Evaluate Risk Before Critical Decisions
Disruption across global supply chains has always been present, but the ongoing pandemic has magnified the risks supply chain leaders face, while simultaneously limiting response options in an already high-pressure environment.
The past year has opened the door to many risks—and response strategies—that supply chain leaders must now keep top of mind when making critical inventory, demand, logistics, and pricing decisions.
Stockpiling and Demand Volatility
A wave of organizations took up the practice of stockpiling over the past year to mitigate demand and offset transportation shortages and rising prices. However, this practice can often create more headaches than it alleviates. There are costs associated with stocking extra inventory, which may very well end up being passed on to the consumer.
In this scenario, supply chain leaders should look to a more active approach to demand management to help mitigate excess inventory and avoid passing added costs on to the consumer. Identify the demand signals that are critical to your business—whether raw point-of-sale data, social sentiment, or socioeconomic data—and then align on the actions you can take to actively shape demand to account for your increased inventory.
The challenges of the past year have also demonstrated how reliant organizations across industries are on a well-run ecosystem of suppliers, manufacturers, and logistics providers.
This ecosystem is often a global one, and while that can help with supply chain diversification, it can also lead to bottlenecks and disruptions—from tariffs and political negotiations that impact trade routes, unplanned weather events, or COVID flare-ups that can lead to factory or border closures, or temporary reduction of capacity.
Supply chain leaders can better prepare for unplanned disruptions by embedding more agility and visibility into their global ecosystem. Leveraging end-to-end supply chain management technology to share data across the supply chain in real time can help replan if downtime hits a supplier, or a factory is closed in a region. It is easier to change course on the fly, mitigate potential risk, and drive forward.
Freight and Logistics
While it may have worked in the past, making assumptions at the beginning of the year about freight capacity, driver and warehouse availability, or associated costs, is no longer an option. Instead, supply chain leaders are tasked with navigating increases in shipping volume and diesel prices, a capacity squeeze, and a driver shortage—and that doesn’t account for unplanned disruptions.
Strong forecasting capabilities can help supply chain leaders more accurately predict their freight needs, and when combined with real-time visibility, can help make trade-off decisions to expedite or change lanes. They can also use more accurate forecasting to make pricing and promotion decisions that shape prime shopping windows and alleviate a potential logistics crunch in the future.
Interaction Effects and Scenarios
Often, these risks are scored or assessed independently, but never frequently compounding at the same time. Traditional risk management approaches often do not assume interaction effects, which leaves businesses more exposed when their often linear, discrete assumptions interact and produce far higher, or lower, outcomes than anticipated.
To counter, a robust and configurable scenario management approach that hinges on identifying "potential" interactions and elevating them for CXOs to review can help business leaders understand potential interactions and prepare for destabilizing options.