If your company is like many, many others in the logistics industry, its supply chain has been disrupted by the novel coronavirus pandemic. While some have been able to navigate these issues and mostly get back to business as usual in recent months, others still find it difficult to rebuild their procurement strategies. With partners shutting down or facing shortages of the materials they need, it's vital that any business in the supply chain be able to pivot under COVID, and find a new strategy that works for their short- and long-term goals.

First things first, as with anything else in business, it's vital to sit down and map out how the pandemic has affected you to date, and what options you may have to overcome that impact, according to 4C Associates, writing for Supply Chain Digital. When everyone in your organization knows what the problem is, and have a menu of potential solutions to choose from, everyone is on the same page and it becomes easier to find a comprehensive strategy that cuts the best possible path forward.

Simply put, the more you can do to codify and outline your procurement strategy — as well as other aspects of how you plan to operate in the supply chain as long as COVID issues persist — the better off you will be when it comes to pivoting to new options, the report said. When you have a predetermined plan for how you will respond to changing conditions, there's no ambiguity to create delays or entanglements.

Effective procurement planning starts at the team level.Effective procurement planning starts at the team level.

Getting every partner involved
Of course, your company may plan and plan to come up with different solutions for every scenario you can think of, but that might not matter much if one of your supply chain partners encounters its own issues and does not respond properly, according to DevEx. Transparency for as many aspects of your supply chain as possible is critical to understanding what issues your procurement department actually faces, and that takes work with potentially dozens of different companies to forge more effective data-sharing partnerships.

Put another way, your partners' problems become your problems downstream, so you need to do everything you can to encourage and empower them to have their own contingency plans, the report said. If you haven't yet laid this groundwork, you're leaving yourself vulnerable to the vagaries of a very tricky situation.

Optimizing the strategy
Finally, you have to recognize that if you do need to pivot to a contingency plan, you are unlikely to find a solution that allows you to keep operating in exactly the same way you did before the complication arose. According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, noting the need for these plans as it specifically relates to personal protective equipment, you need to have plans for three levels of operation: conventional, contingency and crisis.

The latter is important because, sometimes, all the planning in the world can't help you avoid procurement issues, but it's vital that you know what your operations look like even in a worst-case scenario, the CDC said.

The more strategizing you do now, to account for every possible outcome, the better off you will be in the long run.

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