The pandemic's effect on global supply chains certainly made it clear to millions of businesses around the world that they were more vulnerable than they probably thought to many types of disruptions. The novel coronavirus halted or slowed supply chains from China to Charleston, South Carolina, and everywhere in between, and many within the industry realized that there was a greater need for supply chain resiliency than they initially suspected.

Now, the vast majority of companies in the supply chain are prioritizing the effort to build more resilience into their existing processes so that if any catastrophe — large or small — befalls them going forward, they can respond appropriately, according to a recent industry survey from Gartner. Indeed, 87% of respondents said they now plan to make investments to beef up resiliency within the next two years.

Perhaps not surprisingly, the funds needed for those investments are going to come out of existing supply chain budgets, but interestingly, fewer than 1 in 3 are trying to build up a stronger regional supply chain, the report said. Meanwhile, 45% of those polled said they believe it's still more important to customers that they provide lower prices instead of paying a premium for items sourced or manufactured within the U.S.

Strategizing for supply chain disruptions and resiliency is part of the job.Strategizing for supply chain disruptions and resiliency is part of the job.

"Supply chain executives overwhelmingly recognize the necessity to make their networks more resilient and agile," Geraint John, vice president and analyst with the Gartner Supply Chain practice. "At the same time, 60% admit that their supply chains have not been designed for resilience, but cost-efficiency. The challenge will be to create an operating model for supply chains that combines the best of both worlds and also delivers supreme customer service."

What it takes to get there
Building up to supply chain resiliency isn't always easy, however, in large part because chains are only as strong as their weakest links. New analysis from The Association for Supply Chain Management shows that only slightly more than half of companies examined use their own internal data when it comes to understanding their operations, and fewer than 2 in 5 say they have a hard time because their data is either siloed off departmentally within their own organizations, or they just don't track enough in the first place.

Fewer than 3 in 5 also said they have continuity plans in place for what to do in the event of a supply chain disruption, which the ASCM called "shockingly high."

The reality of the situation
For companies that are dragging their feet or don't feel they have the institutional bandwidth to make these improvements, reality is likely to be rather harsh, according to Supply Chain Digital. While something on the scale of the pandemic probably won't happen again any time soon, hiccups of all other sizes are still going to be the norm. If companies don't have a solid strategy for dealing with them, they may be caught in a tough situation.

As such, companies must be proactive about planning for any eventuality and put themselves in a position to succeed on an ongoing basis. Proper planning and investment will serve them well in this way.

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