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Preparing for a pandemic-like crisis

No one was truly prepared for the pandemic. That is understandable. We do not prepare for something that is not likely to happen.

The COVID-19 disruptions affected all aspects of businesses, and we saw how even exceptionally reliable suppliers could no longer deliver. The pandemic exposed the weaknesses of some of the best supply chain practices. It is now clear that we need to have mitigation plans for our supply chain, for any future pandemics or other disastrous events.

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We asked our supply chain management expert, Norman Adriano, for advice.

1. Collaborate intimately with customers and suppliers.

“Intimately” is the operative word here. Mutual trust must be enhanced and nurtured. Now more than ever, we must be “intimate” with our customers: know their planning processes and who makes those plans. Then you can work with those people to look at the relevant projections. That is how demand is captured now, not only by looking at historical sales. Then we should do the same with our suppliers. Earn your suppliers’ trust by mutually be willing to share information and being open to process suggestions for improvement. Be aware that you are the bridge between your suppliers and customers. While we must change the way we capture demand from our customers, we must also change how we treat our suppliers. We cannot do the same things and expect different results.

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2. Map the supply chain.

It is now essential more than ever to start looking beyond your direct suppliers and direct customers. Ask your suppliers: who are your suppliers? Ask your customers: who are your customers? You must know the risks confronting your suppliers’ suppliers and your customers’ customers. When you have an intimate and collaborative relationship with your direct customers and suppliers, you can work together to identify the risks in their operations, locations and their own suppliers and customers down the line. And together, you can create mitigation plans for those risks. Remember: their risks are also your risks.

3. Have healthy paranoia.

When doing risk analysis, businesses usually only prepare for events most likely to occur and the ones with a critical impact. Yet, look at the ones that really devastated the country in recent memory: Typhoons “Ondoy” and “Yolanda,” plus of course, the pandemic. Add to that list the intermittent Taal Volcano eruptions. Risk analysts (and business leaders), therefore, must now maintain healthy paranoia to include in their list of risks some least likely to occur events with the potential to devastate their business. INQ

Adriano will conduct a virtual workshop on “Supply Chain Mapping: Staying Competitive and Resilient during any pandemic-like crisis” this Aug. 22-23.

Write [email protected], or contact 0919-3428667 and 0998-9641731. For other online learning needs, Inquirer Academy could assist you in designing and facilitating a virtual workshop, webinar or self-paced online course for your organization.

The author is the executive director of Inquirer Academy.

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TAGS: Business, INQUIRER Academy, pandemic, Trailblazer
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