Six ways to prepare for Brexit

7 March 2018

During this time of uncertainty procurement professionals should take the opportunity to elevate their role as a “trusted advisor”, according to Andrew Coulcher, group membership and knowledge director of CIPS.

Speaking at a CIPS/Fusion 21 event, Coulcher said a combination of Brexit uncertainty, changing business models due to technology and political tensions disrupting global trade had made the this one of the most complex times for organisations.

Here are his six tips on how procurement can help organisations prepare for Brexit:

1. Audit your supply chain from end to end

Dig deeper into your supply chain to find any hidden European suppliers. “One thing we believe we should be doing is not just auditing your supply chain, your tier ones, but where you’ve got strategic categories or strategic suppliers, perhaps taking a dip further into your supply chain, because although you might appear to be safe and sound with that direct relationship, you might actually find that some of that product or service is subcontracted out to a European-based organisation,” he said.

2. Reassure and communicate continuously 

With supply chains in the spotlight, organisations will be looking to the function to lead. “I think part of our role is not to bury our heads in the sand. This trusted advisor role is all about going out into your organisation, listening to concerns, reassuring business that the supply chain is as safe and sound as it can be, where we are but not allowing panic and frustration to get in the way of what needs to be business as usual for the next year or two,” he said.

3. Prioritisation and risk analysis

Coulcher said proactively identifying potential problem areas and prioritising them is key. “No one is going to be able to address all of the risk that may start to evolve around supply chains over the next year. Taking a proportionate, segmented, risk-based approach would be our advice.”

4. Contract review – current and planned

Be on top of all your contracts so that when Brexit arrives, your organisation is not hit with any surprises. “Review your contracts – what legal jurisdiction are those contracts in and what currency base are they in? Just make sure you understand that expiry date and when you might need to take some action,” he said.

5. Research and monitor

Broadly take into account legislation and trade issues that might affect the supply chain and come up with contingency plans to tackle them. “Monitor the news – try and stay on top of what’s going on and understand how that might affect or interfere with what you’re doing.”

6. Work cross-functionally

Coulcher said with most organisations and departments going through similar uncertainty, it would beneficial to all parties to share knowledge on how to minimise disruption.

“Don’t work in silo – every part of the business has similar concerns to our profession and our community so share the pain and share the knowledge – get other people involved in these conversations and our belief is you will get much better outcomes if you start to work trans-disciplinary with some of these big challenges,” he said.

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