Agility against volatility: Minimising supply chain disruption after COVID and Brexit

Posted on 1 May 2022 by The Manufacturer

From petrol and toys to chocolate and home furnishings - supply chain disruption has impacted everyone as Britain has struggled to deal with increased demand for online shopping following the pandemic. The lack of HGV drivers to meet this demand is one of the factors that has led to shortages all over the country for many months - with stock levels reaching their lowest point since 1983.

A report by the ONS, released earlier this month, endeavoured to dig deeper into the crisis, sharing insights into the impacts of COVID-19 and Brexit on UK business supply chains as a whole. The report revealed that nearly a third of firms across Britain’s manufacturing, wholesale and retail trade sectors have suffered supply chain problems due to Brexit and the pandemic – unsurprising given the woeful warnings of a turkey-less Christmas last year.

Few would disagree that something must be done to combat the changes in supply chain reliability, but what?

Getting back on track: Combatting disruption with digital transformation 

Many businesses have turned to the diversification of the supply chain – according to the same report by the ONS – in an attempt to combat recent and future uncertainty in the market. However, without a strategy to manage this shift to a diverse number of new suppliers in the day-to-day operation of their networks, businesses potentially face more confusion, instead of increased flexibility.

Getting on the right track following the last few months of crises requires purging any business practices that prevent quick response to volatility – such as addressing the use of clunky legacy systems, like Excel spreadsheets, filled with outdated data. Messy data has become a weed that some businesses have grown accustomed to, but by adopting a digital transformation strategy, they can turn those neglected weeds into a lush garden of opportunity.

Companies can then move onto stage two of their digital transformation and begin fine-tuning better data into actionable business insights. This can be done by aligning data on people, processes and technology all in the same place to create advanced predictive analysis.

This will give your business a digital Swiss army knife – the right tools at the right time – to cut through the uncertainty and react with synchronised agility that can quickly balance cost and variability in the face of real-time demand. Your organisation can even action course corrections within hours of any crisis.

The ability to pivot your approach with live data is an essential component to diversifying your supply chain so, if one supplier falls short, you can shift your approach quickly to remain ahead of the game.

Multi-enterprise collaboration: The dangers of the manual method

This shift to creating more strategic partnerships throughout the supply chain, following Brexit and COVID, has also increased the need for better ways to centralise multi-enterprise collaboration.

But what exactly is multi-enterprise collaboration? Well, it is the ability to offer sourcing and planning information to all stakeholders, both internally and externally – whether they be the different departments interacting with the supply chain or the suppliers making the purchasing decisions. This can help make sure that all stakeholders are fully in sync with one another on both strategy and operations.

Manual methods of data sharing and communication in multi-enterprise collaboration can cause havoc, leading to inaccurate or missing data. This happens when multiple companies are inundated with complex and disparate data sheets that can affect the ease of data consolidation.

Investment into a connected solution platform is one of the ways that companies can help get rid of the tedious labour required to get this data in order, meaning that companies can focus on the benefits – such as identifying hidden savings within their data.

With 16% of all UK firms hit by supply chain issues (26% when businesses with fewer than 10 employees are stripped out), the move to increasing agility with technology is now an essential next step to helping companies pivot quickly and strategically in the face of unknown and unexpected future crises.

About the author

Shankar Balakrishnan, Area Vice President of Northern Europe at Anaplan

Shankar HeadshotShankar is the MD for Northern Europe at Anaplan, with a track record of leading large teams in sales, services, account management and customer success. In his role, he advises various Fortune 500 corporations and fast growth scale-ups on their digital transformation efforts – helping companies turn change and uncertainty into their competitive advantage. Prior to Anaplan, Shankar’s career has seen him work for hyper-growth scale up Medallia, leading Northern Europe and the Middle East, as well as the Boston Consulting Group, advising large corporations on their strategy and transformation programs.