How data can help firms navigate coronavirus

Data can be used to help firms identify supply chain risks to support business continuity throughout the coronavirus pandemic. 

Chris Laws, head of strategy and product at Dun & Bradstreet, told delegates at the CIPS Managing Risk in Procurement and Supply Breakfast Briefing that data and analytics can be used to help firms to monitor and protect their positions. 

Supply chains are undergoing severe disruption due to the outbreak of the virus, but data can safeguard businesses and help them identify new revenue streams.

1. Build on clean data

Laws said: “It’s fundamental to start with a clean master data environment. Whether you’re starting from scratch building your master data strategy or there’s a project you need to undertake, you have to start with clean data so you know you are making decisions based on the right information that you need for the job.”

2. Establish a process

Laws said the second step firms should take is developing a risk-based assessment process for its supply chain.

“This should incorporate both your onboarding of suppliers as well as your ongoing monitoring of suppliers. Decide what your risk appetite is. Decide what your policy is going to be when things change. Look and decide how you’re going to continuously monitor what information you need to help protect your business. Make sure you know what is really important and what matters, and what isn’t.”

3. Monitor supply chain health

Establishing a complete view of your supply chain from first-tier suppliers to tier-N suppliers and consistently monitoring its health will help firms to identify potential risks, Laws said. 

“In the short term, organisations can use data to identify alternative suppliers in less impacted regions. Look to diversify your supply chain to reduce dependency on any one supplier within a particular geography. All of this is critical to protecting your business at a time when supply chains and national economies are even more connected than ever before,” he said. 

4. Identify different revenue streams

In the short term, firms are able to use data to identify alternative revenue streams as a way of operating, Laws added. 

“Businesses could consider providing new products or services for consumers or business clients. An existing product may fill a gap elsewhere or you may have the capacity to supply a different potential service,” Laws said.

“We’ve seen some great examples whether its the like of Burberry and Barbour making personal protective equipment [PPE] or McLaren and Dyson creating ventilators. Organisations can use data to see where there’s a need and follow it up. Their business supply chains can help achieve that outcome.”

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