If the novel coronavirus pandemic has taught us anything about supply chains, it has shown us the importance of building resiliency into your supply chain. Not just for pandemics, but other threats to supply chains like natural disasters, unpredictable markets, labor strikes, and others. This current crisis has really illuminated the challenges of dealing with major disruptions.
Corporate resiliency has been defined as the ability of a company to bounce back to normal performance levels after experiencing a major disruption. Many people are writing about this now. According to Yossi Sheffi, professor of Engineering Systems at MIT, supply chain resiliency can come from redundancy, flexibility, and culture. McKinsey talks about supply chain transparency, inventory, forecasting, and capacity. Harvard Business Review has been publishing about the importance of mapping out your supply chain network.
These are all excellent recommendations, and each have their differing merits. The central aspect of all of this is the suppliers in your supply chain network. Creating transparency in your supply chain involves identifying components in your chain that are sourced from high-risk areas, single-sourced, or lack substitutes. The chains for these components should be mapped back to raw materials if possible. Risks in the chain need to be identified, and where those risks could stop or severely impair the chain, alternative suppliers should be identified outside of the risk areas.1
In situations where alternative suppliers cannot be obtained. or finding and maintaining redundant suppliers is too expensive, then deep relationships must be developed with your critical suppliers. Deeper relationships will allow you to better monitor your supplier’s situation and collaboratively build risk continuity plans.2
Mapping out your supply chain, as mentioned previously, can be time-consuming and expensive but worth it. Drilling down into your supply chain all the way back to raw materials can identify unknown, key suppliers, with which you may not have a direct relationship. This requires you to dig into these unknown suppliers to understand what they do and assess risks associated with them.3
All of these activities require strong research capabilities. Research must be done to:
- Identify alternative sources of supply for critical components.
- Evaluate those alternative suppliers and assess risks associated with them.
- Monitor conditions with your existing suppliers so disruptions can be identified early, when they first arise.
- Identify suppliers at different tiers in your chain if your first-tier suppliers don’t have a clear view back into the chain.
- Understand the critical suppliers identified deeper in the chain with which you don’t have direct relationships.
Procurement teams are working hard to deal with the COVID-19 crisis, but they often don’t have the critical information they need, so their ability to effectively respond to the crisis has been hampered. Moreover, they are not research professionals so the added burden of having to 1) do the research to find alternative suppliers, 2) conduct further research to evaluate them, and 3) monitor suppliers to detect potential disruptions slows their response time further. Procurement professionals are spending too much time hunting for information and not enough time applying it to your supply chain recovery and resiliency. This is where ENGINE’s Accelerated Intelligence service can help you.
Through our Supplier Research and Product Sample Acquisition, we can help you identify alternative sources of critical components, products, materials, and services. We conduct deep-dive research on suppliers to understand their business models, key partnerships (customers and suppliers), operations, products, key personnel, locations, legal issues, corruption, and other aspects you need to understand for your evaluations. We obtain product samples your engineering teams need for testing before committing to order – anything from single parts to drum and pallet load quantities. Lastly, we have subject matter experts via our Expert ENGINE service that can perform onsite audits to assess a prospective supplier’s operations. Our experts can perform audits independently or alongside your team.
ENGINE’s Accelerated Intelligence Service enables supply chain and procurement professionals to concentrate on what they do best – not hunting for information and knowledge but applying it.
Our Accelerated Intelligence Service integrates human insight and authoritative content with technology to deliver cost-effective supply chain management support. Our team of analysts access thousands of authoritative content sources to address your critical business decisions. Our analysts leverage continuously improving sources that integrate text analytics, AI, and other technologies. We have a scalable model that affordably accesses a comprehensive set of critical sources based on your needs. Contact us today to accelerate the improvement of your supply chain!