No company - big or small - is fully insulated from risk with the supply chain, and the novel coronavirus pandemic has made that fact obvious to just about everyone in the business world. While you are not untouchable on this front, you can certainly do more to insulate yourself from the risk of supply chain disruptions of any size.
The following tips should help you prepare to weather the storm in short order:
1) Make as much as your data real-time as possible
The more you can do to make sure you have an understanding of where all your shipments are in the real world at any given time, the better off you will be when it comes to being able to dodge the obstacles that occasionally arise even in the best of times, according to Fast Company. This may require working with shippers, supply chain partners and more to fully achieve.
2) Always be preparing
While real-time data is important, it's not just the present you should be worried about, Fast Company said. Any strategies you have for stocking and shipping should be made months in advance so that you can react to potential changes - even previously unforeseeable ones - with plenty of time to reconsider your moves.
In much the same way it's important to get real-time data, it's also critical to make sure you get it from as many sources as possible, according to Thomas. The difference between being able to get more insight into the operations of 25% of your supply chain partners and even 50% of them can be a huge boon for your long-term planning efforts.
4) Have a contingency plan in place
It's one thing to have a long-term plan for how you manage your inventory in place, but it's quite another to be able to react whenever a hiccup arises that's outside your control, Thomas noted. Being able to quickly pivot from your Plan A to that all-important Plan B or even C as needed, to keep your operations running as smoothly as possible, is critical.
5) Review your overall supply chain
Over the years, you have likely generated reams of data about all your supply chain partners; that could tell you a lot about where you stand right now and in the future, according to Industry Star. If you can identify past instances where you have found significant success, and those where you have struggled, you may identify patterns that allow you to be more responsive going forward.
6) Find more suppliers
While you may have plenty of preferred partners cultivated over the years, no one bats 1.000, Industry Star added. For those reasons, it might be wise to have a roster of backup suppliers that can be tapped as needed.
7) Stockpile some key inventory
If you find over time that some aspects of your inventory may be particularly vulnerable to supply chain fluctuations, it can be wise to stock up and have some reserve on hand, Industry Star further advised. That way, you'll always have something to fall back on, no matter what happens.