May 17, 2020

Efficio: setting up a post-COVID-19 supply chain

Supply Chain
Sean Galea-Pace
3 min
Efficio: setting up a post-COVID-19 supply chain
Supply Chain Digital takes a closer look at leading supply chain consultancy Efficio’s report ‘Setting up a post-COVID-19 supply chain’.

With the...

Supply Chain Digital takes a closer look at leading supply chain consultancy Efficio’s report ‘Setting up a post-COVID-19 supply chain’.

With the coronavirus outbreak shaking up the world, the eventual effect it will have on the supply chain, like so many other industries, remains unclear. Suppliers in Asia were the first to shut down production, with procurement and supply chain executes immediately hit with the vulnerability of their global supply chains.

Supply base resilience

COVID-19 has uncovered weaknesses in many organisation’s supply chains. Companies must now review the global footprint of their supply base to avoid supply-side risk from one geography. The coronavirus has shown that companies that have developed and introduced supply chain risk management as part of their SRM framework are better prepared to mitigate the business impact.

It is vital to implement risk assessments into your supplier relationship management strategy and develop business continuity plans. They should not just cover the ongoing review of global supply base setup in terms of geography but also economic and political risk analysis of the countries in which your suppliers are located. It is wise that companies multi-source strategic commodities or key components to decrease the dependence on a single supplier. Supply chain and procurement executives should analyse their spend and reduce the reliability on one supplier and location.

A new approach to inventory management

Procurement and supply chain executives should review their material and develop an increased amount of distinguished strategies for each sub-group of materials. Lots of companies have struggled significantly from the lack of supply of low-value critical items, such as the expensive PPE equipment like mouth and nose masks. Organisations should include low value items into their thoughts as ‘strategic goods’ as they can’t be produced without them. 


Just-in-time delivery has also become a key area of focus for supply chain managers. Due to the recent disruptions because of the crisis, an adjustment to today’s reality is necessary to increase reliability.

Re-evaluate contract structures

Due to the unprecedented nature of COVID-19, many contracts have included a force majeure which allows for such a disruption. Efficio believes there are several key commitments that companies should require from suppliers during the disruption. Executives should ask themselves:

  • How are we dealing with short-term changes?

  • How can we ensure supply safety and supply priority?

  • What if prices are changing rapidly?

  • What happens if volumes are committed?

  • How are business risks shared?

Treat your logistics providers as partners

It is also important to evaluate your logistic setup. Due to the substantial decrease in global air traffic, it led to a reduction in air freight capacity, which affected many global organisations that rely on just-in-time delivery models. This caused delays in production because of missing critical items and, more importantly, increased congestion at major ports globally.

Efficio believes that firms should consider their logistics providers as partners in order to secure capacity and work out different routes to get the products to their customers efficiently.

Digitalise your supply chain

It remains vital that companies can increase the visibility of their supply chain once production resumes at full capacity. Organisations should focus on Tier 1 suppliers to help your organisation to understand the supplier’s flexibility to shift and change production at a moment’s notice. It is also key to ensure visibility further down the supply chain on Tier 2 and 3 suppliers because their performance impacts your supplier’s capability to complete orders.

To read Efficio’s full report, click here!

For more information on procurement, supply chain and logistics topics - please take a look at the latest edition of Supply Chain Digital magazine.

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Jun 11, 2021

NTT DATA Services, Remodelling Supply Chains for Resilience

6 min
Joey Dean, Managing Director of healthcare consulting at NTT DATA Services, shares remodelling strategies for more resilient supply chains

Joey Dean, the man with the coolest name ever and Managing Director in the healthcare consulting practice for NTT DATA and is focused on delivering workplace transformation and enabling the future workforce for healthcare providers. Dean also leads client innovation programs to enhance service delivery and business outcomes for clients.

The pandemic has shifted priorities and created opportunities to do things differently, and companies are now looking to build more resilient supply chains, none needed more urgently than those within the healthcare system. Dean shares with us how he feels they can get there.

A Multi-Vendor Sourcing Approach

“Healthcare systems cannot afford delays in the supply chain when there are lives at stake. Healthcare procurement teams are looking at multi-vendor sourcing strategies, stockpiling more inventory, and ways to use data and AI to have a predictive view into the future and drive greater efficiency.

“The priority should be to shore up procurement channels and re-evaluate inventory management norms, i.e. stockpiling for assurance. Health systems should take the opportunity to renegotiate with their current vendors and broaden the supplier channel. Through those efforts, work with suppliers that have greater geographic diversity and transparency around manufacturing data, process, and continuity plans,” says Dean.

But here ensues the never-ending battle of domestic vs global supply chains. As I see it, domestic sourcing limits the high-risk exposure related to offshore sourcing— Canada’s issue with importing the vaccine is a good example of that. So, of course, I had to ask, for lifesaving products, is building domestic capabilities an option that is being considered?

