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President’s Corner: Supply Chains and COVID-19 – How much control have you regained?

The year 2020 has been a challenge for many companies. The global pandemic combined with the Oil price crash in March forced businesses into mass lay-offs and caused almost a complete global standstill!

Companies with traditional working environments had to jump immediately into a remote working concept. They immediately found that a significant portion of their workforce was not set up to perform their duties remotely due to lack of process, infrastructure, and capabilities. While most companies had business continuity and disaster recovery plans in place, the reality is they had never been seriously tested outside of the four walls of the company’s office buildings. Tasks that were fundamental to keeping operations running failed, and many companies were pushed to the brink of catastrophic failure – some past the brink. 

Despite systems and processes put in place with the express purpose of keeping companies moving even in crisis mode, operations struggled or failed to live up to their promise to keep the companies alive. Executives, management, industry leaders, consulting companies, etc. have all been confronted with questions as simple as “Now what?” “How are we controlling the situation?” “What are the critical next steps?”

These are very valid and pressing questions, but there was no simple answer or playbook available that would provide a solution. Challenges and disruptions were numerous, diverse, and inconsistent – just when a supply chain would plug one hole, a new part of the organization would spring a leak. Today, many of us are spending significant time struggling to find solutions for the problems of the ‘new norm’ while still trying to establish a seamless business operation. Trying to operate today with the processes we used until March 2020 does not work anymore. Too many changes and challenges occurred in the short period of months since then, including:  

  • Remote working
  • Workforce changes / lay-offs / down-sizing
  • System limitations and incapability
  • Workforce education and efficiency
  • Communication and execution challenges between Customer and Supplier or Customer and Service Provider
  • Temporary or permanent loss of key suppliers and providers

Solutions to these changes and challenges are required for us to get back to a certain form of ‘business as usual’. It’s more than just new processes and systems that are needed – supply chains need to shift to a mindset that gives them more agility and innovation.

Reflect on your current situation and ask yourself:

What is your solution to regain control and create value within your supply chain?

Marco Boos, President