Procurement professionals who hoped the final curtain on this pandemic had come down are dealing with encore after encore as COVID-19 continues to wreak havoc on global supply chains.
And not like the good encores we used to see at live concerts in the "before time."
Domestic vaccine hesitancy, uneven global vaccine supply, and virus variants are slowing the economic recovery. In the areas where the economy is getting close to normal, help-wanted signs are ubiquitous, underscoring gaps where supply cannot meet demand. Add in truck driver shortages and port congestion, ransomware attacks, geopolitical turmoil and climate emergencies, and it is no wonder that the list of shortages is growing.
The past 18 months have been challenging for procurement professionals. Kudos to those who maintained supply lines and kept their companies viable and their customers happy. Your creativity, professionalism, and commitment are the hallmarks of the profession. We learn and evolve during trying times.
Before you get too comfortable drinking your morning coffee out of the commemorative "I Survived Peak Covid" mug, it's time to navigate the next phase in this pandemic. Let's call it the second peak, and it will take an all-out effort to get past this threat as well.
There are four things you can do today to position yourself, and your companies, for success during this next round.
Get back to basics
It's time to transition away from the "whatever it takes" pandemic-driven mentality to the more foundational processes and procedures that provide long-term stability to the company.
It may have felt good to be a renegade of sorts: Working from home without the traditional procedural guardrails we have come to expect and even appreciate; but those days are rapidly coming to an end as we dig out our work clothes and return to our offices, along with professional normalcy.
The days of maverick spend by non-procurement employees, understandable in a state of emergency, are over. You and your team are responsible for procurement, so take back control.
While some areas of creativity and innovation can be used to modify processes that outlived their usefulness, it is important to focus on the business fundamentals. Reduce emergent and spot buys, focus on overall supplier performance, and be sure to follow established legal and law of agency guidelines. Reset expectations with your suppliers, and theirs.
Pay attention to the headlines
The economic recovery is an uneven one and domestic and global supply chains remain at risk.
Pricing remains volatile, product shortages abound, and gaps in labor are impacting manufacturing, service and distribution companies. Economic pundits are forecasting economic challenges until 2023 while warning of an upcoming slowdown. Focus on long-term supply and pricing strategies of critical components.
In addition, government action on domesticating critical supply chains will have an impact on global supply. Understand the impact of congressional and executive actions impacting your business and get a handle on Federal Reserve inflationary data. You can be sure your suppliers are paying attention as they are planning their pricing strategies for the next several years.
Build a commodity management procurement strategy
Focus on commodity management to understand volatile market trends and economics.
Record-breaking lumber prices and supply restrictions impact everything from home building to book publishing. High oil prices continue to cause pressures on transportation costs and petroleum-based products. The worldwide shortage of computer chips impacted the production of cars and trucks, home appliances, and gaming consoles. And be prepared for rubber shortages, the next commodity expected to send to shockwaves through the supply chain.
What are the top five impacts in your commodity areas? Identify, track and report on them. Recognize important linkages and market trends. Become the commodity expert your company needs.
Revisit strategic sourcing
Even the best poker players discard a card or two to get a better hand. It's time to reshuffle the supplier deck and make the necessary changes to meet the needs of the second peak.
The stress test of the past year has given great insights into the existing supply base. Some suppliers performed admirably and will remain a mainstay. Others were marginal performers and may need to either up their game or be replaced by a more suitable supplier. And some may not have survived the pandemic and alternate sourcing efforts may already be underway.
Now is the perfect time to reassess your suppliers to see who makes the cut. Be sure there is still alignment for critical path suppliers, and evaluate the remainder of suppliers in specific commodity areas, including second-tier and service suppliers.
Above all, keep an eye out for the inevitable third encore. Rock on.
This story was first published in our weekly newsletter, Supply Chain Dive: Procurement. Sign up here.