When the Business Case for Business Continuity affects Supply Chain Operations

A business case for business continuity is not just about additional benefits that BC might bring to an organisation. In some cases, the need to ensure that an enterprise can “take a lickin’ and still keep on tickin’ “ means other advances in operational theory and practice need to be given up.  A case in point is the extension of supply lines internationally to make the most of advantages available offshore.  Saving money and increasing supply chain flexibility are always attractive, but how far can an organisation go in trying to optimise these aspects of its operations?

“Too far” appears to be the answer from UK companies participating in a survey organised by the EEF, the manufacturers’ organisation, (formerly the “Engineering Employers’ Federation”).  In a media release from August 12, 2012, the EEF sees as many as 40% of companies bringing manufacturing back in-house. In effect, the business case for business continuity is being defined in terms of the negative impact of not improving BC, rather than the positive effect of ramping it up anyway. Firms are too worried about recent natural catastrophes and economic changes to leave the supply chain so exposed.

Further information from the EEF indicates that 25% of companies were also “reshoring” by increasing the use of local suppliers, after having set up an offshore operation. Immediate comments are that not only should such UK companies benefit from increased visibility and control over critical parts of their production process, but the country’s economy should also get a boost from the repatriation of such high value activity. In this sense, the UK Government, in common with governments of other high income level countries, also has its own business case for business continuity, in pushing for its industries to pay more attention to BC and therefore work more with local supply chains.