Understanding the supply chain to build resiliency and manage risk

Marzena Reszka, Lecturer, Staffordshire Business School

Marzena Reska

Fast forward to the coronavirus crisis, whose humanitarian and human-livelihood costs are still rising, even as it also reveals supply-chain vulnerabilities that many small and medium businesses didn’t realize they had. As a result, building flexibility and resilience in operations has gone from one priority among many to business-critical. In this context, organisations need a new approach to manage supply-chain risk and build resiliency.

In the short term, the concern has focused on the shortages of critical goods or services.  In the long term many anticipate a renewed focus on better quantifying risks, with a mindset similar to buying insurance—by using probabilistic approaches, such as discrete-event simulation, and by redesigning business cases to include potential losses from a lack of resiliency measures. These responses represent a shift in business strategy, with companies showing more willingness to weigh the benefits of investments to navigate future risks against the potential fallout from failing to do so.

The current situations shows that there is need to a much deeper view of the supply-chain vulnerability and exposure to create effective mitigation and business-continuity plans.

Thus, there is a need to work more closely with suppliers to build more transparency through collaboration. However, collaboration is often viewed as a fraught territory, with supplier networks viewed as proprietary, and to create a more cooperative working environment can involve or require a deep change of mind-set. There is no need to disclose every detail to their suppliers, but to effectively perform network planning consider:

  • transparency of inventory levels,
  • capacity,
  • and flexibility

these can give a lens into potential bottleneck issues. The research suggests organisations should begin to tackle issues in a structured way, cataloguing and addressing known risks while improving the organisation’s resilience for the inevitable unknown risks that can become a problem in the future.

Supply-chain resilience requires a risk-aware culture to help an organisation establish and maintain strong defensive layers against unknown risks, as well as respond more quickly in the event of a severe crisis or operational threat. As COVID19 brought to light vulnerabilities in companies supply chains, building resiliency is not only a matter of awareness, but of setting an intent across the organisation, clearly communicating to the entire workforce, and taking tangible action to address the immediate and long-term risks.

Risk mitigation often has an associated incremental cost, and so it is important to align on which risks need to be mitigated and which can be borne by the organisation.

  Supply chain and risk are just some of the topics we are covering on a free course – the Small business Leadership Programme – sign up now.

The Small Business Leadership Programme is provided by Staffordshire Business School and is fully funded (free). Participants will develop strategic leadership skills and the confidence to boost business performance.

The course lasts ten weeks and the next two cohort start dates are

West Midlands 12th January  3.00-4.30pm

North West 13th January  3.00-4.30 pm

Register here https://smallbusinesscharter.org/sblp-registration

For more details see the website https://smallbusinesscharter.org/small-business-leadership-programme/

Contact Kat Mitchell if you would like a chat Kathryn.Mitchell@staffs.ac.uk


Sources:

‘’Supplying resilience through assessing diversity of responses to disruption’’, (2019), H.Kahiluoto, H. Makinen. (2019). https://www.emerald.com/insight/0144-3577.htm

‘’Supply chain resilience: the whole is not the sum of the parts’’, (2019),  M. Martins se Sa; P. Laczynska de Souza Miguel . www.emeraldinsight.com/0144-3577.htm

‘’Resetting Supply Chains for the next normal’’   2020  
A. Knut; R. Gupta; V. Trautwein                                                    

  ‘’Risk, Resilience, and rebalancing in global value chains’’, (2020), S. Lund; J. Manyika; J. Wotzel, E. Barribal; B. Krishnan; A. Knut; M.

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