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The COVID-19 pandemic challenged how businesses should operate. Employees were forced into their homes to reduce the spread of the virus, companies had to find new and ways to allow their employees to continue working or risk going out of business. One of the biggest challenges came as people were forced to order more products for delivering, making the already stressful situation even harder on key links in the supply chain. As we move out of COVID-19, we must be sure not to forget the lessons we learned.

Understanding How COVID-19 Impacted Supply Chains

To learn from the mistakes of the past, analyze what went wrong. COVID-19 was a perfect storm hitting supply chains. There has been plenty of analysis done on how the pandemic affected the transportation of goods, but largely it boils down to supply and demand. Producing goods, and shipping them, both require workers in close contact with one another. The pandemic made that impossible and reduced labor. At the same time, more people were ordering goods for delivery, and those who went out were stockpiling non-perishable items at higher rates than before.

Evolving Supply Chains to Better Handle Disruptions

The pandemic, taught us lessons the hard way: adaptations that were made to readjust to the temporary new reality. Other lessons come from the failures that led to that reality: steps that can be taken to mitigate the effects so things aren’t as bad should another worldwide emergency hit the globe.

1. Centralize Your Supply Operations

Ensuring maximum supply chain agility means ensuring maximum supply chain transparency. Before COVID-19 hit, the supply chain at many businesses was fragmented. It required repeated reviews and approvals from several people, each who may or may not have had access to the data that the others were using. Using a centralized supply chain management tool like StockIQ is vital to providing the type of supply chain visibility and flexibility required to make quick decisions in rapidly changing circumstances.

2. Make Better Demand Forecasts

Inventory-based businesses often struggle with keeping the right amount of stock on hand even in the best of times. This leads to space being taken up by some products in warehouses that could be put to better use, and other products being unavailable to fulfill consumer demand. Understanding these fluctuations requires accurate stock levels forecasting. While these features can’t predict the unforeseeable, they can help ensure you aren’t starting from a disadvantage when it does, and help you manage your stock levels efficiently as the situation unfolds.

3. Put Risk Management Front and Center

Risk management is all about looking at trends that are happening and predicting how negative factors will play out before they become a big problem. While no risk management solution is a crystal ball, having one in place will allow you to plan for unforeseen events before they happen so you’ll have an action plan in place ready to follow when they do. Risk management will also give you a heads-up when warning signs begin to show, so you can begin putting your plan in place early.

4. Implement Tabletop Exercises

Schools don’t wait until a fire hits to teach children how to safely exit the building. Nor do they rely on verbal instruction alone. Fire drills are an important part of every schoolchild’s life. Tabletop exercises, are what FEMA calls the steps a business takes to practice putting their own emergency action plans into place. While they are often much more involved than fire drills, the concept is the same: to keep your staff on their toes and prepared for when the unthinkable happens. They make an effective addition to any risk-management strategy.

Read the rest of the blog written by Jake Latham, CEO of StockIQ Technologies to learn the remaining four (4) ways to ensure your supply chain and forecasting programs are protected.

5. Switch Focus from Cost Savings to Revenue Assurance

6. Regionalize Your Supply Chain

7. Diversify Supply Chains

8. Communicate More Closely with Suppliers

Building a More Efficient Supply Chain with StockIQ

While we all hope that COVID-19 and its unprecedented impact on our lives was a once in a lifetime occurrence, we can’t count on that. Nor can we continue to operate our businesses in a way that will disadvantage its future generations of leaders. The pandemic has made it clear that it’s time to change the way we approach supply chain management. These are precisely the types of issues that StockIQ was designed to help you deal with. Contact us to learn more.

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