The big day when ‘supply chain resilience’ makes everyone a winner
We’ve all seen the sporting event where the best team on the day gets beaten by a one-off piece of bad luck. Or been to that wedding which had a lead-up week bathed in beautiful sunshine, only for it burst into thunder and lightning on the Saturday. Likewise in your business you can have the most robust, well-planned, bullet-proof system in place to avoid internal errors within your own processes; but sometimes it is someone else in the supply chain who lets you down.
The term ‘supply chain’ refers to the array of individuals and businesses who are not directly related to your own organisation, but which are critical to its functionality. It could be suppliers of product, sub-contracted workers, outsourced services, logistics companies or your communications systems. These are the elements of your company’s product or service delivery which do not come under your own direct control.
But the reality is that you have more control than you think
‘Supply Chain Resilience’ refers to the strength and reliability of your supply chain. Not necessarily of the individual elements within it, but in relation to its ability to continue providing the end result that you need, when something goes wrong. There are two key elements to understanding how to make your supply chain as secure as possible.
The first is to recognise that the word ‘resilience’ has a very different meaning to the word ‘avoidance’. By that I mean that human error, technical malfunctions, unforeseen circumstances (internal and external), and simple poor performance are an inevitability. You simply cannot avoid the reality of bad luck happening from time to time. It is a simple fact of life. To be resilient, however, means to be able to cope with any situation. And to do this you need to be able to plan for as many eventualities as possible.
A resilient sports team will invariably be able to react to the ‘against the run of play’ misfortune I describer earlier. Whether through their unity and team spirit, a well-rehearsed Plan B, or a change of personnel, they can usually turn things around. Disappointments in sport do happen from time to time, but they are surprisingly few and far between – that is why we always refer to them as ‘upsets’ and ‘shocks’. And consistently the best team still wins over the course of a full season.
If you have a plan then you always have somewhere to go
The second key element to creating strong ‘Supply Chain Resilience’ is planning. Once you have accepted the inevitability of externally caused problems, from time to time, you can work out the best way to cope. You can create your Plan B and, if deemed necessary, Plans C, D and E. When it comes to dealing with your suppliers, you have to assume that they are just like you. When something goes wrong in their delivery, they will try to fix it before owning up to the error. That means that you might not know until it is too late to respond. Alternatively, your supplier might not even be aware of their error and it will be even longer until you are informed. So to be fully resilient you need to have effective alarms in place to give you as much warning as possible. Then you can initiate your rescue plan or response.
Whilst we all joke about the unreliability of the weather forecast the reality is that there is little excuse, in today’s world of instant news and information, for getting wet – ever. No one can guarantee a happy couple that they will have happy weather, but their wedding organisers should go out of their way to arrange an extra special alternative to the outdoor element of the day – just in case. It just takes foresight, planning and care.
If you would like some help in making sure your supply chain is robust, Resilience Guard consultancy can’t guarantee sunshine, but our consultants can promise to give you the best shot at a comeback.