How to Strengthen Your Supply Chain During the Ultimate Disruption

Here are three approaches to fortifying your supply chain in an era of escalating disruption.

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Editor's note: Mark Dohnalek is President & CEO of Pivot International, the Kansas-based global product development, engineering & manufacturing firm.

With only a very blurry end in sight on the COVID-19 crisis, it's hard to figure out how supply chains can stay strong, fortified, and invigorated—but they can. As companies scramble to adapt, companies are needing to identify and invest in short-term tactical solutions and long-term strategies. From adopting new tools and mindsets for analyzing, mapping, managing, and monitoring risk, supply chains will have the chance to continue moving forward while being better prepared for the next major disruption. Here are three approaches to fortifying your supply chain in an era of escalating disruption.

Develop a Disruption Mindset. What we have all experienced during this COVID-19 crisis is how important it is to think outside of the box, be agile and adaptive amid heightened complexity and chaos – which is happening right now. A disruption mindset operates on the assumption that certainty is relative, change is inevitable, and that all planning efforts are necessarily provisional and subject to rapid revision based on new data. Companies with processes include identifying and questioning core assumptions, encouraging competing views to assure a diversity of ideas, and time-stamping incoming information to facilitate dynamic analysis and up-to-date planning.

Continuous Evaluation. Never before has the need for a commitment of continuous evaluation in order to ensure supply chain health been so clear. During COVID-19, we have seen first-hand how sourcing challenges mount with the changing environment and therefore the need to stay attentive and mindful of changing events. Companies have learned in real-time that relying on a single geographical sourcing location can be at best risky and at worst catastrophic. Don't let your company continue to struggle with sourcing challenges. Move quickly to identify risky environments and/or geographical locations to reconfigure your supply chain for operations, in order to get back on track and mitigate damage.

Prioritize and Invest in Digitization. Adoption and deployment of innovative digital technologies must be achieved. Digitization investments to enable your company toward greater agility and scalability in supply chain logistics and overall business operations is imperative in the current and future landscape. These technologies include but are not limited to AI, SMT, and blockchain platforms, and each is critical for helping companies rapidly adapt in the face of disruption. That is because digitization is key to reach supply chain transparency, which is critical. Transparency is important for both the level of visibility a company has into its direct and indirect suppliers as well as to help stakeholders when conducting both strategic and contingency planning. Ultimately, network-transparency through digitization makes it possible for key stakeholders to effectively identify, analyze, map, manage, and monitor risk to successfully respond to emerging threats and capitalize on market opportunities.

In an era of escalating disruption, supply-chain leaders need to pivot quickly to successfully compete in a rapidly changing global market. Global-order disruption requires a global-order solution. Build your supply chain with partners who can help defend your business from disruption stemming from geopolitical turmoil, climatic events, viral outbreaks, unexpected regulatory changes, component or labor shortages, or simply unforeseen spikes in demand. Now is the time to embrace new solutions to proactively resolve supply chain issues with ongoing insight to continually optimize logistics for maximum efficiency, performance, and profit.

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