“Domestic supply chains are sparse or have a high dependence on overseas centres for parts and raw materials. There are measures being discussed from a legislative perspective to drive more domestic sourcing, and there will need to be a concerted effort by Western countries through a mix of investments and financial incentives,” Dean explains.

Wielding Big Tech for Better Outcomes

So, that’s a long way off. In the meantime, leveraging technology is another way to mitigate the risks that lie within global supply chains while decreasing costs and improving quality. Dean expands on the potential of blockchain and AI in the industry

“Blockchain is particularly interesting in creating more transparency and visibility across all supply chain activities. Organisations can create a decentralised record of all transactions to track assets from production to delivery or use by end-user. This increased supply chain transparency provides more visibility to both buyers and suppliers to resolve disputes and build more trusting relationships. Another benefit is that the validation of data is more efficient to prioritise time on the delivery of goods and services to reduce cost and improve quality. 

“Artificial Intelligence and Machine Learning (AI/ML) is another area where there’s incredible value in processing massive amounts of data to aggregate and normalise the data to produce proactive recommendations on actions to improve the speed and cost-efficiency of the supply chain.”

Evolving Procurement Models 

From asking more of suppliers to beefing up stocks, Dean believes procurement models should be remodelled to favour resilience, mitigate risk and ensure the needs of the customer are kept in view. 

“The bottom line is that healthcare systems are expecting more from their suppliers. While transactional approaches focused solely on price and transactions have been the norm, collaborative relationships, where the buyer and supplier establish mutual objectives and outcomes, drives a trusting and transparent relationship. Healthcare systems are also looking to multi-vendor strategies to mitigate risk, so it is imperative for suppliers to stand out and embrace evolving procurement models.

“Healthcare systems are looking at partners that can establish domestic centres for supplies to mitigate the risks of having ‘all of their eggs’ in overseas locations. Suppliers should look to perform a strategic evaluation review that includes a distribution network analysis and distribution footprint review to understand cost, service, flexibility, and risks. Included in that strategy should be a “voice of the customer” assessment to understand current pain points and needs of customers.”

“Healthcare supply chain leaders are re-evaluating the Just In Time (JIT) model with supplies delivered on a regular basis. The approach does not require an investment in infrastructure but leaves organisations open to risk of disruption. Having domestic centres and warehousing from suppliers gives healthcare systems the ability to have inventory on hand without having to invest in their own infrastructure. Also, in the spirit of transparency, having predictive views into inventory levels can help enable better decision making from both sides.”

But, again, I had to ask, what about the risks and associated costs that come with higher inventory levels, such as expired product if there isn’t fast enough turnover, tying up cash flow, warehousing and inventory management costs?

“In the current supply chain environment, it is advisable for buyers to carry an in-house inventory on a just-in-time basis, while suppliers take a just-in-case approach, preserving capacity for surges, retaining safety stock, and building rapid replenishment channels for restock. But the risk of expired product is very real. This could be curbed with better data intelligence and improved technology that could forecast surges and predictively automate future supply needs. In this way, ordering would be more data-driven and rationalised to align with anticipated surges. Further adoption of data and intelligence and will be crucial for modernised buying in the new normal.

The Challenges

These are tough tasks, so I asked Dean to speak to some of the challenges. Luckily, he’s a patient guy with a lot to say.

On managing stakeholders and ensuring alignment on priorities and objectives, Dean says, “In order for managing stakeholders to stay aligned on priorities, they’ll need more transparency and collaborative win-win business relationships in which both healthcare systems and medical device manufacturers are equally committed to each other’s success. On the healthcare side, they need to understand where parts and products are manufactured to perform more predictive data and analytics for forecasting and planning efforts. And the manufacturers should offer more data transparency which will result in better planning and forecasting to navigate the ebbs and flows and enable better decision-making by healthcare systems.

Due to the sensitive nature of the information being requested, the effort to increase visibility is typically met with a lot of reluctance and push back. Dean essentially puts the onus back on suppliers to get with the times. “Traditionally, the relationships between buyers and suppliers are transactional, based only on the transaction between the two parties: what is the supplier providing, at what cost, and for what length of time. The relationship begins and ends there. The tide is shifting, and buyers expect more from their suppliers, especially given what the pandemic exposed around the fragility of the supply chain. The suppliers that get ahead of this will not only reap the benefits of improved relationships, but they will be able to take action on insights derived from greater visibility to manage risks more effectively.”

He offers a final tip. “A first step in enabling a supply chain data exchange is to make sure partners and buyers are aware of the conditions throughout the supply chain based on real-time data to enable predictive views into delays and disruptions. With well understand data sets, both parties can respond more effectively and work together when disruptions occur.”

As for where supply chain is heading, Dean says, “Moving forward, we’ll continue to see a shift toward Robotic Process Automation (RPA), Artificial Intelligence (AI), and advanced analytics to optimise the supply chain. The pandemic, as it has done in many other industries, will accelerate the move to digital, with the benefits of improving efficiency, visibility, and error rate. AI can consume enormous amounts of data to drive real-time pattern detection and mitigate risk from global disruptive events.”


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