It would be an understatement to say that COVID-19 threw most businesses for a loop. The disruption of every supply chain has left many scrambling to find balance in a time of great uncertainty. What worked for your supply chain prior to COVID-19 may have become obsolete practically overnight. If you fall into that category, know that you are not alone.
While we are in the midst of experiencing the unexpected, we have to stand up, dust ourselves off, and adapt to our new reality. Hopefully, you already have an overall strategy, and decisions are being made with the end game in mind. But if not, there are things we can do to improve our businesses.
One necessity for many is to pivot in some way, shape, or form. If your supply chain management needs a pivot, here are three ways you can make that happen during COVID-19.
1. Embrace Technology
During times of upheaval and uncertainty, companies are finding it difficult to leverage their data to improve their supply chains. If you lost sleep over toilet paper concerns and suffered from night terrors involving empty bottles of hand sanitizer, it’s likely because you’re familiar with walking into stores looking for essentials and being greeted by empty shelves.
Keeping up with current supplies and adequately and efficiently maintaining an accurate inventory of what needs to be ordered, created, shipped, and sold continues to plague most global supply chains. Without accurate information, many companies end up lacking enough products or ordering the same product multiple times when it isn’t needed. Some companies are extremely overwhelmed by the current pandemic and are “panic-ordering.” They are shelling out thousands of dollars (that they may not even be able to afford) for items that may end up being obsolete.
It’s important to note that this isn’t simply a problem of human error. Many supply chains require machines to keep everything straight – it’s nearly impossible for people to do so. But to make things easier, supply chains will want to consider cognitive technology. So while the coronavirus crisis highlighted the need to fix these issues, the good news is that there are technologies, which can help companies improve operations and manage their supplies.
Companies will be better able to decrease their reliance on labor-intensive processes by enabling digital technology to reduce the pressure placed on human operations. For example, automated manufacturing can help a company to continue its operations while reducing employees and labor requirements.
2. Leverage Existing Assets and Resources
The COVID-19 pandemic has led to an unprecedented level of demand for eCommerce. The increased demand for home deliveries faced a difficult time in finding the necessary staff capacity to meet the order volume. However, the only way businesses will be able to adapt to these new “norms” is by leveraging their existing assets and resources. With a need for additional personnel, they can use advanced crowd-sourcing technologies to onboard new full and part-time workers.
To further combat the drastic change in demand, planners must locate what can be produced using alternate sourcing and what is currently available. Planners can rely on SAP Integrated Business Planning (IBP) to construct a comprehensive plan for their whole network and sub-networks.
Your company’s IBP can help establish actionable goals and use existing connections to improve production and distribution.
3. Don’t Be Afraid to Collaborate
To quote the profound lyricist, Vanilla Ice, “Stop, collaborate, and listen.” As simple as that may seem, it can make a world of difference when it comes to pivoting your supply chain for success.
Businesses and outsourced partners should collaborate to deepen their value. Outsourced providers have the experience and the networks to be able to help companies obtain the resources and personnel they need to remain strong. This collaboration can be done by working together to set and achieve key metrics.
Outsourced providers rally around employees and do what needs to be done to maintain strong client relationships. The outsourcing industry remains on its toes, thinking quickly, and solving new and always changing challenges.
For example, with many businesses forced to field an influx of calls and emails, they would have been unable to adapt without the assistance of an external partner helping them to scale.
To prepare for the ongoing impact of COVID-19, businesses are seeking the assistance of outsourced providers and focusing on key services such as infrastructure, systems, security, and processes. CIOs are focusing their energy on resolving immediate issues while also looking into the future and how their outsourced provider-partner can play a key role in planning.
To outlast the effects of the virus, companies must build action plans that can help limit the impact of the pandemic now and must align key KPIs to improve visibility. Refocusing on the plan and securing the right partner to help execute through collaboration will be an irreplaceable aspect to lead toward success.