The coronavirus pandemic has damaged many supply chains and, in some cases, even caused them to collapse altogether. Fewer incoming orders and delivery bottlenecks are forcing companies to critically review their supply chain management processes in order to remedy previously latent, but now openly apparent deficiencies. To optimize supply chains, increased cooperation, better analyses, greater transparency and, above all, end-to-end digitalization are essential.
1. Turn affected people into stakeholders
Especially in the current crisis, it is important that all departments relevant to supply chain management cooperate closely. The prerequisite is a common platform so that the departments are not obliged to utilize different systems to display individual components of the supply chain.
If no common platform has been used to date, now is the right time. Integrating such a solution prevents media breaks, which inevitably would lead to delays, inconsistencies, and higher costs.
Strategic suppliers are also affected by the crisis and should be included in your own crisis management plan. Support, for example in terms of transparency about the current economic situation in the company, mutual assistance with processes and more frequent demand forecasts are important if these important relationships are to be maintained after the crisis.
2. Perform intelligent analyses
The exceptional circumstances of the current situation require us to focus on the essentials. Due to compromised supply chains as well as increased cancellations, it is important for supply chain managers to react fast and swiftly. Supplier controlling, portfolio analyses, capacity summaries and the proper management of safety stocks might be important, but time-consuming. For quick decision support, software that deploys intelligent algorithms is therefore ideal. Within seconds, it gathers all relevant data, calculates the economically most sensible scenario from the countless possibilities and formulates daily updated recommendations for action.
In times of crisis, circumstances change particularly quickly. Intelligent algorithms can quickly capture and analyse the data volumes generated in supply chains and logistics processes to perform recalculations for planning purposes. In this way, they greatly enhance the ability of supply chain managers to act.
3. Utilize simulations
During times of crisis there is a lot of speculation about the future, because valid predictions are hardly feasible. Companies must, therefore, prepare themselves for a wide range of plausible scenarios and use these as a basis for supply chain planning. In this way, it is possible to map out different demand situations, assess their implications and derive the necessary actions to be taken. The quality of these simulations is crucial for a company’s success.
4. Push digitalization and automation
The economic crisis makes it necessary to accelerate digitization processes, especially in the area of supply chain management. The automation of routine activities, for example in disposition, in storage facilities, during inventory or in production, creates space for strategic considerations as well as activities that advance digitized supply chain management. This will ideally result in a competitive advantage for the company.
Post-coronavirus supply chain optimization
We should not forget to prepare for the time after the crisis. We can leverage the current situation to: optimize processes in supply chain management and the entire company; save costs and keep delivery capability as high as possible. Due to the high complexity of these requirements, there is no way around support by an intelligent planning system.
Above all, such a planning system must provide intelligent forecasts for optimal stock levels for the period after the crisis. Typically, the planning of future sales and also the subsequent production and procurement strategy is based on past data. However, it is likely that sales data from 2020 will not provide a solid basis for calculations for 2021, due to the exceptional circumstances of this crisis. Planning systems must therefore be able to calculate sales forecasts based on reliable values.
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