Written by: Donna Kirk – Pro Leaders Academy

No matter how much preparation goes into contingency scenarios, companies, organisations and governments can still be faced with seemingly insurmountable challenges when disaster strikes.

The procurement process can be significantly interrupted by over demand, under supply or even the inability to access your normal networks of supply.

Here are 5 key areas you should focus on when dealing with your supply chain in the event of a disaster.

  1. Ensure total visibility.If there is ever a time to increase transparency, it is during a crisis. With transparency it is easier for all parties to explore solutions and expedite responses with each other. Having real-time access to data such as tracking information similarly allows retailers, carriers, and suppliers to easily and seamlessly reroute shipments or re-position inventory. Asking the question “can you deliver this another way” is a simple question that can invite innovation or simply identify another area of the business that you may not have considered because there wasn’t a need for it before.
  2. Capture the differences. As supply and demand patterns can fluctuate considerably during and in the aftermath of a disaster, it is equally important to capture and communicate these variances so you can re-allocate labour resources and appropriate assets to where it is needed. In lieu of managing forecasts from disparate sources, it is prudent to establish one source of accurate data so that all supply chain parties can act in unison.
  3. Designate a Point Person.Throughout a disaster, a lack of organisation and coordination can easily infiltrate a vulnerable supply chain. Establish a chain of command that engages all functions and planning teams and is directly responsible for creating a Business Continuity Plan. This person or group can identify all possible disruptions to the company’s operations and determine how to quickly address these concerns. When operating on the fly, costs can get out of control. Maintaining a central command in charge of the response can help control and mitigate unnecessary spend.
  4. Look to partners.One advantage of developing strong supply chain partnerships is the flexibility they provide when times get tough. In a true, gain-sharing environment, business partners have a vested interest in helping when you need it. You, in turn, reciprocate that trust by committing your business to them. Suppliers may be able to help you ramp up production and find capacity elsewhere or explore how to reroute services or provide alternative methods of delivery. This way, they may still be able to provide alternative solutions to meet demand.
  5. Remain flexible.Companies often face the greatest difficulties when they rigidly adhere to predetermined plans. That’s why opening lines of communication between internal departments and extended supply chain partners is critical. Keep planning fluid so you can respond to new challenges as they arise. For example, it may be necessary to consider alternate methods of delivery, different time frames or even different products to keep the process moving. You may have to adapt facility operating hours and bring in additional labour resources to ensure they are accessible at a moment’s notice. Companies can often uncover new strategies for execution in the face of adversity. It just takes a little thought and a lot of communication.
NOTE: The content of this article is intended to provide a general guide to the subject matter, and specialist advice should be sought about your specific circumstances. The content must not be relied upon as legal, technical, financial or other professional advice.