Procurement and Supply Chain Live: John McNiff

By Helen Adams
John McNiff, Vice President of SAP's Digital Supply Chain & Industry, explores sustainability initiatives in the supply chain & developing resilience

From Brexit, to the Coronavirus pandemic to the Suez canal blockage, the whole world has come to understand the importance of a healthy supply chain.

However, many have taken matters into their own hands.  

“My brother-in-law has a barn full of [toilet roll and gasoline], we call him King Rat”, explains John McNiff, Vice President of SAP's Digital Supply Chain & Industry. 

But stockpiling is unremarkable in 2021. According to McNiff, 52% of manufacturing executives have already said that they are buying more supplies - to meet customer expectations and to prepare for the next disaster. 

Yet McNiff has a firm message - don’t panic, build resilience.

Digital supply chain in times of disruption

McNiff explained what strategies SAP hopes will help businesses going forward. 

“First off we want to get businesses ready so that they can keep going, there’s a lot that are not going to keep going because of what’s gone on in the last two years”, said McNiff sadly. “But you need to be resilient - and if you can keep going and going and going, how can you adapt to the changes?”

McNiff shared the results from a study from McKinsey:

  • 93% of supply chain executives are looking to improve the resilience of their supply chain
  • 44% have tools to monitor their entire supply chain
  • 51% of companies are focused on sustainability initiatives for their supply chain


“If you’re going to hit net zero, the first thing you need to do is understand how you get [these numbers] under control”, concluded McNiff.


Strengths and vulnerabilities in the supply chain

According to McNiff, resilient businesses need digitalised operations and supply chains built for speed and flexibility. McNiff is determined to pull apart two words, which can be incorrectly interchanged:

Digitise: taking a process built for paper and putting it into a system

Digitalise: putting a different practise in place

“The first thing we need to be resilient in is agility”, says McNiff. “Can we become more productive? The third one - this is the big one - connectivity. Our idea is to get to a unified business level."


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