As any procurement practitioner with experience of supply chain management and supplier relationship management can testify, supply disruptions are less a series of unfortunate events than a way of life. But blending the right tools with the right partners and the best risk management practices can go a long way to mitigating the effects.
Writing for Forbes magazine, logistics trends researcher Cathy Morrow Roberson advocates dropping attempts to run supply chains via spreadsheets and emails and adopt new technologies such as mobile track-and-trace and purchase order management instead. They simplify the task of keeping a live overview on freight, allowing practitioners to off-set a delayed delivery of, say, tyres, by identifying where similar parts are located. And they help to get them to where they’re needed, too
Effective supplier relationship management is also crucial: if disruptions result in delayed shipments, a supplier with a strong network of relationships can be a lifesaver of a partner. A little “logistics creativity” may at times be necessary, like altering the port of discharge for cargo travelling inland. An experienced and well-connected supplier like this can substantially reduce the impact of the disruption.
It’s difficult to imagine risks ever ceasing to evolve. But emerging new tech-driven supply chain risk management consultancies can be a Godsend given such a never-ending scenario, bringing their own continually-evolving methods of monitoring, preparing for and reacting to possible supply chain disruptions around the clock.
The earthquake and tsunami that struck Japan in 2011 was a game-changer, forcing global companies to work on determining how their suppliers, warehouses and shipments could be impacted by a major disruption of this sort – developments which gave them a significant competitive advantage.
Roberson concludes: “Every day, supply chain companies must navigate a world of risk. To do that successfully requires flexibility and the agility to respond quickly to unexpected disruptions. That’s why it’s crucial that companies have the right technology, tools and partners to help manage and mitigate both known and unknown risks.”