Supply chain risk management, In the aftermath of COVID-19, many businesses have been affected. The illness has caused a shortage in supply, and this is impacting the global economy. To mitigate these effects on your supply chain, you should take a systematic approach to reduce risk and improve efficiency. Here are five ways that you can do so:
Develop Contingency Plans for Disruptions in Supply Chain due to Natural Disasters or Pandemic Outbreaks;
First, Identify and prioritize critical supply chains done through business impact analysis. If a company cannot focus on its essential chains of supply, the entire business will fail. Thus, companies must prioritize their necessary supplies and figure out which ones would be most beneficial for them if they were lost or compromised in some way. They conduct an impact analysis to know what it means when one of these vital resources becomes unavailable.
Secondly, Create a contingency plan for business continuity in case of disruption to the supply chain. It includes developing alternative channels and identifying critical operations that need support from suppliers or other partners. Other examples could be maintaining contingency contracts with alternative suppliers to have someone else fulfill obligations if one becomes unavailable.
Third, Determine how best to maintain inventory levels when supplies are disrupted by considering factors such as expected volume after the event has passed along with any potential risks involved. While some firms opt into purchasing additional stock in case things go wrong, others prefer going less risky routes – either having enough supply pre-existing at all times.
They are mitigated by diversifying suppliers, changing routes, or stockpiling inventory. For example, a company could work with multiple suppliers to ensure that they all have the same materials and meet standards set forth by the business owner.
Another solution is reorganizing supply chains, so products are delivered more efficiently through different vehicles such as planes instead of trucks, allowing faster delivery times if an unforeseen event disrupts travel plans on land during transportation periods. Finally, one option may be stockpiling products in warehouses near your customers to fill empty shelves quickly should disaster strike at any point along their production process.
Establishing relationships with vendors with backup facilities may reduce your organization’s risk from natural disasters, such as earthquakes and hurricanes.
Furthermore, build partnerships with other companies who share your risks, so you have more resources available to mitigate them.
Update Inventory Management Systems with Accurate Product Information
The first step in updating inventory management systems is to gather precise product information through the following elements: location, quantity on hand, and minimum order quantities. Doing so will help identify strengths & weaknesses to be improved upon, including which areas need more attention than others and allowing companies to seek solutions.
Barcodes are a quick and efficient way to make sure products get where they need to go. These barcodes are read by machines, which then upload the information into the system. Another option for gathering accurate product information is using RFID tags by a scanner or handheld device.
Update the database to include all products and their corresponding details. Make sure to keep it updated as new products are introduced and old ones removed.
It will ensure that accurate information is being transferred between retailers, wholesalers, distributors, suppliers & customers throughout the supply chain – leading to increased efficiency and improved customer service.
Labeling each item with its name, price, and quantity will help track sold items. It will also assist in managing inventory. Accurate product information is vital for inventory management systems to be effective – so this process must begin as soon as possible. Continue updating the database as inventory is updated.
It will ensure accurate information is being transferred between retailers, wholesalers, distributors, suppliers & customers throughout the supply chain – leading to increased efficiency and improved customer service.
Finally, make sure you’re storing items according to how they’ll be displayed – if an item will be on display in one area of the store, put it there instead of behind another shelf where customers won’t see it. Be sure to organize your store according to where you want the items displayed. For example, if an item will be on display in one store area, put it there instead of behind another shelf where customers won’t see it.
Invest in Alternatives to Preserve Existing Critical Supply Chain
Review your organization’s current inventory of essential supplies. Strategic supplies are crucial for organizational operations, and disruptions are being mitigated through having framework contracts with original equipment manufacturers (OEMs) or suppliers.
Alternatives can replace critical supplies during shortages if they are on contract with an OEM, but only in the case of a loss of production capacity at that supplier. Choices would need to have similar specifications as the critical supply and should not affect other parts supplied to your organization from this same vendor.
Furthermore, Identify any gaps in the supply chain, increase capacity wherever possible, and develop a strategy for managing shortages. Supply chain gaps can be closed by identifying a new supplier, working with your current supplier to increase production capacity, or developing tiered contracts that give you the ability to switch between suppliers.
Plan to purchase new supplies before existing ones run out. It is important to have contracts for all critical supplies, not just the ones in use. Contracts should outline what will happen if a significant disruption occurs and how your organization can quickly get additional supplies or alternatives if needed.
Establish an emergency backup plan if you need to replenish your supply chain quickly (e.g., by ordering through a supplier) or if your organization cannot purchase critical supplies. An organization without alternative suppliers needs to establish contacts with other organizations that have access to the same store or a substitute material. However, this could create complicated legal issues, so it should only be done as a final resort when all else fails.
Create a budget plan to allocate funds for your future purchases and emergencies. Monitor progress throughout the year to stay on track with supply chain goals. By reviewing contracts for critical supplies regularly, organizations can better plan their budgets and avoid unnecessary spending.
