Thousands of articles, columns, blogs, news programs, and podcasts have already discussed how the global pandemic disrupted supply chains worldwide over the last year and a half, but the vast majority of that coverage has been looking back at the events of 2020 to showcase and learn lessons from how supply chains kept a locked-down world running. The truth is COVID-19 will continue to disrupt global supply chains now and for a long time still to come, and every business should be rethinking its risk management strategies.

A tsunami in Japan, a hurricane hits the East Coast, monsoon rains flood Bangladesh, a volcano erupts in Iceland cancelling flights across Europe, a ship runs aground in the Suez Canal, all these and more have trained supply chain planners to build risk into how they source and move goods. Some are annual and can be predicted to an extent, while others can happen at any time, but happen relatively rarely.

COVID-19 is different. Ports and other intermodal links in global supply chains are going to be vulnerable to sudden and unexpected shutdowns for years to come as governments combat the spread of a disease that we can vaccinate against, but never eliminate. What does supply chain risk management look like when whole countries can decide to close down without notice?

Here are a few questions to ask about how your supply chain thinks about risk:

  • How has the last 18 months changed your supply chain operations in response to the global pandemic? How many of those changes were proactive?
  • What steps, if any, are you taking to improve your supply chain’s transparency and visibility?
  • Which companies do you believe performed the best during the COVID-19 crisis? What do those companies’ supply chains have in common?
  • If you had unlimited resources, what would you do to minimize and mitigate the new risk of disruption in your supply chain? How many of those solutions can also be achieved through greater collaboration with business partners?
  • How confident are you that you and your team can debottleneck your supply chain on short notice? Is that something you can train for, run drills for, and build up a portfolio of worked through scenarios in anticipation of unexpected shutdowns?

Geoff Micks
Head of Content & Research
Executive Platforms

Geoff joined the industry events business as a conference producer in 2010 after four years working in print media. He has researched, planned, organized, run, and contributed to more than a hundred events across North America and Europe for senior leaders, with special emphasis on the energy, mining, manufacturing, maintenance, supply chain, human resources, pharmaceutical, food and beverage, finance, and sustainability sectors. As part of his role as Head of Content & Research, Geoff hosts Executive Platforms’ bluEPrint Podcast series as well as a weekly blog focusing on issues relevant to Executive Platforms’ network of business leaders.

Geoff is the author of five works of historical fiction: Inca, Zulu, Beginning, Middle, and End. The New York Times and National Public Radio have interviewed him about his writing, and he wrote and narrated an animated short for Vice Media that appeared on HBO. He has a BA Honours with High Distinction from the University of Toronto specializing Journalism with a Double Minor in History and Classical Studies, as well as Diploma in Journalism from Centennial College.