COVID-19 Safe Supplier Operating Standard - Part One


Summary T he COVID-19 pandemic has caused many organisations to fully appreciate the fragility of their supply chains and the importance of supplier relationships in improving resilience and having more effective continuity plans. The crisis has also put the spotlight on seven risk areas that typically get overlooked in normal risk assessments. Supplier management is often seen as a time-consuming and intricate activity to implement – something that is achieved over many months, not weeks. However this need not be the case – it is possible to implement supplier management at speed as we have outlined. Although supplier management at speed sounds attractive (and it is), we must issue a word of caution. If the primary goal is to respond to an event that has already happened, there is a huge risk that the whole initiative may be seen as a “flavour of month” programme. This is why we are advocating two work streams to implement supplier management at speed: 1. Building for longevity, so that the programme is implemented in a structured, repeatable, and systematic way, and can deliver value (in many forms) as a business-as-usual activity. 2. Delivering rapid results by putting the emphasis on active supplier collaboration to find and unlock the value that is inherent to the supplier relationships that a business depends on.

The two work streams can be run in parallel but only when both are implemented will supplier management be a sustainable business activity that delivers value. Technology is a vital enabler to implementing supplier management at speed, but this has to go beyond simply being a passive information repository. The seven unanticipated risks highlighted in this paper provide a sobering reminder that protecting supply chains requires strong supplier relationships. In part two of this whitepaper we put forward the Safe Supplier Operating Standard in the format of a checklist for businesses to use with their suppliers – not for audit purposes, but to identify gaps and opportunities, protect their supply chains, and facilitate collaboration.

About the authors

Alan Day is the Chairman and founder of State of Flux, and has led the company from strength to strength since 2004. He has over 20 years’ experience in driving thought leadership in procurement and supply chain best practice.

John Newton is Product Management Director and Head of Learning at State of Flux, and has over 20 years’ experience in major account management, professional services, and supply chain functions.



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