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If there’s one thing 2020 has taught us, it’s how fragile the supply chain is. Everyone remembers the great toilet paper shortage from earlier in the year. Everyone had the experience of seeing empty shelves in the grocery store. 

The COVID-19 pandemic has claimed over 250,000 lives in America and created the biggest economic slowdown since The Great Depression. While we still have a long way to go before the world is back to “normal,” we are starting to see some examples of economic recovery. 

The preliminary results of a vaccine from Pfizer sent stocks soaring earlier this month, applications for state unemployment have improved, and the housing market is strong. So we are at least beginning to know there is a light at the end of the tunnel, even if we can’t see it yet. It’s important to note, though, that a large part of economic recovery depends on the supply chain and how it is managed. 

So how can supply chain managers navigate the challenges that they find themselves faced with? Here are a few strategies.

  1. Plan shipments as far in advance as possible. 

Supply chain managers need to work with suppliers and logistics partners to ensure they are planning for shipments as early as they can. This means as soon as the factory confirms an available date, the ocean freight capacity needs to be booked. This means informing domestic logistics partners of the departure date and when the freight will be available. This means giving your logistics partners as much lead time as possible to prepare. 

  1. Don’t put all of your eggs in one basket. 

Diversification has been one of the most important things supply chain managers have done in 2020. The pandemic has illuminated where the vulnerabilities are in the supply chain, and both small and large companies are diversifying their supply. It’s important not to rely on one supplier as much as possible. 

  1. Utilize technological advances in supply chain management. 

There are quite a few ways in which supply chain managers can utilize technology to improve their processes. They may want to consider the collaboration encouraged by hyperautomation, using a digital supply chain twin, or the ways in which artificial intelligence could assist with challenges around data silos as well as governance.

Being a supply chain manager has never been as challenging as it is currently. The number one way organizations can ensure better supply chain processes is by hiring the right people. At firstPRO, our supply chain, engineering, and logistics team of recruiters have a comprehensive understanding of what is needed for success in this field.