Supply Chain Resilience have so many moving parts that rapidly becomes a priority issue. Grit of any sort in the machine can cause one cog to seize up and thence stop the whole mechanism.
Additional complicating factors include the necessary balances between different parts of the chain and the extension of supply chains to include many different external partners.
However, as supply chains are the way many enterprises differentiate themselves from competitors, managers will have to take the bull by the horns and ensure supply chain resilience. But what kind of resilience?
There are different definitions of what resilience in supply chains concerns. One point of view is that a supply chain will break at some time and that building in resilience is about minimising the damage through:
- Resistance. The impact of a disruption is either avoided or contained. For example, you organise different modes of transport to avoid being blocked by a rail strike (avoiding a general problem) or you reroute all your truck deliveries to contain the impact of major roadworks (containing a specific problem).
- Recovery. You repair a breakdown or fix a problem, stabilise your supply chain and return to normal or at least steady performance, as soon as possible. For example, having decided to use just one supplier for a certain good or service, if the supplier stops supplying, you scramble to find and bring on board an alternative supplier.
Another definition however, cited by the World Economic Forum, puts the cursor further over towards the positive. In this case, supply chain resilience can be taken to mean “being better positioned than competitors to deal with – and even gain advantage from – disruptions.”
It’s a point of view that is echoed by consultancy firm Deloitte. The company offers the concept of the risk intelligent enterprise and its supply chain, focusing “not solely on risk avoidance, but also on risk-taking as a means to value creation”.
Perhaps the state of your own supply chain will determine whether you take such a “glass half full” or “glass half empty” point of view of its resilience.