Monitor all suppliers carefully and consistently to ensure they are delivering on their contracts. Keeping track of suppliers and product specifications is an essential part of the supply chain management process.
The more a company knows about its supply chain, the better it can manage those resources. Much is available gives managers insight into their options for contingencies or alternatives during shortages of critical supplies. It will also allow them to plan for future purchases as new products are needed.
Train Staff on Business Continuity Plans through Exercises
Train staff on business continuity plans by conducting tabletop exercises. These types of training are a great way to discuss potential crises and what people should do in those cases. You can run through several different scenarios, including an earthquake or cyber-attack, with your staff members. Depending on company size, you’ll want to make sure that you plan and go through the scenarios with groups of people. You can make this a group activity by using something like an escape room, where you will have to solve puzzles for everyone on your team to get out alive.
Conduct a power outage drill to simulate what would happen if the building lost power that your disaster plan is up-to-date and functional, especially after making changes or additions.
Have staff members take turns playing the roles of different departments so they can see how their work affects other departments and vice versa. They support their coworkers and make them feel more connected. If you’re able to conduct this exercise in an open space, like the central area of your office, then everyone will be able to hear what’s happening and learn from it as well.
Conduct a fire drill to test where evacuation routes are, and practice evacuating quickly. Depending on the size of your company, you’ll want to make sure that you plan by testing these things out, so everyone is familiar with them. You can have one person play the role of an emergency responder or dispatcher who will guide everyone through the steps of what to do. For example, evacuating will not risk anyone if there is a fire in one part of your building. You’ll want to make sure that everyone stays calm and follows these instructions as closely as possible:- If they’re on an upper floor or above ground level, employees should use the stairwell, not the elevator.- If they’re on a lower level or underground floor, employees should use an alternate route that doesn’t involve going through a parking garage.
Hold an earthquake simulation to train employees on what actions should be taken during this disaster situation. Depending on your location, you’ll want to have specific plans in place for how people will evacuate the building safely and quickly if they smell gas or hear a loud crash. Everyone must know precisely where all exits are located so they can get out as quickly and safely as possible.
Ensure to hold these training once a year, so people don’t forget procedures and feel like it’s an unnecessary waste of time. The best way to make this experience more engaging is by using an activity or game, such as rewarding the team with candy for following instructions correctly during the drill.
Practice using emergency communication systems such as text messages or telephone calls if cell towers go down during a disaster. Your disaster plan is up-to-date and functional, especially after making changes or additions.
Conduct Robust Testing Procedures for New Products before they enter the Market
Conduct a preliminary study to determine if the product is viable. The first step should be to experiment to reveal whether or not this new idea can prove profitable and successful in real-life scenarios. Conducting experiments gives us vital information about how people respond to these products to predict consumer acceptance better. The idea has a strong chance of success; it is time to test the final version. The goal here should be to try whether the new products will work well in actual life applications by conducting a pilot study. A small group of people can provide invaluable feedback for future marketing and development plans.
After running your pilot study, it is time to conduct robust testing procedures for new products before entering the market. Conduct focus groups with a smaller group of people who will provide feedback on what they like and don’t like about product design, pricing structure. Marketing research results from surveys or social media analysis to make more informed business decisions about the product.
Your research and testing procedures, then move forward with marketing it to a broader audience. Conduct focus groups again after launch to ensure that customers like what they see. This feedback loop will help you continually refine your products into better versions.
If there are no significant problems, then proceed with the full-scale production and marketing campaign.
Monitor feedback from customers and make changes as needed based on their responses—Monitor feedback throughout the process to determine if your product meets customer needs. You should expect that some of what you learn will be negative, but it’s important not discourage you. Unfavorable results can also provide valuable insight into how people respond, so you know where to make changes to your product.
Once you have determined that the new products meet customer needs, it is time to move forward with marketing and sales efforts. Continue monitoring feedback from customers throughout this stage because some of what they say will indicate ways to improve upon the existing version of your product or offer additional variants based on their preferences.
If the product is enjoying success, you have successfully conducted robust testing procedures for new products before entering the market. Continue to monitor customer feedback and use it in future product development efforts so that your company remains competitive with other brands on the market.
If your company’s supply chain is disrupted, you may be able to mitigate the effects of this disruption by taking a systematic approach. Develop contingency plans for disruptions in supply chains due to natural disasters or pandemic outbreaks. Update inventory management systems with accurate product information and invest in alternatives to preserve existing critical supplies; businesses must have robust testing procedures for new products before entering the market. Training staff on business continuity exercises and conducting these tests will help ensure a successful recovery from any disaster affecting your operations. Supply chain business continuity plans need to be designed ahead of time to prepare you for anything that happens during an emergency.
Chris Ekai is a Risk Management expert with over 10 years of experience in the field. He has a Master’s degree in Risk Management from University of Portsmouth and is a CPA and Finance professional. He currently works as a Content Manager at Risk Publishing, writing about Enterprise Risk Management, Business Continuity Management and Project Management.