No company operates in isolation, so it's essential to identify continuity risks, any potential bottlenecks, and any single points of failure. By building a simple, four-step action plan, manufacturers can manage the impact of the COVID-19 outbreak or a similar future event. These four steps include:
- Prevention: Talk to your critical suppliers to ensure they have plans to respond to the constant changes of the outbreak and to understand what these plans include. But take other measures to protect your interests in case those plans aren't effective — identify alternative suppliers you can use as backups and review any contractual liabilities you could face in the event of delays, cancellations, or quality issues.
- Response - Where possible and as working capital allows, stockpile critical supplies. Continue to communicate with existing suppliers, encouraging openness about their level of disruption. And modify orders and shipment arrangements as needed if demand for your products increases.
- Recovery - Find new suppliers if necessary to enable greater resilience. Review lessons learned with critical suppliers to understand how things could be improved during the next disruptive event. Explore and invoke any relevant contract clauses that may help limit costs or accelerate your recovery. And determine whether any failures of contract KPIs constitute a breach worthy of compensation.
- Rebound - Given the complexity of rebooting companies and supply chains at different speeds in different places, the time to begin preparing a rebound strategy is now. Businesses who have the ability to reimagine the operating models and portfolio of offerings will find opportunities. Those that shape and benefit from the future will be the business that can imagine it and implement the right strategies.