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Global Supply Chain

Supply Chain Disruption - Suddenly It's Totally In Focus

Ned Blinick

Chief Product Officer at 3rdwave

Wow, who would of thought that almost everyone would be talking about supply chain disruption and its potential affects on the consumer, the business and the whole economy. It is truly water-cooler and dinner party conversation and everyone has an opinion.In the past - that is pre-Trump the general focus on supply chain disruption was on physical catastrophic events, wars, and political upheaval (originating somewhere else than the United States). Now the focus is the United States and what supply chain disruptions might occur because of actions of the the Trump administration. Now, having a plan to deal with the unforeseen disruption is becoming a important component of any company's strategic plan. If they aren't thinking about it and planning for it they may be caught in a business "tsunami" that totally engulfs them.I read a really insightful thought piece by Scott Robinson, an IT consultant and social science researcher, "Trump presidency makes supply chain disruption planning critical", which lays out some very strategic things a company should be doing to mitigate supply chain disruption. His suggestions are not necessarily new but they are worth reading to refresh yourself on what steps your company should be taking to protect itself from the unforeseen and immediate disruptions.However, what is not talked about are the steps that companies should be taking, from an operational perspective, to allow them to quickly adapt to the rapid changes in their supply chain that disruption brings. So here are some questions to ask yourself and your management:

  1. Is there a comprehensive view of the global supply chain? Is there a view of where product sits across the entire supply chain network? That means knowing the position of your purchase orders, shipment plans, in-transit shipments, customs and border statuses, inventory positions and demand plans.
  2. Can the organization quickly analyze the effects of the disruption and understand the downstream impact on your supply chain? Can the organization analyze how the disruption will affect its ability to deliver raw-materials and components to manufacturing facilities? How will it affect its ability to deliver finished goods to the channel so that consumer disruption is minimized?
  3. Does the organization have the data and information it requires to quickly develop a well reasoned plan of action to reconfigure the supply chain to minimize the affect of the disruption and optimize the supply position to the channels?
  4. Can the organization reposition and align supply, logistics and trade compliance to move product to where it is needed most at the most optimal cost?

If the answer to any of these questions is NO, the organization is ill-equipped to handle disruption and is exposed to severe consequences. These consequences are both competitive and financial and have been written about previously so I will not go into them again.If the answer to one or more of these questions is NO, the organization needs to look at its current systems and identify where the gaps are to providing the visibility and decision making support capabilities that are necessary to enable rapid response to supply chain disruption. The solution must at a minimum provide:

  1. Visibility to disruption. This includes the ability to see all critical SKUs across the entire supply chains from purchase orders and the execution status at the supplier or warehouses , in-transit shipment positions, and trade compliance activity. It means having visibility into the cost of the product, origins of the product and its availability to be repositioned.
  2. Analytic support that identifies the potential impact across the supply chain and provides insight as to options available to respond to the disruption.
  3. Decision support that enables the organization to come up with a practical and implementable plan to respond to the disruption. From a global supply chain perspective this means being able to look at the options available to reposition inventory in the most timely and cost effective manner. This includes understanding the logistics options and the trade compliance implications and creating a viable and executable plan to mitigate the effects of the disruption at the most critical points of the supply chain.
  4. Action and execution capabilities. Executing a plan effectively and optimally is critical to minimizing the impact of the disruption. Without the infrastructure to react quickly and implement an action plan in line with the corporate objectives is very time consuming and slow.

The possibility of supply chain disruption has increased beyond the norm, as global trade comes under attack from protectionist movements and trade barriers are erected to protect populist interests. The threat is very real and if, and when, it happens those companies that have supply chain solutions - like 3rdwave - that allow organizations to quickly view, analyze, decide and act decisively will prevail when disruption strikes.

About 3rdwave:

3rdwave simplifies global trade through automation. 3rdwave is a GTM platform that delivers total global supply chain visibility, minimizes manual data entry, streamlines business process, and provides contextual information enabling its users to make informed decisions to reduce global supply chain risk. It's a cloud-based platform that requires minimal IT resources for quick implementation. 3rdwave ensures that companies meet the highest levels of GTM execution and Trade Compliance conformance.

Ned Blinick is Chief Product Officer of 3rdwave.co. He has been involved in global trade for too many decades and he loves making the global supply chain simpler for everyone. If you would like to engage with Ned he would really enjoy the opportunity of communicating with you or your boss. He can be reached at (416) 510 8800 ext 234 or at edward.blinick@3rdwave.co.