How to Respond to Supply Chain Disruption? Disrupt It

Establish Better N-Tier Supplier Visibility

The pace of supply chain disruption is not likely to slow down any time soon. Wise companies are putting plans in place to strengthen their ability to respond. Since these disruptions often occur beyond the first tier of the supply chain, working directly with suppliers to monitor and mitigate n-tier supplier risk can be a very effective strategy.

Procurement teams are the natural owners of this approach, given the relationships they have with the existing supply base and their role as the gatekeeper for newly onboarded suppliers. They can also ensure that distributed buyers and budget owners have access to the information they need to spot a disruption as soon as possible and select a response strategy that stops it in its tracks.

The ability to “disrupt disruption” is an important step toward the goal of becoming future-ready. Future-ready procurement teams have the capability to react quickly and decisively to unforeseen events by being predictive, agile, interconnected, and intelligent. These functional attributes can help companies build greater resilience and create a source of competitive advantage in an uncertain business climate.

To effectively implement this course of action, companies will need to invest in supplier data management capabilities, with the goal of increasing their visibility into the supply chain and building out processes for continuous data monitoring.

Why Real-Time Data Is Important

Knowing what is happening in the supply chain is — like many other business activities these days — an entirely data-dependent task. Physical distance, language barriers, and time zone differences make the case for building a data repository that is as comprehensive as possible and automatically kept up to date.

A company’s master data, which should include information about suppliers, invoices, inventory, and customer orders, should be a source of pride for everyone who accesses it — instilling trust in decision makers and empowering them to make important decisions quickly and opportunistically from a solid informational foundation.

This is easy to agree with, but the work required to make it a reality is far more challenging. Many common practices undermine data quality and data trust, and limit the company’s ability to mitigate disruptions. Such as:

  • Having multiple “sources of truth” — by business unit, function, or system — that are not centrally integrated and therefore present an incomplete picture to users (whether they know it or not)
  • Requiring any system or record to be manually updated as circumstances unavoidably change
  • Quick fixes that give the appearance that a data set is a unified source of truth, when in fact it is not
  • Allowing parallel communications related to orders (either upstream to suppliers or downstream to customers) to take place via email rather than through designated systems

Choose Analytical Tools that Help Decision Making

The more comprehensive a data set is, the more sophistication is required to leverage it. The best-suited analytical tools will serve as a bridge between complex and simple, allowing users to run reports, build dashboards, and access data without needing to have a data science degree.

It doesn’t matter how complete a data set is if those with decision-making responsibility perceive it as “too difficult to use.” Similarly, even the most complete, pristine data set has no value to a company if it doesn’t create actionable intelligence. Analytical tools should be easy to access, intuitive to use, and kept close at hand for anyone tasked with monitoring or managing third-party risk and compliance..

Build and Maintain a Full Supply Chain Cycle View

Supply chains are huge, complex, changeable ecosystems. Companies work with thousands (or hundreds of thousands) of suppliers who have their own supply chains, logistics networks, and business partners. And that is just the upstream view. When we look downstream, customer relationships and logistics providers are equally complex and interrelated. Being able to secure and maintain a view of that supply chain — in both directions — has gone from future roadmap “nice to have” to present-day essential.

Achieving this does require a set-up investment as well as ongoing maintenance, but it’s a powerful weapon in the face of supply chain disruption. With this information readily available, procurement can understand all the implications (direct and indirect) of specific or systemic risk, what the pre-qualified alternatives are, and what the cost of disruption will be, both monetarily and in terms of customer impact.

Companies must accept the fact that no matter how sophisticated their supply chain management strategy is, some events elude prediction. This is the essential rationale for becoming future-ready. Procurement’s approach to supplier data management and its commitment to greater supply chain visibility can make all the difference in achieving future-readiness and the ability to disrupt disruption.


Learn more about  how Dun & Bradstreet helps procurement  become more future-ready and build resilient supply chains.


The information and opinions provided by Dun & Bradstreet in reports, articles and blog posts are suggestions only and based on best practices. Dun & Bradstreet is not liable for the outcome or results of specific programs or tactics. Please contact an attorney or tax professional if you are in need of legal or tax advice.