Be savvy and prepare to bounce back from the global coronavirus outbreak

Forward-looking businesses are already taking steps to bounce back from Covid-19

Businesses have yet to see the full impact of coronavirus (Covid-19).

 

Potential scenarios range from manageable disruption as the virus is brought under control in the coming months to a full-on global recession lasting much of the year.

 

In any case, the challenges that Covid-19 pose will not last forever. Here are some steps your organisation can take to prepare to return to business as usual.

Make the most of your time

Had to cancel that overseas trip? Sitting at the kitchen table at home because your office is locked down? Capitalise on the time that has been freed up by missing meetings to think about the positive steps you can make to help your organisation bounce back from the disruption.

 

Revisit longstanding plans that have been left on the backburner. Take time to focus on your personal development or engage with external resources to help hone your strategies.

Seize the opportunity to shout about the value of procurement

The coronavirus outbreak has provided procurement functions with a golden opportunity to demonstrate their value to their wider business. Make a point of communicating, both to the C-suite and your internal stakeholders, how your team is helping to mitigate and manage supplier risk as the crisis has unfolded to show procurement creates value and cuts costs.

Strengthen relationships with suppliers

The disruption caused by Covid-19 has the potential to damage supply chains for months after the virus has been contained so it is worth taking steps now to build stronger relationships with your suppliers.

 

Offer help, whether in the form of masks and other safety equipment or interest-free financial support, to help the supply chain remain resilient and try to remain in constant contact with strategic partners.

 

These gestures will pay off in the long term, as they strengthen your partnerships and improve the resilience of your supply chain.

 

If supplier relationship management has not been a priority for your organisation, now is an opportunity to consider whether it should assume a more prominent role in your strategic agenda.

 

As one procurement professional working in the healthcare industry says: “Fortunately, most [of our] suppliers in China are [either] back up and running or able to run limited capacity to meet our needs. Thank goodness for strategic partnerships, as they give us priority.”

Learn lessons from the crisis

Consider whether any of the adjustments you had to make as a result of the outbreak have, overall, had a positive impact on the business.

 

Has letting employees spend more time working from home boosted productivity? Have you had to switch to an emergency supplier who is better than the previous provider? Has holding fewer face-to-face meetings saved valuable time?

 

“This crisis has created a level of leadership around creativity and pushing innovation in partnership with other companies in our industry,” says one executive in the pharmaceuticals industry. “Even though we’re dealing with something that’s a real global issue, there’s a positive element because it’s an opportunity to think creatively.”

 

Use the outbreak as an opportunity to evaluate whether your current policies and processes could be improved.

Prepare for next time

There is nothing to suggest that another global pandemic is going to hit anytime soon but fresh risks are always around the corner. A state-sponsored cyberattack against important government infrastructure or massive natural disaster caused by climate change could be similarly disruptive.

 

Take time to learn how other organisations have responded to the outbreak and think about how you might respond differently to help inform your organisation’s future mitigation plans.

 

Once you have analysed your learnings, it may be beneficial to gather with suppliers to share insights and work together on new structures and processes that enable all parties to be better prepared in future. As well as improving your practices, this will also help you to forge closer relationships.

 

Image: B.Zhou / Shutterstock.com

Jack Torrance

Jack Torrance -

Customer Insights Manager, Procurement Leaders

Jack Torrance is a customer insights manager at Procurement Leaders, responsible for capturing member success stories and sharing them with the wider community for collective progression. A former business journalist at the Telegraph, his main procurement interests are sustainability, innovation and risk.