Factory shutdowns are among the events that disrupt organisations ©  Colin McPherson/Corbis via Getty Images
Factory shutdowns are among the events that disrupt organisations © Colin McPherson/Corbis via Getty Images

Supply chain disruption 'causes quality to drop by 9%'

24 August 2020

A single supply chain disruption can cause an average 9% drop in the “culture of quality”, according to Gartner.

A survey by Gartner revealed that disruptions in organisations can result in a fall in quality, with companies on average experiencing three disruptions annually.

Bryan Klein, research director with the Gartner Supply Chain Practice, said: “Covid-19, digital transformation, sudden facility shutdowns or an expansion into a new market – all of those incidents disrupt supply chain organisations. A strong culture of quality is critical during times of transformation.

“Quality leaders must find strategies to sustain their quality levels during disruptions.”

The survey gathered over 1,200 responses from employees who had recently experienced a disruption, and interviewed quality leaders to find how to maintain a culture of quality.

Gartner identified effective management of supply chain priorities as the “most impactful action” to ensure product quality during disruptions. However, only 27% of organisations are helping employees “navigate the inevitable tensions between conflicting priorities”.

Primary strategies to maintain product quality during disruptions, such as reinforcing the importance of quality and access to training and knowledge hubs, “have little to no impact”, said Gartner.

Over 70% of respondents said that multiple competing priorities increased during supply chain disruptions so “just reinforcing the importance of quality falls on deaf ears”. 

Quality tools also become less effective because after “priorities and circumstance change during the disruption, employees are unsure whether the tool is still relevant, and stop using it,” said Klein.

Gartner said organisations should adopt alternative steps to ensure quality during disruptions by better equipping employees to cope with conflicting supply chain priorities. They should provide clear guidance on what level of quality is required through categories such as “must have quality”, “should have quality”, and “can have quality”.

Klein said: “It helps when senior leaders acknowledge the tensions between priorities. There’s power in knowing that employees aren’t expected to optimise multiple priorities at the same time. 

“At times it’s okay to decide between priorities, such as decreasing speed-to-market in the face of a significant cost reduction.”

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