Maximize Incident Response Effectiveness: Supply Chain Considerations

by Tom Uva

This article is part of a larger series of posts related to assisting mid-market companies in maximizing incident response effectiveness. See all parts of the series. 

Most companies understand that having external partnerships are a critical part of doing business.  This is especially true for mid-market companies who are large enough to have sizable operations, but not large enough to be able to perform all functions and business processes internally.  Additionally, mid-sized companies, for good reasons, are typically dependent on upstream and downstream supply chain partners in order to keep their businesses running in a productive way.  This includes procurement of things such as services, labor, raw materials, product components, etc.

There are unique challenges mid-market companies face when looking to manage supply chain dependencies over which they have no control.  This becomes exacerbated when a company faces adverse operating conditions, such as the COVID-19 pandemic.  The in-depth understanding and active management of a company’s supply chain will demand a higher level of prioritization and active management from executive leadership and management teams.  When formulating and executing the supply chain aspects of your Incident Response (IR) plan, the Operational and Technology experts at Elliott Davis would like to help accelerate your response efforts by sharing our expertise, cross-industry experience, and observations of working with other mid-market companies facing the same set of challenges.

Our intent is to provide you with thought triggers and give you simple, practical guidance to provide you with a starting point to create and/or refine the Supply Chain segment of your incident response plan.  We recommend you consider the following items for your IR Supply Chain plan and incorporate the ones which make sense for your specific scenario.

Do

Don’t

Identify, inventory and prioritize key areas of supply chain risk:  Materials, Labor, Logistics, Sourcing, etc.

Develop appropriate mitigation strategies and contingency plans.  Focus on risks having mid-high probabilities of occurrence and/or impact.

Identify sole-source providers and develop alternate options, contract revisions, etc.

Consider alternate suppliers/sourcing options, larger quantity purchases, etc.  Have supply chain dependencies and alternative channels been identified and secured in case of disruption? What happens if the backup options fail?

Determine approach for assuring products being sent to customers are not contaminated.

Request incident response plans from key suppliers and backup sourcing partners.

Assume your customer demand will remain constant or equal to pre-incident forecasts.  Customer behavior and purchasing patterns will likely change in the short term.

Plan that all supplies, materials, components will be available when you need them.  Consider pulling forward key supply needs and inventory components.

Fail to consider both domestic and international geographies.   Determine if your supply chain partners have restricted transportation in and out of impacted areas.

Forget to re-evaluate safety stock levels of key elements.  This applies both up and down the supply chain.

Limit your risk analysis to just your immediate suppliers/providers.  This needs to be done beyond 1st level supply chain relationships.  E.g. suppliers to your suppliers.

Be caught off-guard – Ensure proper documentation is in place and up to date should a quick change of suppliers needs to happen.

We Can Help

If your organization has concerns about continuing operations, developing and implementing an incident response plan or is working to determine the best way to serve its customers and employees, the Operational and Technology experts at Elliott Davis can help. We have a team of experts with the deep practical experience and expertise necessary to help you actively manage through this unprecedented series of events and keep your business moving in the right direction.

Tom Uva is located in the Greenville, South Carolina office of Elliott Davis and leads the firm’s Management Consulting Services practice.  He has nearly 30 years of extensive, high-quality experience in multiple industries where he held Senior Leadership roles such as VP of Business Optimization, Chief Information Officer, and VP of Operations. Tom is also a faculty member at both Clemson University and Syracuse University, with graduate-level practices at each institution. If you need assistance or have any questions, please contact him at tom.uva@elliottdavis.com or fill out the form below.

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