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Embrace change with supply chain resilience

  • Posted on July 8, 2020
  • Estimated reading time 3 minutes

The start to 2020 has left many organizations in distress. Production and labor shortages along with delivery and sourcing constraints brought most global manufacturing facilities and processes to a standstill, while inventory quickly depleted. Physical stores and offices closed to foot traffic, accelerating online purchasing for some product categories. Demand for big purchases and luxury items came to a halt, while the need for others like healthcare supplies and groceries dramatically increased. 

With the world and consumer behaviors changing significantly in days and weeks instead of months and years, COVID-19 has exposed the limitations of existing supply chains. Ongoing challenges like poor production scheduling, lack of agility, and mounting technical debt have been exacerbated by dramatic global change, leaving many organizations scrambling. In the meantime, adaptive businesses are using predictive and intelligent technologies to seize this opportunity and drive market share.

To embrace the new normal of change, organizations must rethink their supply chain.

Rising to the occasion  
While some faltered, other organizations responded swiftly to new market needs: perfumeries and breweries quickly redirected product lines to produce hand sanitizer, while B2B brands are finding new ways to get their products in the hands of end customers. The organizations who are forging through the change to create impact and produce critical materials have some traits in common: they understood the need to quickly rethink their operations, were agile to changing circumstances, and already digitally connected to their assets – as well as each other. They were in a position to diversify supply chains, rethink their distribution models and pivot their operations quickly to get to market faster and meet market needs.

Create supply chain resilience at speed
How can organizations ensure their supply chain is resilient enough to help them respond today, but also reset for the coming months and renew their charter to lead in the future? Most supply chains are optimized for efficiency and low cost - not agility. But now, manufacturers must maximize both. The path to resilience is not linear, but by partnering with clients worldwide across industries, we believe these three areas of focus will help organizations navigate change.

1) Use agility to constantly enhance your existing supply chain operations
Organizations should be able to pivot quickly on every front if they’re to stay on top of their operations. To act fast, don’t start from the ground-up. Identify the most critical digital supply chain management capabilities that will augment existing technologies and processes. Intelligent technologies can help you identify inefficiencies in the supply chain, enabling you to focus on improving specific areas within procurement, tracking, delivery, receipt issuance, and payment. Make iterative adjustments as circumstances change, so that you are staying ahead instead of falling behind – all while being as efficient as possible.

2) Enable tighter upstream and downstream collaboration across complex value chains
With product lifecycles continuing to compress, innovation and speed are critical to success in today’s manufacturing marketplace. Accenture research shows that 47% of consumers expect brands to translate their values and promises into new and innovative products and services. Some organizations are adaptive enough to shift fast; for instance, a consortium of major industrial, technology and engineering businesses from across the aerospace, automotive and medical sectors came together to drive rapid production of medical ventilators. Collaborating faster and smarter across the value chain requires a shift to digital processes, with data and analytics driving action where the most value can be achieved. Intelligent insights can support real-time decision-making – enabling a much more flexible supply chain.

3) Adopt new commerce channels by evolving your operations
Regardless of social distancing regulations and guidelines, responsive organizations can continue serving customers by enabling contact-free commerce through delivery and buy-online-pickup at-store service. For some, that means standing up a rapid digital commerce solution with essential back-end functionality to allocate and fulfill orders, and a front-end experience that customers can use to order and follow progress. Brands with an existing ecommerce channel should move fast to adjust it for the contactless experience, ensuring store employees can quickly and accurately pick from the store inventory, prepare customer orders and stage them for transfer. Consumer goods and other product companies may even be able to use this channel to innovate and side-step hurdles in the supply chain, selling directly to consumers or through new kinds of retail partnerships.  

No time to wait
The actions organizations take now will not only help them to respond to the current situation, but also prepare them for an uncertain future, giving them the ability to adapt to disruption in ways they weren’t previously able. A focus on embracing and adopting digital technologies and applications will enable companies to accelerate their response to these challenges in an agile manner, providing rapid results and return on their investment.

To learn more about building supply chain resilience, access our free webinar.

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