The Supply Chain Can’t Stop: A Guide to Setting Up a Virtual “War Room”

We’re shut in. There’s no toilet paper (although, I have hoarded 37 rolls for my family). My hair is getting way too long but I still need to be “camera ready” for my next video conference. It’s overwhelming at times — but we can’t stop. If you make produts and run a supply chain, goods need to get around the globe now more than ever.

We are facing the largest supply and demand shocks to the world’s economy in my lifetime. It’s not much of a stretch to predict that long term supply shock ripples caused by the COVID-19 crisis are likely to be felt for the next 12 months or more as production delays at impacted sites, material shortages and scarcity of logistics come to light. Add on the complexity that your organization and the partner network you work with are likely sequestered at home and things begin to look like the plot of a Mission Impossible movie.

So as a supply chain leader, how do you even begin to lead your organization and teams through these challenging and chaotic times?

Many of our colleagues in the supply chain have reverted to old habits. They have fallen back on spreadsheets, emails, and conference calls but that would only add undue delay to your team’s ability to resolve issues at a time when speed is critically important. Some have even increased adoption of Microsoft Teams, Slack or WhatsApp. But within hours, it becomes unruly — no way to track priorities, status, or actions in a systematic way. This inevitably leads to video conference calls with dozens of people trying to sort through numerous documents and messages.

What you need is a way for everyone to be able to track, manage, collaborate, and resolve supply chain incidents online, against a single source of truth that drives clear accountability. Every problem should have a clear owner, all associated documents, and all relevant parties on the same page. In other words, a virtual “war room” to help your organization actively manage through this crisis.

And how exactly does one go about setting up a virtual “war room” for supply chain you ask?

Step 1: Establish an Operating Cadence for Your Virtual “War Room”

Given how quickly circumstances are changing, on a daily — if not hourly — basis, it is important to establish a regular cadence of check-ins and proactive inquiries to stay on top of everything that has happened, could happen, or will happen to your supply chain. Continuous efforts should focus on keeping data from each step in the supply chain as up to date as much as possible.

Step 2: Get an Incident Management System for Supply Chain

Speaking of data, it has to be centrally available, real-time and online so everyone is working off the same facts. Elementum is a cloud platform that was designed to help global organizations easily collaborate to track, manage and resolve supply chain exceptions. And in this time of global crisis we are stepping up to do our part. #AllInThisTogether

Any and all supply chain organizations are invited to use Elementum Essentials at no cost for the rest of this year to run their virtual “war rooms” as they triage the countless supply chain disruptions caused by the COVID-19 pandemic. Our customer success team stands ready to set up a virtual “war room” for any organization that needs the extra help. It takes less than an hour to do so, does not impact your IT team, and we promise to respond to your request within 24 hours. You can get a quick preview of how easy it is to get started in this 3 minute video.

 

 

Step 3: Appoint a Commander (or Incident Manager) for Your “War Room”

Your “war room” might be virtual, but people are still people and your teams need direction. Your supply chain “war room” commander is accountable for the overall crisis response and manages activities to restore operations and minimize the impact to business. This person is also in charge of driving and facilitating the operating cadence of the virtual “war room”: making sure meetings happen regularly, that the correct parties are involved in the meetings, and that there is accountability across the entire supply chain when resolving specific incidents.

Finally, to all those unsung supply chain heroes out there, a heartfelt THANK YOU. We are here for you — ready to help.

Nader Mikhail

Founder and CEO | Elementum

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