We are all still learning from the widespread effects of the coronavirus pandemic, but six months in there are some important takeaways for supply chain professionals that can help them build a more resilient channel for the future, according to George Zsidisin, John W. Beringer III Professor of Supply Chain Risk and Resilience at the University of Missouri-St. Louis.
Zsidisin talked about supply chain resilience and lessons learned from the pandemic in an afternoon educational session during the Council of Supply Chain Management Professionals’ (CSCMP) EDGE 2020 Conference Tuesday. An overarching lesson of the pandemic is the vital importance of the supply chain to society and the “absolute criticality of supply chain management today,” Zsidisin said. As for lessons companies and supply chain professionals should heed, Zsidisin offered the following:
Be flexible and adaptable. By far, the most important takeaway from the pandemic is the need for companies to build flexibility into their organizations that can help them react and adjust to short-term supply chain disruptions. For the longer-term, companies should focus on adapting to any permanent changes that result from those disruptions.
Conquer the last mile. Zsidisin said many companies were able to be flexible in their response to the pandemic and as a result are better managing accelerated trends, including demand for last-mile delivery. The Covid-19 pandemic has accelerated e-commerce trends, speeding demand for last-mile right along with it, and Zsidisin said many companies are managing to get better and better at last-mile every day.
Continuity planning is a must. The pandemic exposed many weaknesses, including a lack of attention to risk management and business continuity planning. Moving forward, organizations must develop a sharper focus on this discipline.
Technology is vital. The pandemic has also shined a light on the importance of information systems and their ability to keep commerce moving and people connected remotely.
Zsidisin is continuing research into ways the ongoing pandemic is affecting the supply chain, in part through an upcoming book titled The Covid-19 Pandemic: Overcoming Unprecedented Supply Chain Challenges, which he says will describe how firms in a variety industries dealt with the crisis. The book is slated for release in late 2021.