Supply Chain Resilience and Other Great Unknowns

Outer space, the deepest parts of the oceans, the human brain – and perhaps supply chain resilience? A list of great unknowns still yet to be fathomed might include all of these things. Supply chain business continuity features in it because supply chains are fast becoming a (or even the) key competitive differentiator for enterprises – and yet those enterprises have surprisingly little information about whether or not their supply chain will still be functioning tomorrow. The fact that many companies now function with supply chains that have been made very lean and rigid exposes them even more to disruption.

Recent survey information from consultancy company PwC (PricewaterhouseCoopers) indicates that many, even most businesses do not periodically check their supply chain for resilience. It suggests that 75% suffer one or more important disruptions per year; and that 90% cannot say whether their key suppliers have business continuity plans. And yet the motivator to address the question of supply chain resilience is also clear, according to PwC. Companies that pay attention to this have stock that performs 7% better, because their resilient supply chains let them exploit opportunity and adversity faster, and wrest market share from the competition.

What’s the solution? Understanding business continuity and applying best practices for your own supply chain is one half. The other half is to know how to audit business continuity and to insist that suppliers share BC information. You can then evaluate their capability to continue coming up with the goods in choppy conditions. Honing the skills of your internal auditors by checking out your own preparations means they’ll be ready to apply that expertise to strategic business partners as well. Supply chain resilience doesn’t have to be, nor should it be an unknown quantity, either in-house, upstream or downstream.