments in next-gen blockchain technology, make sure your supply chain data is locked down.
- Invest in Internet of Things (IoT) and tech: Tech is key in reducing supply chain costs and improving supply chain agility. From GPS-enabled sensors to encrypted automations that streamline custody changes, investments in tech today will equate to strength over the long term.
- Emphasize supply chain visibility: Where is your product, and is it being handled accordingly? Consider end-to-end visibility when plotting new supply chains, and partner with suppliers committed to delivering the transparency you need.
- Consider optimization and restoring: Distance and cost are two variables to consider when strengthening supply chains. Post-pandemic, they’re more interchangeable than ever. Ask yourself whether finding a supplier close to home is worth the price of stability.
Above all, conduct risk assessments and monitor the weak points in your supply chain. With new global disruptions popping up in the wake of COVID-19, it’s more important than ever for companies to understand every incremental part of their supply chain. Once you have a top-down view, it becomes easier to implement these 10 best practices and to bring new strength and resilience to your global supply chains.
nVision Global is ready to support companies as they seek to strengthen their supply chains and shore up their logistics. Explore our solutions for freight audit and payment, transportation management systems (TMSs), business intelligence solutions, and more as you look ahead to the future of your supply chains. Visit our website at nvisionglobal.com