Necessity is the Mother of Innovation

Challenging Times Drive New Thinking and New Opportunities in Supply Chain Planning

The COVID-19 pandemic has created unprecedented challenges around the world. In the midst of the seeming chaos many brilliant minds have been working in overdrive to develop innovative solutions to many of obstacles that lie in our way.

Abbot recently announced a new method for fast, accurate, point-of-care testing devices to deliver results in minutes instead of days. Intertape Polymer Group is thinking outside the box and working with Stanfield’s Ltd to produce PPE garments for medical teams on the frontline battle against COVID-19. The Coca-Cola Company and Georgia Institute of Technology are working together to turn plastic sheeting into more than 50,000 plastic surgical shields. These are just a few of the countless and amazing innovations we hear about on a daily basis.

The inspired, short-term efforts of companies like these will help flatten the curve and save lives now. But that’s not the whole story. In a much broader context, the byproduct of this work will be lasting innovation that informs design, production and distribution excellence for years.

At Logility, we encourage you to balance short-term action with long-term planning. Do what you have to today with an eye on tomorrow. That requires focus. We’re going to make it easy by recommending one short-term and one long-term action you can initiate today. Let’s focus on supply.

Cover the Supply Gap Today

Paraphrasing Supply Chain Insights founder Lora Cecere in Forbes, begin by building a war room and mapping your current supply network. It’s likely you’ve already been hit by shortcomings in your supply chain, so take the time to identify remaining risk. Go deep, as in physically map the locations of your second and third-tier suppliers. (Cecere claims that only 1/3 of companies know the locations of their second and third-tier suppliers.) Expect bad surprises.

At the same time, start a frank discussion about which metrics matter right now. Perhaps purchase price variance and budget adherence should take a back seat to customer service.

Build Supply Reliability for Tomorrow

Long-term supply chain strength relies on several factors, including trust and collaboration. In addition, it relies on built-in resilience and quick decision-making, because disruptions will always be with us.

Study other supply chains and ask probing questions. For example, why is the U.S. food supply chain proving to be so robust (so far) relative to the medical device supply chain? There are multiple reasons, but the U.S. food supply network is mostly domestic. Farms and forks are in close proximity. Also, it’s organized around a relatively smaller number of wholesalers, improving the network’s ability to sense demand at critical nodes and react quickly.

Don’t panic. Panicky supply chains are dysfunctional supply chains. Witness the 50 U.S. state governments competing right now with the U.S. federal government to snap up the same limited supply of N95 masks and the near-term production capacity for more masks.

If your organization doesn’t have an advanced supply chain planning and optimization platform to support these efforts, you are risking a slow recovery from this disruption and unnecessary suffering during the next one. Only platforms like that offered by Logility provide the capabilities to plan for the unexpected through powerful artificial-intelligence enabled, purpose-built capabilities that can simulate the effects of disruptions on an end-to-end supply chain, highlight ways to mitigate these effects, and develop action plans that can be quickly deployed.

Finally, use these exceptional times to do something exceptional. Ponder some big goals and blow the dust off a dream. Lacking inspiration? Consider this. To evade a pandemic then raging across Europe, students at Cambridge University were told to leave campus. Sound familiar? One student hunkered down at Woolsthorpe Manor in Lincolnshire and as it turned out made good use of his time. Drum roll…

During an outbreak of the plague in 1666, Isaac Newton, working from home, invented a little thing called calculus.

Karin Bursa

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Karin Bursa

Short bio

Karin is a former Logility employee and blog contributor. Supply Chain Brief

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