Buyers are playing a vital role in managing the impact of COVID-19 © Zhang Yao/China News Service/Getty Images
Buyers are playing a vital role in managing the impact of COVID-19 © Zhang Yao/China News Service/Getty Images

Coronavirus: the seven actions from procurement teams

Will Green is news editor of Supply Management
6 March 2020

Procurement teams are focusing on seven key actions to address the threat to business continuity posed by the coronavirus.

A survey of organisations in Casme, a global membership network for corporate procurement, showed purchasing teams are “playing a vital role in managing the impact of the Covid-19 virus”.

Casme said it had surveyed subscribers to “understand the actions currently being taken to minimise the impact of supply chain disruption”, and while “some arrangements are considered too sensitive to share by certain companies”, seven areas had been identified. More than 50 organisations responded to the survey.

The seven actions are:

1. Mapping suppliers and identifying those known to be located in high-risk geographies, in order to understand the extent of the potential problem.

2. Prioritising the sourcing of protective equipment for employees, such as masks.

3. Understanding which items being sourced are likely to be delayed or impacted, and planning for worst-case scenarios.

4. Accelerating the introduction of alternative suppliers.

5. Increasing safety stock levels.

6. Requesting that employees in high-risk areas work from home, where possible, and avoid public transport.

7. Cancelling team meetings/regional conferences and implementing a travel ban covering China, Hong Kong and Taiwan.

Graham Crawshaw, global services director at Casme, said: “Keeping the lines of communication open with suppliers is important, so that the organisation is informed of developments and challenges being faced by suppliers.

“During this crisis, companies are recognising the value of supplier relationship management programmes – especially when a supplier treats the organisation as a priority customer if stocks are limited. However, buyers also understand the need to accept price rises as part of the relationship while the supply/demand equilibrium changes.

“Procurement is also communicating internally, working with stakeholders to avoid scaremongering, and focusing on developing and successfully implementing action plans for risk mitigation.”

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