According to a recent survey, 94% of Fortune 1000 companies have experienced supply chain disruptions since the pandemic. Big businesses aren’t the only ones impacted by this ongoing crisis. Studies show that 80% of small businesses also faced supply chain issues and 87% of consumers claim to have been negatively impacted by supply chain disruptions.

With most experts agreeing that it could take years to fully repair these supply chain issues, your organization can no longer afford to wait for things to get better. Instead, now is the time to take actionable steps to overcome these challenges and strengthen your organization's supply chain processes.

This article takes a closer look at three primary steps your company can take to overcome the supply chain crisis, including:

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7 actionable steps for overcoming supply chain challenges

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adoption of digital technology

Supply chain management is an extremely complex process that involves multiple stages, layers and suppliers. While many companies are still using the ‘old way of working,’ including the use of Excel spreadsheets, this manual process is both outdated and time-consuming. If your company is still using spreadsheets to manage your supply chain process, it’s time to consider investing in digital technology.

The harsh reality is that if your company wants to secure the goods it needs in today’s highly competitive market while keeping costs under control, you must be able to make supply chain decisions quickly and efficiently. This step requires analytical data, real-time reports and accurate forecasting. The type of data that can’t be sourced from manual spreadsheets alone.

However, digital technology, such as AI, can provide the data and insights you need to identify market trends and more accurately predict the company’s future needs. Having the right technology in place can give your company the competitive edge it needs to build a strong supplier network and agile and resilent supply chain processes.

Supply chain technology, such as demand forecasting, inventory management and warehouse management, is helping companies save time and money, while improving efficiency. For example, Sargento was able to reduce freight costs while enhancing visibility within its processes by trading in its manual processes for transportation management technology. 

acquisition of digital talent

Your company cannot effectively integrate digital technology into its supply chain processes without also acquiring the necessary digital skills and competencies. Additionally, companies need employees who can analyze this data and turn it into valuable supply chain insight. This type of advanced data analysis is so important that 75% of employers plan to increase its use over the upcoming years. And for good reasons. Studies show that successful companies are more than 2.5 times more likely to have advanced data analysis capabilities in place.

Unfortunately, studies show that businesses are significantly lacking in this area. In fact, according to a recent study, only 1% of businesses felt that they have the necessary level of in-house digital skills to move the company forward.

Considering the extremely low number of prepared companies, there’s a high likelihood that your company needs to take steps to acquire the digital skills necessary to implement advanced supply chain technology. This step can be accomplished by building a robust hiring strategy and investing in employee training on topics, such as business analytics, supply chain planning technology, 3D printing and blockchain.

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A recent study reveals that 93% of supply chain managers want to make their supply chain process more agile and flexible than it was before the pandemic.

McKinsey

diversification of supply network

A recent study reveals that 93% of supply chain managers want to make their supply chain process more agile and flexible than it was before the pandemic. One of the ways companies are planning to make this a reality is by building a more diversified supply chain network.

Prior to the pandemic, many businesses relied heavily on national and international suppliers. When COVID-19 brought about border closures, these international, and even some national, trade sources halted delivery and many of these companies couldn’t obtain the supplies they needed.  Businesses were forced to seek out localized and regional suppliers, who were already stretched thin trying to meet demand.

Many businesses found themselves unable to fill shelves, secure the raw materials needed for production or transport goods from point A to point B. These struggles are still impacting businesses today. As of May 2022, 20% of cargo ships were unable to dock due to congested shipping ports.

To avoid these issues in the future, 90% of business leaders plan to focus on building relationships with local and regional suppliers. Before this step can happen, however, your company should consider not only investing in digital supply chain technology, but also increasing visibility within your supply chain network.

Unfortunately, less than 50% of businesses know the location of their tier-one suppliers. This lack of visibility could make it nearly impossible to assess the risk within your supply chain processes, and therefore make the company unable to prepare for future disruptions.

The good news is that the right technology can add the visibility your company needs to mitigate supply chain disruptions. Understanding where your suppliers are located and the risks involved with this partnership can better prepare your company for any future supply chain issues.

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7 actionable steps for overcoming supply chain challenges

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building a robust hiring strategy

Before you start the hiring process, it’s important for your company to conduct a skills assessment to identify exactly what digital skills your company needs to acquire now and in the future. This step ensures your company isn't just hiring tech-savvy candidates, but that you’re seeking out applicants that possess the specific skills your company requires.

Knowing your company’s digital skills needs is an important first step. However, it’s equally important to realize that technology is advancing so quickly that these skills could be obsolete in just a few short years. Therefore, it’s also important to seek out candidates that could be easily trained as technology continues to advance. For example, you might look for applicants with soft skills, such as motivation, critical thinking and problem-solving, that show their willingness and ability to learn new things.

investing in upskilling and reskilling

Given the current labor shortage and ongoing skills gap, your company may not be able to acquire the digital skills it needs through hiring alone. As the job market continues to tighten and competition is at an all-time high, many companies are investing in employee training to acquire the in-house digital skills they need.

The benefits of this type of employee training are that it ensures your company acquires the specific digital skills it needs and helps to reduce turnover by letting your employees know that you’re willing to invest in their future.

Please use these images in the context of inclusion projects
Please use these images in the context of inclusion projects

building a flexible workforce

Resilience, or the ability to recover quickly from supply chain disruptions, is the ultimate goal of every company, especially in today’s post-pandemic economy. The best way to gain this type of resiliency is to build flexibility into your supply chain process, including creating a flexible workforce.

There are several ways you can develop this type of flexibility, including:

take advantage of the growing gig economy

The rise of the gig economy makes it easier than perhaps any point in history to find qualified consultants within every industry. These consultants can help to fill in the gaps when hiring a full-time employee just doesn’t make sense.

For example, if your company wants to invest in supply chain technology but you’re not sure which digital tools are right for your company, you can hire a consultant to help you with the decision-making process. This consultant can meet with you to better understand the unique needs of your company.  They can then help you explore your options and explain the pros and cons of any decision. You can also hire consultants to help with the implementation and training process.

Alternatively, you can partner with an HR solutions company, such as Randstad, to help hire for those hard-to-fill and high-volume roles. This step can help your company secure the talent it needs to meet production needs, without the time, hassle and expense of hiring an in-house recruitment team. Additionally, an HR partner can provide workers’ insights and give you instant access to a large talent pool.

tap into the power of a contingent workforce

A great way to develop a flexible workforce with the power to shift and scale up and down as needed is to tap into the power of contingent workers. These temporary workers can help companies cope with staffing shortages and complete special projects without the need of hiring full-time, permanent employees.  Not only is the use of contingent workers more affordable, but it can also significantly expand your talent pool.

However, managing and scheduling contingent workers can be quite complex, but not when you work with Randstad. We already maintain a large talent pool of contingent workers and our teams can handle the hiring, onboarding, training and shift scheduling process. Our Randstad In-House Services gives your company the advantage of utilizing contingent workers without the hassle.

The right contingent workforce strategy can enable your company to meet the fluctuating demands of the market and successfully deal with supply chain disruptions.

If your company, like the majority of businesses across the world, is struggling to mitigate the current supply chain crisis, now is the time to take action. Download our list of seven actionable steps your company can take today to effectively deal with the ongoing supply chain disruptions.

about the author
sandra ebbers
sandra ebbers

sandra ebbers

vp global concept inhouse & large accounts

Sandra is responsible for the implementation of the inhouse concept worldwide. This business concept adds value to large organizations by optimizing their workforce and guiding flex workers in a cost-efficient way of working.

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