COVID-19: Supply chain and operations

Your supply chain and operational challenges during COVID-19 

The current crisis is touching every area of your business, with supply chains and operations heavily impacted. How do you ensure business continuity while enforcing safety measures like social distancing and other precautions? For factories that have shut down, how do you resume as quickly, seamlessly and safely as possible? 

What are the risks of suboptimal supply chain and operations management in a crisis?

If you lack full visibility across your supply chain, you’ll be unable to realise the full impact of the crisis and act accordingly. Resuming operations at a slower rate than your competitors, for example, can cause you to miss out on orders - and therefore on revenue - because another company beat you to the mark. Conversely, if you start up with insufficient orders, you’ll be operating at a loss. How do you determine the sweet spot? 

Your supply chain and operational challenges during COVID-19

What you should do to optimise your supply chain through the crisis and beyond

1 Build your control tower

Business continuity throughout the crisis and beyond starts with full visibility across your supply chain. If you haven’t already, put a ‘control tower’ - a central hub dedicated to data-based decision making - and a crisis team in place, enabling you to have a clear view on your critical resources such as suppliers and your people.

2 Create a ‘playbook’

Develop and implement a concrete, actionable strategy for resuming operations, including safety measures (like social distancing) and clear communications with your people. While navigating the crisis in the short term, plan for the long term to boost your resilience.

3 Use technology

Increase efficiency and cut costs through technologies like automation, remote assistance apps, drones and wearables. Identify and implement those best suited to your specific business needs, to help future-proof your organisation.

4 Go multichannel

Increase your resilience now and post-COVID-19 by stepping into the multichannel world. We see that companies that can switch channels (e-platform, B2B, etc.) have a better chance at not only surviving, but doing well during a time of crisis and beyond.

5 Shorten your value chain and build in resilience

We’re moving towards a world where value chains will become shorter - closer to the consumer, with better circularity. Identify ways to shorten yours, while being aware of what’s happening in your industry's value chain overall. Next to this, identify your critical resources, clients and materials and build in some extra security in the form of inventory, dual sourcing and collaborative forecasting techniques.

Have questions about taking your supply chain and operations into the new reality?

Have questions about taking your supply chain and operations into the new reality?

We’re here to help you navigate these unusual circumstances. The measures described above are intended as guidelines to help your organisation through the COVID-19 crisis, but also for you - and society as a whole - to come out stronger and more resilient, as we all adapt to the ‘new normal’ into which we’ll emerge.

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Jochen Vincke

Jochen Vincke

Partner, PwC Belgium