Have you ever heard the old saying, "when everything is said and done, there is more said than done?"
How about “everyone talks about the weather, but no one does anything about it?”
The common theme through the above examples of observational wisdom is the suggestion that talking about something is not the same as doing something about it.
Based on experience, I would not be off base in suggesting that this same theme applies to the subject of supply chain resiliency. In other words, in the world of procurement and strategic sourcing, the importance of resilient supply chains has been a point of discussion for some time.
However, what the COVID-19 pandemic and today’s increasing geopolitical instability have taught us is that our fruitful discussions in the past did not necessarily translate into meaningful actions and outcomes today.
Didn’t See It Coming?
When considering the significant disruptions in our global supply chains over the past two years – the most recent involving baby formula, we must ask ourselves how we got here. Didn’t we see it coming?
Let's face it, before COVID-19, how many of us would have predicted that our supply chains would, in some cases, snap like a rubber band stretched beyond its level of tolerance. Sure, we knew there were potential vulnerabilities in our supply and demand networks, but who expected such far-reaching, universal failures? By the state of things today, very few saw what was coming, and even fewer believed that we weren't ready for it.
Why were we so confident?
The problem wasn’t a lack of awareness regarding the importance of having resiliency and agility in our supply chains. We knew it was important. The issue was in our approach, or better yet, our interpretation.
For the longest time, supply chain professionals have taken an engineer’s view of resilience. Specifically, we viewed our supply chains as a “closed system” that we could design and control in much the same way engineer designs and controls a subway network.
If there is a breakdown in a subway system, you know when and where it happens and what you need to do to fix it. The variables of what can go wrong to disrupt the subway network are somewhat limited.
The only problem with an engineer's approach to supply chain resilience is that our networks are not closed. If anything, they are wide open to a range of variables in which we can't anticipate or predict when something will happen and where, in the chain, it will occur. The past two years are proof of that.
Of course, even redesigning our supply chains to create redundancies, such as establishing alternative sources, may be little more than a stop-gap solution.
Utilizing an Assess, Measure, and Implement framework, we need to create non-rigid supply chain ecosystems that enable us to respond to changes in real-time.
In conjunction with Coupa, the Sourcing Industry Group (SIG) conducted a seminal survey to gain critical insight into the unprecedented events impacting our supply chains.
After analyzing the responses, we are excited to provide you with our latest collaborative white paper that will allow you to turn meaningful discussion regarding resilience into actionable knowledge. Based on this new knowledge, you will be able to reengineer resilience and agility into your supply chain.
Mary Zampino is the Vice President – Content, Research & Analytics at SIG and has over 20 years of experience in information technology and over 15 years of experience in sourcing. Prior to joining SIG, Mary worked at Enporion, where she was responsible for the analysis, configuration, execution and award evaluation for over one thousand sourcing events, across a diverse range of direct and indirect categories. Mary is committed to customer service and considers information sharing and usability the top priorities for any project or organization. Mary holds a Bachelor's Degree in Information Science from the Florida State University and has completed certifications in Health Information Technology and Requirements Gathering.